10 Ways for ADD Authors to Be OOH! SQUIRREL!!!! …Productive

WANA, Kristen Lamb, We Are Not Alone, WANA International, how to be successful writer

Image via Marie Loughin WANA Commons

Right now I’m teaching a new series about going pro (check it out below this post—recordings and notes included with purchase). One key difference between the amateur and the professional is the professional shows up no matter what. Life will not stop because we have a dream of being a NYTBSA.

In August, I managed to nearly break my ankle (needed X-rays & brace) find out I was highly allergic to peanuts (nearly died…met new doctor & she seems nice), then have said evil peanut allergic reaction give me a spiffy case of FREAKING Shingles (two super fun-filled trips to the ER).

***THIS is what I get for bragging that I haven’t had to go to a doctor in YEARS. *lightning crackles*

Through all of this? No, I wasn’t operating optimally (or heavy equipment), but pain meds can give cool dreams so I kept pen and paper nearby.


Other writers frequently ask how I somehow manage to get a lot of stuff done, despite my having the attention span of a fruit fly…with a bad crack habit. Here are 10 ways to help you be productive even if OOH! SHINY!

…even if you tend to be a tad majorly ADD. The following tips are what help ME stay focused. I am NOT a doctor or psychologist or ADD expert. I’m a Jedi master, warp engine inspector, and WRITER so you get what you get.

1. Make lists.

I get distracted easily, so a list reminds me of what I need to get accomplished. I make separate lists—housework, fiction, non-fiction, business stuff, global domination using sea monkeys. Then, once I have the list, I do the hardest thing on my writing and business lists FIRST (housework can WAIT).

Like Covey says, Never mistake the urgent for the important.

2. Understand that feelings are pathological liars.

Writing is a profession, not a playpen. Professionals ignore their feelings and do it anyway. Only children, amateurs and  The Long Island Medium listen to their feelings. Feelings are fickle, lazy, and secretly jealous of your work and a tad pissed that you no longer hang out with them as much as you used to. The secret to success is to work your tail off. Be willing get up earlier and stay up later than others. Be willing to do what others won’t.

But I wanna write books. I don’t wanna do social media, toooooo. It’s haaaaard.

Yes. It is. There are many reasons this profession is not for everyone.

3. Use The Force…of Self-Discipline

Who cares HOW you get things done, so long as they get done?

I use the “Swiss Cheese” approach. I have my list and I take bite after bite after bite until the work is finished. Every book can be written in 250, 500, or 1,000 word bites. I CANNOT work linearly, so I don’t try and yes I was always in trouble in school but public schools were designed to train factory workers and corporate mind slaves, not people who get paid to play with imaginary friends.

4. Mix it up.

I am a writer, wife, entrepreneur, teacher, and mom who has yet to make enough money to afford servants (which sucks), and cats make lousy slaves. This means I get to do most of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and housework. Write your 200 words, fold a load of whites, empty the dishwasher, then write another 200 words.

5. Suck it up, Buttercup.

Understand that sometimes we will have to sit for a long time and focus. It’s hard. Whaaaaaaahhhhh, but anyone who thinks being a writer is a fluffy hamster dream has been hanging out with their feelings…and feelings lie, sabotage and will talk you into living on ice cream and cookie sprinkles.

6. Make mean writer friends.

Yes, the Swiss Cheese approach works well for people with ADD, and yes, there are times we need to duct tape our a$$es to the chair. This is why I befriend really mean people who kinda scare me. I recommend Piper Bayard, Jenny Hansen and Rachel Funk Heller. On the surface they are funny and sweet and would do anything for a friend…but that’s the issue. They will do anything for a friend, including ordering a hit on my X-Box 360.

7. Ditch loser friends.

We all have them or have had them. People who like to complain, make excuses, indulge in their feelings all the time. People who have a new dream every other week. I wanna be an astronaut, no a writer, no a vacuum salesman, no a journalist!

Ditch writers (and other people) who believe in luck, not work. Laziness, apathy, and whining are contagious. Treat excuses like EBOLA. A friend coughs blood excuses all over you, and, within two to three days, you start coughing up blood excuses, too…until your dream of being a writer liquifies and bleeds out and I hope you’re happy with yourself.


8. Forget perfection.

Perfection is an urban legend, started by Feelings (because Feelings are a needy boyfriend/girlfriend who don’t understand the world does not revolve around them.) The world doesn’t reward perfection; it rewards finishers. Often we lose focus on what we are REALLY doing, because we are getting sidetracked with nitpicking.

9. Exercise.

Often ADD can be fueled by being too sedentary. Human bodies were not designed to sit on their @$$e$ all day. Ever have a puppy that chews everything and is into everything and short of strapping itself to a rocket is just being a GIANT PAIN IN THE @$$?

How do you get it to behave? Put on roller blades and run puppy until puppy wants to slip into something more comfortable…like a coma. ADD people are human puppies, so stop piddling on the carpet…I mean, go get a little exercise and your focus will generally improve.

Though I will not return to Jui-Jitsu until next week and have stopped hot yoga because of the Shingles, I still go to the gym and move at least a little. It CAN be done *eyes classes for senior citizens*.

10. Drink lots of water.

Human bodies are a hydroelectric system, and water enhances conductivity. Cool writer ideas/thoughts work this way. Muse Pixies of Awesomeness are conducted through your brain to your fingers and they bring the cool story stuff. MPAs like to travel via fairy, or ferry on WATER. They can’t travel if the waterways are too dry and moor them on a cookie sprinkle…and then you can’t focus.

It’s science. Don’t argue.

I hope these tips help, because today is my first day of our new “unschooling” coop, Kender University. I am off to teach small children the history of weapons and how to crochet…not necessarily in that order. Did you know you can make a battle ax out of tin foil and left over toilet paper cores?


What about you guys? Those of you ADD folk out there who’ve paid attention to this point, first of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!!

…now back in your hole.

It writes the words or it gets the hose O_o.

What are your thoughts? Struggles? Tips? Words of wisdom. It’s okay. You have permission to get back in your hole after you comment :D.

It rubs the elbow grease on. IT RUBS THE ELBOW GREASE ON! *pets fluffy white dog*

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of SEPTEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).


Back to School!

Upcoming Classes: NEW!!! Going Pro Series

 Going Pro Craft is CLOSED, but with the bundle you will get the recoding and notes in On-Demand format, then Going Pro SocialMedia/Branding September 6th THIS SATURDAY, Going Pro Business September 10th, Going Pro All the Way! (ALL THREE). Use WANA15 for $15 off individual classes.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. ADD is a sign of genius. Great stuff!

    1. I am trying to loosen up and not write so tight (like a perfectionist). Reading this material helps.

    • Rachel Thompson on September 4, 2014 at 8:19 am
    • Reply

    I would add– something you just did by creating a do or don’t do list– work smarter, not harder.

    1. Another thing I am learning is greater discernment where I commit my time and energy. Great point.

  2. Great article, lots of fun! I particularly like the ‘forget perfection’ part as well as the ‘self-discipline’ one. There is a Greek saying that goes a bit like ‘the enemy of good, is better’. I try to live by that and to settle for good or good enough, otherwise I will never get anything finished.

  3. Great post, Kristen! I just found out I have ADD after my son was diagnosed. Two major things work best for me:

    1) I have checklists for various processes, especially writing. It keeps me on track and my mind from wandering if I have to try to remember how something is done.

    2) I listen to music when I write/edit. It keeps my thoughts busy so I can concentrate.

  4. So you are saying my diet of ice cream and cookie sprinkles isn’t what keeps the doctor away? I now have to question my whole existence. Great advice though.

  5. Great advice here! I was recently diagnosed with Adult ADD, which helped explain a LOT. These are all marvelous tips, especially the Swiss Cheese. It’s the only way I’m able to get any writing done. Now I’m off to scrounge around for ice cream and cookie sprinkles because I got a craving for some reason;-)

    • prudencemacleod on September 4, 2014 at 8:40 am
    • Reply

    *Eyes classes for senior citizens*… Hey, get away from me, crazy woman…

    1. Battle Ax Pilates. Exercise for the Sage Viking Woman. You know we need to start this. “Grab your ax and lift. Swing cleanly and gently across…”

      1. Battle Ax Pilates… Who said exercise needs to be boring?

      2. *snort*

    • Ron Estrada on September 4, 2014 at 8:47 am
    • Reply

    This is why so totally rock. I overcome distractions by assigning myself impossible goals. Like writing a book every two months. Just do it, Estrada. We’ll figure out if they’re any good or not later. I’m in the corporate grind by day. But I don’t say I’m stuck anymore. Now I say I’m switching careers. No matter how long it takes or how many bad TV shows I have to miss, I’ll get it done. Thanks for being such a blessing, Kristen. Even if you never get on Oprah or even Duck Dynasty, you’ve touched a lot of lives. Okay, enough of that sentimental crap. Back to work.

  6. Some great stuff here. Though I would not start making lists. I’ll spend more time making lists than doing the stuff on the lists!
    But point number 8 among all the great other pointy stuff is nice for me to hear. I know I will never be perfect as an author, but I do fear that it kind of builds into my already lazy persona by saying: Editing is not necessary. Forget being perfect…

  7. I don’t have ADD. If anything, I’m super organized, tho not to the point of being OCD. I make lists to keep my stress level down. I work through small tasks that eventually make up larger tasks. I write or edit every day. The tips here help those of us without ADD. The Swiss cheese analogy is perfect. Now, back to my writing hole. I have a deadline. But first, I need more coffee.

  8. Reblogged this on Timothy L. Cerepaka's Blog and commented:
    Kristen Lamb offers some good advice for writers who are looking to increase their productivity. Go and read the post yourself.

    • J. Gonzales on September 4, 2014 at 9:09 am
    • Reply

    What I’ve found works best for me with my ADD: work when my medication is strongest. I realize not everyone takes medication for ADD, but it’s been my lifesaver in many ways. I know that I will be at my best focus-wise during that time, so I make sure my writing gets done then and all the other stuff (including housework etc) is done later on. Does this mean housework may be a disorganized mess of stuff? Well, my house would say yes. But it also means my writing actually gets done instead of forgotten about.

    For those who don’t take medication for it, I would find out what time of day you are most able to concentrate and if you can, make that your writing time.

  9. Write every day. Period. No excuses. Once you allow one day to slide, it’s really easy to let another day go by. Before you know it, you’re taking a couple of weeks off to re-energize. I allow such breaks only in between projects. Sometimes I only get a couple of sentences, but I keep going.

    Also, the running punch list helps keep those random thoughts from getting away. My characters will sometimes say something in Chapter 8 that contradicts what they said in Chapter 2. I’ll add that to the punch list (separate document) to go back and fix at a later time, one way or another. That way I don’t lose the momentum of the moment.

    1. Hi +Nolan White ; I find that watching bad movies makes me feel better about anything I write. One of my favorite internet shows is Nostalgia Critic. Warning; he swears like a long shoreman when he’s angry about a movie, but it’s comedic to listen to the sarcasm.

      After watching him review movies like the Animated Titanic movie, The Room and Garbage Pail Kids, you will go away feeling a LOT better about what you write.

      I’ve been told a number of times; Write for yourself. Tell yourself a story you would want to hear.

      + Joseph E. Bird EXACTLY… “A Writer Writes. Always.” ~Billy Crystal~ Throw Mama From the Train

  10. The “perfectionist trap” has kept all too many writers from actually finishing anything. The number one problem with my old critique group is that it acted as an enabler for endless rewriting. It was a perfect place to hone your craft, but once your sword is sharp, you have to move on to the bigger, more important battle of getting your work out there.

  11. Thanks for the reminders! I’ve been sick this week, and while I haven’t written, the fluffy hamster from my dreams would do better, I was able to do some research, and run pages through an editing program, no independent thought needed. Every day I did something to move forward.

  12. “Feelings are fickle, lazy, and secretly jealous of your work.” Amen – especially since the work’s made up of more feelings, and the noisy ones are their spoiled sibs. Grumble, grumble, why should a couple of feelings bother to get in line and try building themselves into a complete picture of a dragon – chasing squirrels isn’t good enough for them? –Same as finding the right friends, we just need to choose and hold on.

    • Nan Sampson on September 4, 2014 at 9:56 am
    • Reply

    World domination by sea monkeys, huh? And here I’ve been using hamsters… Pinky, time for a new plan! But seriously, this is an awesome piece! Just the kick in the pants I needed. It’s so easy to come home from a day at the paying job and say, man, I just want to kick back and play some Minecraft for a few hours. Thanks for this!

    • Kessie on September 4, 2014 at 10:07 am
    • Reply

    Alzheimer’s runs in my family, and my mom has spent years observing what seems to bring it on. Universally, my great-relatives’ brains began rotting when they stopped exercising. (They took to their armchairs at age 60 and never stirred from them again.) So exercise! And don’t stop!

    Us old ladies have to take care of ourselves much more carefully now that our bodies don’t heal as well.

  13. I read your blog all the time and always learn something from it. Well, this post was perfect timing.

    Life has been busy and I’ve been very ADD…Well, even more than usual. I was feeling disheartened yesterday…You said it best, I was feeling. Today I whipped those pesky feelings away and onward with my novel.

    Thank you for whipping my booty into shape! Xoxo

  14. Reblogged this on Blissful Pages and commented:
    Awesome! I am inspired by your post. Thank you so much! I might as well do: write 200 words, spin a load of laundry, wash the dishes, cook food, write 200 words again, and go round about everything repeatedly until all is done. 🙂

  15. “Slip into something more comfortable… Like a Coma!” Ha– copyright that and get on tee-shirt ASAP. My problem is that even when I get highly focused and can bypass all of life’s distracting tangents (like doing a load of whites with one red in my house!) I still have this nagging, editing voice that constantly sidetracks me with fixing and polishing, before I even get the full thought out and down. I call it “Correctile Dysfunction!” Thanks for a great article yet again!

    1. I LOVE your pen name! I’m sooo there. Ending the journey, actually. thank God! And I would LOVE to slip into that nice comfortable Coma! Especially on a MONDAY!

      As for that nagging voice that tells you to correct a story you haven’t finished. IGNORE IT. I have that same voice and I used to listen. Then I would lose what I was I want to get done and I’d get so cranky and crazy I’d just give up.

      One writer told a group of us Newbies….”SPILL YOUR GUTS, THEN clean it up!” Only YOU can END Correctile Dysfunction! Shame there isn’t a pill for that! 😀

      1. (Correction: Then I would lose what it was I wanted to get done and I’d get so cranky and crazy I’d just give up.

        This site needs an EDIT button.

        1. Marcy Kennedy, in her guest post on 9/11/14, used the word hanger for hangar. The latter, a place used for housing aircraft, is different from the former, which is used for hanging clothes. Kristen, your creativity is amazing. And you’re right about waiting to clean up a chapter. The thought is the thing, not the afterthought of second guessing myself. I’m writing a sequel with characters whose utopian ideals are realized through genetic matching when the thought occurred to me: If Ford can recall defective autos, why can’t God do the same with humans? Yes, they die eventually but not before reproducing more flawed copies “after their own kind.” Thank you, Paneras, for the coffee that inspired that aloof spoof (or is it satire?).

          1. I have a similar idea, as far as the Utopia, but mine is based on WISHFUL THINKING on my part. I love the concept though. I just wish it was possible in the real world.

          2. Authors play the “What If” game and let those fantastical thoughts develop as if they were reality. It’s about breaking barriers and daring to imagine a new reality. Give your protagonist the power to change the world with an idea that catches on and spreads like wildfire. Take ecology, for example. The Clean Water Act is not being enforced because power brokers in Washington, in fear of giant agribusiness, have weakened federal EPA regulators by refusing to fund that agency. Meanwhile, poisonous algae is choking lakes and depriving fish of oxygen coast to coast in America (including 829 manatees dying in Florida last year). From those facts, have your main character develop a patented aerator that (if used by industry & municipalities) will stop pollution at its source–small streams that feed into rivers and lakes. Plus, this device cuts operational costs dramatically. Your hero has no competition. So where’s the conflict that your story needs? The answer is simple. Engineers make a commission of 15% on equipment they install. Why should they approve of a hero’s innovative product at one-fourth the cost when the inefficient, antiquated system now in place means more money in their pocket due to kickbacks? Your hero must now shift into PR mode and find a way to bypass the engineers. What are his options? Will a large corporation buy him out and hide his invention? Will he be a target on their hit list if he refuses a buyout? Do the research like I did and create an award-winning novel (to be published soon).

          3. Thanks. YUP! I’m gonna go very WHAT IF and create a world that is SORTA 1984-ish, but with a benign ruler and a simple choice; Eden or ‘outside’. Choose wisely.

          4. Why was my reply not formatted correctly?

          5. Yes, I asked her to do a quick post for me and should have put another set of eyes on it. It’s been corrected and actually we just, um, put that in there to, uh…see if you guys were paying attention! YES! Bonus XP points 😀

  16. You crack me up! But I love the advice. I feel like our family constantly falls into these types of situations. I’m recently married and now I have these same responsibilities (including an 8 month old puppy) so your posts always hit smack dab in the middle. So grateful to hear honest advice from another writer!

  17. Totally amazing tips. I especially like “make mean writer friends,” “ditch loser friends,” and “mix it up.” Though I totally agree with lists too. I make lists all the time for pretty much everything. XD

    My editing partner is one of those mean writer friends. She’s not afraid to tell me that my novel totally sucks and I should start over. o_0 My book is better because of it. And those “loser friends” are real downers. We have a guy in our writing group that recently self published a novel without an editor and he’s constantly whining about his bad sales and bad reviews.

    I’ve never really thought about mixing up my whole day. I’m gonna try that today, especially since my house needs cleaning. o_0

    I’d add one more thing to your mix it up idea. Mix up your writing too. Spend hours outlining a special novel one day, but then pants another story with abandon another day. Work on your favorite fantasy series, but explore that dystopian story you’ve always wanted to read too. Do a short story about your best friend, but then do a short story about your best ALIEN friend. I find that mixing things up keeps my creative juices flowing.

    1. Btw, I’m totally sharing this with my very ADD writing group. XD

  18. I am definitely ADD inclined and love working like you said from one thing to another. I need to add in exercise though.

  19. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and it has been so helpful. Don’t stop posting. 🙂
    I love the idea to mix things up! I would say more, but I’m trying to make today productive. *wink wink*

  20. Great advice. I’m making my actual physical to-do list right now. So far, I’ve been relying on mental lists, which is the same as … nothing. Putting tasks on a piece of paper, right next to my computer, will keep me focused and it’s so satisfying to mark things off.

    • Donna Koppelman on September 4, 2014 at 11:41 am
    • Reply

    LOVE this post. I am an ADHD writer, and your schedule sounds like mine. 300 words, run an errand, 300 words, rotate laundry, 300 words, prep for dinner, 300 words, walk the dogs, and so on. AND I have a very mean writer friend who keeps me on track.

  21. The best advice. I never realized I had writing ADD until I read this post. I am guilty of almost all of these! Now I have a way to overcome and write, write, write!
    Now my list is distracting me… What’s number 3? ohhh, pretty pictures on Pinterest.
    Wait, must go back to list…

    Thanks, Kristen. It’s always a pleasure to know that we aren’t alone.

  22. Reblogged this on Lenora's Culture Center and Foray into History.

  23. Loved reading this! While I am just a blogger (although I have penned a children’s book) I think your approach can be applied to almost any area of life. Balancing working almost 40 hours in retail per week, home-schooling a first grader, cooking for an elderly lady 3-4 hours per week, church on Sunday and Wednesday, selling Usborne books to libraries (and hosting home parties), making cakes as needed (2-3 per week for extra money), blogging, training to run a half-marathon in December and caring for my 30 plus chickens while attempting to keep house and cook for my family is…..difficult. I am not, by nature, ADD but sometimes I feel as if I am because I simply become overwhelmed. Lists are my best, best friends…….

  24. Hi Kristen, yes I’m a ADD person, and writer, and loved reading your blog. Your’s is always one of the most refreshing out there!

    As for strapping your ass to the chair – you’re absolutely right, there’s nothing else to getting it done but sitting in the writers chair and pounding out the words.

    I retired from a successful career in sales and marketing, and we had this saying, “nothing happens until a phone call or sales call is made.” It took sitting in a chair on a phone or in front of a prospect to build my marketing business and this writing business – it’s exactly the same – only it’s in front of a key board.

    And by the way, love your comment about “working at getting paid to play with imaginary friends!” I’m so stealing that for my next blog, but absolutely will attribute it to you.

    Your the best Kristen, and when I’m eating my next PBJ, I’ll think of how lucky I am to have to allergies!

    My Best to you,

    Lyle Nicholson

  25. I am a huge believer in 3, 9 and 10 (although all of it is true). Exercise, sleep (6 hours for every 24) and eating properly play an important part in keeping us healthy. Healthy people have fewer reasons to make excuses.
    Also, I am giving myself a break. We have been working nonstop to get our house ready to sell and I haven’t been writing my 2-3,000 words on Monday – Friday. Sometimes when life happens you have to create a more realistic schedule. Even if it means I won’t finish the novel I’m working on by the date I placed in my calendar (and that bugs me).
    I am writing – some every day – but not at my usual crank-it-out pace. Write. Every. Day. That is my mantra.

  26. You nailed it on this one! I currently have no less than four books in various stages of progress…is it bad that the one I do have published is about ADHD? Lots of great tips in this article– thanks!

  27. Guuh, lady! You don´t even know me, yet you´ve stated every lil dirty excuse I can come up with… *bashful eyes* Though, I´m on a good way, apparently. I´ve started to do my 200 (or 300 actually!!) words per day. Now I have the problem that I can´t afford to do the laundry in the time between *grins* Well, I´m an abslute beginner. And I laughed hard at your tips, cause they´re just so… TRUE!
    Thanks for such entertaining advices…. 😉

    • Raitt Black on September 4, 2014 at 3:16 pm
    • Reply

    Nice article. Funny, informative, and motivating. One thing that works for me is to set specific times every day for writing and do it. I can write outside of those times if daily life allows, but those writing times are always for writing.

  28. I call it grasshopper brain. I’m so blessed with a fabulous writer buddy, we keep each other on track.

    An excellent list even the non-distractible can learn from!

    I hope you’re 100% better and back to normal functioning soon!

  29. All your blogs are awesome, but I think this may be one of the awesomest. That’s a word right? It should be. thank you so much for this post.

    1. IS in MY book! 😀 Just don’t tell the troll who razed me on Huffington for using the word “awesome” *snerk*

      1. I’ll nevah tell! I also forwarded this to several of my author friends.

        Keep posting!

  30. I don’t have a problem with ADD…mine’s ADHD….so on top of the OOOH SQUIRREL I’ve got my body moving constantly. Whether I’m jiggling my foot, bouncing my knee up & down, or simply chewing my fingers (Yup….I found that I do this….I now have a callous on my first finger from my own teeth….I don’t even realize I’m doing it.) The housework theory you had (Swiss Cheese) is how I based my #wordmongering on. I couldn’t limit myself to word counts….so I did it via time limits. 30 minutes to write….30 minutes to work on housework. I set timers & away I go. So far it’s been a pretty awesome system (when I USE it that is!)

    Another thing that might help those with attention deficits are routines. Sometimes a routine can make it so that you’re more productive. I know that sounds COUNTER productive, but I find that if I have a set routine for how I handle certain things I have that peace of mind that once I start doing them I go on autopilot. This leaves my brain free to be as wispy as it wants to! 😀 (Just make sure you carry a little notebook around for those wispy times! 😀 )

  31. I admire the way you can rephrase messages you might have given before, with a new spin or a different illustration. So many of us (me included) don’t “get” a certain message the first time around. Or maybe we weren’t ready to hear something the first time around. The ‘list’ one is a habit I once used that fell into disuse and is going to have to be dusted off again. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  32. All wonderful tips!! I’m always laughing when I read your posts, then my family wants to know what’s so funny, so I end up reading your blog twice. My daughter drives hubs up the wall with her ADD, but then I tell him to be quiet b/c she inherited it from me and I turned out okay. That never seems to comfort him 😉

    • Vickie on September 4, 2014 at 10:20 pm
    • Reply

    Great advice! Thanks!

  33. Great post!! My ADD is caused my the two little children in my house. But yeah, if they give me a second, I’ll spend it writing, even if it’s in the bathroom.

    1. Lord, then they stand trying to chew through the door! I can’t go pee without three cats, a dog and a 4 year old as an audience. I feel for you.

      1. Wow! And I thought my toilet was crowded with the three of us (and my laptop) in there!

  34. Reblogged this on ramblings of an autistic wordsmith and commented:
    Some good, solid help for the writer with a focus problem.

    “Perfection is an urban legend, started by Feelings.” This made me laugh and is also true.

  35. Hi Kristen,

    I’m an editor, but I LOVE your posts–and forward many of them on to writers. You are amazing, hilarious, tough, wise, snarky, and totally the most awesomest blogger ever!! 😉

    I just want to know … what do I do with a writer who takes twenty-four chapters FULL of edits (I do both copy editing and substantive at the same time, plus I write WHY changes need to be made–you know, teach a man to fish…)–and he has it back to me in a day!! He is in his 70’s, very involved in the community, church, writing books & plays & musicals & acting in them–but somehow he speeds through my edits with warp speed. This has been going on for a month now. When I tell him I have other books I’m editing or I won’t be able to get to his latest edits (much less the rest of his chapters) for another week or so, he’ll email me every day or two to see how I’m doing in my personal life–he knows a bit about it.

    Yikes!! I don’t know what you’d call a writer like him, but I have no idea how to slow him down! I mean, the very first edits I gave him were that he’d have to rewrite his entire book because of seven different main issues. AND HE DID! Like in a week!

    What’s the solution to balance out the antithesis to the ADD/ADHD writer??

    Your biggest fan,


    1. Hon, I am learning to put down boundaries. If his edits are clean and not just half-@$$ rushing that gives you more work, just tell him you have other clients and that you will get to it starting X day and not before and if he nags/contacts you, it moves out your timeline because you are taking your valuable time to read superfluous e-mails. If he’s being sloppy and just turning in anything? Charge more for new revisions. Value your time. And remember, if people want instant, they can go to McDonald’s.

      Some clients and even employees are not worth the extra tax they put on us. I have only had to fire a couple people from WANA International and one was for a very similar reason. She could NOT understand, “I DO NOT WORK SUNDAYS.” She was also on CA Time and I am in Texas. She’d be calling me or messaging me at 9 or 10 PM my time needing something INSTANTLY. I was nice, until it was time to not be nice.

      The problem is that it only takes ONE energy vampire who fails to respect boundaries to have a negative impact on all your other work. Ne nice. Explain. Then set a boundary. “Please do not do X. If you do X, first I double my fee. Next? I drop you as a client because you are being unprofessional.”

      And yes, it will be hard to do, but it is better to be respected than popular ;).

      THANK YOU for the compliment and I am thrilled I can be such a help to you and your clients!

      1. Thank you for letting me know I must put my foot down and give this man super strict boundaries. His work IS good, he follows all of my instructions, he’s referred other good writers to me, and he’s a friend of my #1 mentor … all reasons for my hesitation to offend him–and lose him or have him say something negative about me.

        But since YOU’VE enforced boundaries, I will, too. You’re absolutely right: “it is better to be respected than popular.” I can be strict and kind–the missing ingredient was not to fear what would happen. Regardless of what happens, being respected is much more important than being drained because of trying to please this one person (I have no problems setting boundaries with other writers).

        Thank you so much for taking the time to answer me–I needed the advice from someone *I* respect very much!

        Blessings to you,

  36. My biggest distraction at the moment is blogging. It’s a wonderful excuse not to get on with some real work, and yet I wouldn’t have read this post if temptation hadn’t got the better of me. I drink lots of water while blogging.

  37. Thank you Kristen! I’m new at blogging and this is great advice.

  38. Great comment – the world rewards finishers!

  39. I don’t use lists as often as a lot of people do; probably because I don’t have that many things going on at one time. I do seem to work better on Mondays, my laundry day. I work more in spurts on that day and feel that I get more done.

  40. Not ADD, even though the “specialist” tried to tell my mother I was. Highly dyslexic and I do get easily distracted with the “effort”. THIS. Is brilliance. Thank you.
    And I am totally feeling for you, my sister has just been diagnosed with shingles, on top of chronic fatigue. Gah. Slipping discs and trying to write is no picnic either :/

    • iamallwayswrite on September 5, 2014 at 11:50 am
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on All Ways Write! and commented:
    I love it when smart people say the very thing I want to say…. Kristen Lamb does that in this blog post about – um- wait a minute… Ok. Sorry. Something popped up on my Twitter feed… 🙂

  41. Reblogged this on Mandy White and commented:
    Some good advice on mixing writing life with real life.

  42. Fluffy hamster dreams…I love that.

  43. I like working with imaginary friends. There’re always there for me, even while I exercise, drink plenty of water and take a bite of cheese. Heck, they even wait for me when I’m in my ADD mode and going from one thing to another. I’ll stick with the imaginary friends; everyone else can wait until I’m finished writing. Thanks for reminding me of how it’s done!

  44. I like working with my imaginary friends. They understand my ADD mode and wait patiently until I return to them, even if I’m still taking small bites of cheese. Thanks for reminding me of how it goes.

  45. Great post had me laughing … ooh, hamster. 😉 Good advice too.

  46. Loved this post. Thanks!! My helpful hint–save the laundry for when you hit a rough patch in the writing. That’s when I’m most tempted to waste time on FB, etc. Now I fold the laundry/load the dishwasher/etc. It clears my head and I get back to writing without wasting time.

  47. I had serious “UP” flashbacks there…

    I never considered myself ADD but now that you point it out, I find that I am… isn’t that always the way? As yet, I haven’t tried the exercising / water thing (I tend to drink tea or lemonade) but I’ve added it to the repertoire because… to be brutally honest… my arse is looking a little too flabby and I could really do with moving around more.

    I’m off to nibble at the cheese some more… any ideas how to chose which WIP I nibble at?

  48. Reblogged this on writingtutortips and commented:
    While I’m pretty sure I don’t have ADD, I do tend to be easily distracted (thanks Internet!). I’m going to try to integrate the advice in this post into my writing life, and I wanted to share it 🙂

  49. Great great great words. I need this push!

  50. Interesting points! Especially the part about drinking water. I always seem to forget that.

    However, I do believe the professional writer should enjoy the process, not just the product. I believe that if you don’t enjoy the process, your heart isn’t in the right place, and your success will be minimal. Enjoying the process also motivates you to get off your ass (or get ON your ass, as a writer, ironically!) and DO SOMETHING.

  51. Such an OOOOOH! SQUIRREL! person here. Sometimes it is so hard to focus. I appreciate any and all tips. I do make lists – I like making lists, just trying to remember everything I need to do can be fun – but the trouble I then have is losing the lists, lol.

  52. Reblogged this on Edits by Jade and commented:
    Any other ADD personalities out there? Here are some tips to help the ADD writers among us focus.

  53. Thanks for this great post. I wanted to get my next post going and felt stuck, you’ve not only given concrete advice but also provided an awesome example of how to blend advice/how-to with personality and humor. And I agree about perfectionism getting us stuck. That’s been my story but I’m learning to focus on doing and not on perfection.

  54. I love this! Even though I spotted the D-word in there (d-d-d-discipline!), I’m definitely going to try all these out–oh look, butterflies!

  55. Reblogged this on Sunflowers for Moira and commented:
    This is such great advice, ADD or not.

  56. I love that title for this blog!

    • Greg on September 7, 2014 at 5:11 am
    • Reply

    Making a list and prioritizing to keep focus are excellent suggestions. The prioritization part may be the hardest. I need to make my work a priority over everyone else’s desires or urgent situations wrought of their lack of planning. (at least that’s what my wife keeps telling me.) Hmmm, she is a pretty wise woman and in good company with you Kristen. Maybe this is the week I will begin the re-write of my novel.

  57. Thanks for these tips. I sometimes get so fed up with myself because I can’t just keep concentrating on the book. I am using the social media now to break up the writing. I just have to be careful not to get sucked into a black hole of links and lose two hours of time while going off on a tangent.

    1. You’re preaching to the choir and I’m the lead vocalist. *Embarrassed sigh* I have gone off on more social media tangents than I care to remember. The result of which is a LOT LESS work than I wanted to accomplish on any given weekend.

      I’ve actually turned off my satellite connection to my internet. Once I get going on a story, I’m good. It’s the getting going part that’s tough. 😀

  58. You are cordially invited to become my new best friend. Thank you for making me smarter.

  59. Out of curiosity, do you make use of any tools/apps to help keep yourself organized and focused? Evernote? Cozi? Trello?

    1. I use Trello when I remember to :/

    • marie on September 7, 2014 at 9:46 am
    • Reply

    I am not a writer, but I love this advice and plan to pass it on to my granddaughter who has a tendency to whine about things she needs to do. I don’t want to get up, go to work, make nice with doctors,(I am a nurse) but I do because it is who I am and what I do. What do you as authors think about the other authors who bash the people who review their books? I see it more and more and will not read books by authors who do this. Negative criticism happens to everyone and nobody likes it, but you take it and learn from it or ignore it because some criticism is not constructive.

  60. I never considered myself ADD, but I do fall into many of these traps. I make lists and try to stick to them. I get wrapped up in my feelings sometimes. Sometimes I get distracted with daydreams, which I could really be using more productively by writing them down instead of just daydreaming. I know exercise helps, but sometimes I get lazy about that too. One thing I think I am pretty good at is with staying away from negative and lazy people. My positive hard-working friends are an inspriation all by themselves.

    Thanks for the info. I’m getting off my butt now and am going to take the dogs for a nice long jaunt. 🙂

  61. I save your posts for when I need a kick in my butt and wind beneath my sails. Today was one of those. Thanks again, Kristen!

  62. Thank you, I no longer feel alone!!! I am definitly overthinking one of the pieces I am working on and it has stopped my progress as a whole. I just found you and I will be back…now… must.fisnish.piece…

  63. Thanks for all the great advice and encouragement. Do love your bits of writerly wisdom and inspiration. I agree about the benefits of getting up from the office chair every hour or so, if only for a few minutes. My cats wonder about those trips from one end of the house to the other, but do love it when the trip involves food for them.

  64. Love the article; had to skim it, because I am making dinner, editing, and trying to settle world war three with my daughters. Apparently playing minecraft together has pushed them both over the edge.

  65. I kept forgetting to ask, but now that I’m not so encumbered by social media, I can think clearly TO ask; How did you plant your quote into that pic?

    1. PIC MONKEY. It’s free and it RULES.

      1. Cool! Thanks! Will have to check that out. Right now, I use Photoscape and photomania. Will have to add Pic Monkey to the list.

  66. I’ve got the opposite problem: small chunks of writing time doesn’t work for me. It takes at least an hour to gather the threads, dig in, and get up to speed. And ‘mixing it up’ invariably results in moving on to something new and shiny, never to return!
    Sleep is my favourite creative tool, but I could certainly use more exercise. And I’m hoping the Powers That Be will reclassify tea as ‘water’ 🙂

    • L on September 12, 2014 at 6:30 am
    • Reply

    I haven’t read every single post yet, so you might’ve already mentioned them, but site and internet blockers like Focal Filter and Freedom can be extensively helpful if it’s a specific site (like say, facebook or pintrest or tumblr) which is eating up all your time.

  67. I once wrote a blog about time management. I hate that phrase. What it really means is you must magically make more hours in a day, or give up sleep altogether. However, your suggestions are excellent. When the writing is going well, there is nothing I’d rather do, including sleep.

    1. Just finished chapter 38 of my second novel with an exciting cliffhanger. Three more chapters to go before it’s completed. Time to start sending out query letters but don’t know which genre my novel fits into. What’s the latest on Speculative Fiction (SpecFi)?

  68. A lot of these tips work beautifully if you’re a writer who also have chronic pain. I’ve always admired writers who keep at it for hours at a time, don’t leave their desk until they have their daily 3000 words. Yeah, sure. If you have chronic pain, that’s a recipe for disaster. Swiss cheese is the way to go. Oh, and thanks for the kick in the arse about social media. I’ll stop whining about it now. 😉

    1. A friend gave me a novel titled Never Cry Wolf. On page 7 Sarah, the heroine, is hungry. But after being rescued from a murderous gang by Simone, a werewolf, she goes to sleep that night at his house on an empty stomach. I’m angry that Simone doesn’t offer her anything to eat. Events unfold the next day (page 22) but still no mention of her hunger being satisfied. Never mind the mediocre storyline. I want to kick Simone’s sorry a** for ignoring her basic need for food. I stopped reading at that point. Thought about contacting Kensington Publishing Corp (Bravo Books) and suggesting that they refuse to publish unedited manuscripts.

  69. Madame, you are an inspiration. I resemble you in the ADD sense, and have had to learn how to be a linear-thinking teacher the hard way. (Longer story than I have time for.) My first novel is live on Amazon right now and I am slowly churning away on #2.
    My curse is that my imagery has come into focus as I listened to the eclectic mix CD’s that I keep in my truck. As a result, I can see seeds of all the stories in my projected Arc as clearly as I see the keyboard here…. have sketched most of them out too. I have set up the plan to follow so that I can unfold book #2, and I am terrified. It is September, and every teacher on the continent is “somewhat busy” right now. Finding the time to craft the words in my sparse spare time is challenging.

    But, like in my stories, you inspire hope in me. I will stay latched onto this goal, and maybe I can brag about book 2 going live too.

    Best of luck, and again…thanks!

  70. I don’t have 20 pages of a book as I only write real estate ads, brochures and such but really got a kick out of your Blog. I’m left wondering if I should write 20 pages just incase I can win the unvarnished truth!

    • robin witt on September 25, 2014 at 10:53 am
    • Reply

    Great tips! thanks!

  71. Kristen,

    Thanks for sharing another great post. I am a self-diagnosed ADHDer with a bit of OCD thrown in for good measure. Although both can be a pain, I find the ability to hyper-focus (thank you ADHD) and to do, and re-do, a task until I’ve just about beaten it to death (shout-out to OCD), has driven me to publish my first book while dipping a toe in Twitter and WordPress. The latter two have proven much more of a challenge than writing and publishing a book. Being born before 1970 renders me partially hapless in the face of social media. I liken it to an ape teaching herself how to tie her own shoes: it’s not pretty to watch, nor necessary, but it can be done.

    Thank you,

  72. Reblogged this on Slippers, or Stilettos?.

    • Kat Marshall on January 30, 2018 at 10:24 pm
    • Reply

    Useful article. Grateful for the information, but did not at all care for your reference to “servants.” You could of put that in a much more sensitive way. And following it up with a mention of cats as slaves further compounded the negative connotation. While you may have been trying to be funny, it was in very poor taste.

    1. I find your need to take time to demean and chastise a free blog that was penned with a lot of effort to make you laugh and lighten up on yourself in very poor taste. It’s called hyperbole and sarcasm. Feel free to go look those terms up since they’re standard elements used in comedy. But I wish you all the best in finding sensitive, politically correct comedic free blogs. Bet they are REALLY funny.

      1. And you gave me NO points for this blog being non-GMO and gluten-free….so there 😛 .

  1. […] I don’t always write posts about another blogger’s post, but when I do, it’s probably about Kristen Lamb. Today, she hit a 9 run homer. She nailed it so far out of the park that the opposing team’s infield felt the need to round the bases as well. You can read it here. […]

  2. […] « 10 Ways for ADD Authors to Be OOH! SQUIRREL!!!! …Productive […]

  3. […] Now, if only I could channel that focus while writing. Ooh, look, squirrel! […]

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