10 Ways for ADD Writers to STAR WARS! …Be More Productive

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Other writers frequently ask how I somehow manage to get a lot of stuff done, despite my having the attention span of a ferret…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.

We’ve been talking this week about how to be able to do all it takes to not only be a digital age author, but to freaking ROCK IT while we are here. Truthfully, the explosion of social media is just proof to me that ADD people will rule the world…which probably explains all those “End of the World” prophesies.

In the meantime? We have dreams and deadlines and most of us have grown fond of clean clothes. Also, our family is all needy and whiny and says things like, “Mommy, why is there no food?” “Daddy, why won’t the lights turn on?” “Honey, why are there people living in our basement?”

*rolls eyes*

Can you say “high maintenance”?

OKAY, so tips…

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.

I also add stuff to the list I’ve already done…just so I can cross it out because it makes me smile and feel SUPER accomplished. Don’t judge me because you do it, too.

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2. Understand that feelings are narcissists and 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. 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 One.

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.

Four times a week I go to Jiu Jitsu and roll around on the mats and inflict pain on large men. Sure, it is probably Freudian, but it is also fun and it helps keep the joints loose and the mind calm.

10. Drink lots of water. The clear stuff. That stuff from the faucet.

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.


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Some experts say multitasking doesn’t work and that is simply because they suck at it.

Multitasking is awesome for ADD people namely because by definition we need at least two simultaneous activities to talk our brain into cooperating. Why some people suck at multitasking is 1) they have a normal boring brain that needs time to buffer or 2) they pick the wrong activities to pair together.

BAD IDEA: Using a chainsaw to clear deadwood while doing baby-mommy yoga.

GOOD IDEA: Listening to soundtrack to American Horror Story while clearing deadwood and making mental notes of the feel of chainsaw for future use in stories.

I’ll give an example of a great way to multitask. As writers, READING is a huge part of our job. I can almost instantly tell writers who don’t read, mostly because their writing sucks.

Audio books are our friend. I inhale audio books while folding laundry or doing mundane but necessary chores like taxes dishes.

Thing is, pair one rote activity with one that you need to do that will engage and develop your creative brain. It’s about working smarter, not harder. And, since your ADD brain likes to paint the cat when you aren’t looking, giving it story time keeps it happy and engaged and out of trouble.

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 OCTOBER, 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.

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. Reblogged this on Tina Bausinger and commented:
    Kristen is my social media HERO! And, she make me giggle.

  2. Reblogged this on Finding Myself Through Writing and commented:
    Take a note – or two – or ten – from Kristin’s productivity list whether you are ADD or not. # 1 I’ve got down to a science – you know the part, how you add something already done to your endless list so you can cross it off? That makes you feel accomplished. And that bonus tip – audio books are my new best friend! Thanks for the tips Kristin. ~Elle

  3. From one ADD to another, audio books are the best companion ever in the car.

  4. Great post, Kristen. Great posts come from a winning topic paired with good writing. You score double points. 🙂

  5. I LOVE crossing things off lists, so yes, I am guilty of adding a few super simple and/or already completed items. 😉

  6. It took me over an hour to read this because I got distracted. 😀 I have been keeping lists for as long as I can remember. I also take breaks from sitting at my desk by doing things like dishes, laundry, etc–it helps me clear my head, then when I go back to the computer I have “fresh mine” and I can once again concentrate on what I’m doing. I also multitask. When I am doing something physical (like washing said dishes or folding laundry) I am thinking about what I just wrote or outlined, or what I need to do next, or both. I’m not a big audio book person, but I am an avid reader. I have a book with me all the time-when I’m in line at the store, at the Dr’s office, waiting in the car, etc.
    As someone who sufferes from ADHD, anxiety, and depression I’ve found that taking a brisk walk first thing in the mornings and then a relaxing walk in the evenings also helps me. That, and shutting off social media.

  7. I love lists. I make a list of stuff I want to do in each season. I make a list of housework that needs to be done. I make a list of groceries to buy. I make lists of books I want to read. I makes lists of lists I want to make. It’s so much fun crossing them off. It’s like setting up pop cans on the fence post and shooting them down with a BB gun. Sometimes my aim’s off, but I get it eventually. Love that ADD/ADHD photo you started with. Brilliant!

  8. I do think the ADD of the world have got an edge with this age of the digital. It used to be all about focus. Today you have to multitask and switch back and forth like a rubber ball. I am more of a linear focused person. I have no problem sitting down and hammering out a 90,000 word manuscript at 2,000 words per day and then editing it four times. Three months. Book done. Awesome. Blog? What blog? Social media? I remember something about Facebook from three months ago. Okay,I’m not that bad but I would be if I let myself focus all the time. Not focusing can be a good thing if it allows you to multitask and do various jobs in small bits and still get back to the big lengthy tasks (such as writing books). Disability is in the eye of,,, the medical profession. And they’re into focus and exact precision. (Aren’t you glad when they’re drilling on your teeth or doing surgery?) That doesn’t mean you can’t run with your strengths.

  9. I found myself nodding and laughing as I read through this….so true!! Great tips.

  10. KRISTEN! THIS: http://bigthink.com/videos/Wendy-suzuki-on-can-exercise-enhance-creativity

    It’s only a little over 3-minutes long. I think even you can watch it. 😀 (I slay me, sometimes.)

  11. I use lists and exercise. I recently downloaded the Pomodoro timer app to my desktop and that helps to keep me on task with breaks. And I always! Do my writing first, M-F.

    • Rachel Thompson on October 21, 2015 at 9:02 am
    • Reply

    ” Do or do not, there is no try.” Yoda

      • AngeliaSparrow on October 21, 2015 at 1:09 pm
      • Reply

      Try is the liminal space between effort and success. You may have put in all the work you can, but the success, the Do, rests on other people or on the timer.

    • Angie on October 21, 2015 at 9:18 am
    • Reply

    Love it. Distractions abound. Oh, look, a squirrel!

    • Tamara LeBlanc on October 21, 2015 at 9:30 am
    • Reply

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! STAR WARS and Kristen Lamb will get me EVERY TIME! “Laugh it up, fuzzball!”
    he he he…
    Have a great Wednesday 🙂
    Tamara “I’d rather kiss a Wookie” LeBlanc

  12. Reblogged this on Michelle Eastman Books.

  13. This is so funny, but also painfully accurate. I am that Rotten ecard!

  14. I thought I was the only one who added things I’d already done to my “to do” list so I could feel the satisfaction of crossing them off. I’m so glad I’m not the only cheater around 🙂
    This is a great list. I find that if I start feeling fatigued in the middle of the afternoon, I haven’t been drinking my water (it makes me have to leave my imaginary friends and use the restroom). So I chug a liter, take a lap around the block and I’m ready to focus in again.
    Thanks for another encouraging post.

      • Eugenie Black on October 21, 2015 at 10:43 am
      • Reply

      Sharon – you are SO not alone in this!

  15. I like lists. I make them, but then they disappear…I suspect the cat…

  16. What, you mean I can’t live on ice cream and cookie sprinkles?

    I’ve always been a list maker (and yes, writing things down just so I can cross them off), and I’m working on doing the hard stuff first. I love your swiss cheese analogy – adding that one to my repertoire!

  17. The force is strong in this one.
    Hey Kristen, you nailed it. Funny too. What a lady!

  18. omg – love this!!! Great tips delivered quickly and with humor. What could be better? What I got out of this? A lot. Primarily: I have to try audio books. Don’t know why I’m afraid…
    Have a great day!!

  19. Reblogged this on Mystery and Romance and commented:
    THis…. says it all so brilliantly!

  20. http://suzyparish.org/2015/10/21/kristen-lambs-brilliant-musings-just-dont-get-your-feelings-hurt/
    Comment! Link! Enter me! Seriously, this is primo advice. My favorite was drinking more water, because I have never heard anyone else give that as a writing tip. It makes sense though, to keep those pathways flowing. Thank you for a post that I intend on saving, to refer back to often.

  21. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

  22. I’ve been using the swiss cheese and multi-tasking approaches forever! Thank you so much for sharing, from one ADHD to another!

    • Lynn Ford on October 21, 2015 at 11:23 am
    • Reply

    Thank you – Great all around, and entertaining, summary!

    (I don’t have ADD/ADHD – but I still have many of the traits (and when I haven’t lost my list, boy, does having that list of “to-do’s” help! 🙂 I think this could also help, as I get ready for NaNoWriMo.)

  23. And reading funny posts like this are great for getting our comedy fix for the day. Your humor rocks!

    • Melissa Lewicki on October 21, 2015 at 11:55 am
    • Reply

    When we were getting ready to move back to the States from Germany, I made so many lists stat I had to come up with an index to my lists…. Military wives are awesome at multitasking.

  24. Thank you Kristen Lamb’s very wonderful blog you have. I am still reading it will take awhile lots of accomplishment.

  25. I just recently figured out that what I saw as laziness or inability to actually function is, in fact, ADD, and this post came at the perfect time. I’m struggling to find ways to cope and write my books without either neglecting my mommy duties or feeling guilty when I’m not writing. Thank you for the tips and for letting me know I’m not alone.

  26. What a post… Funny and brilliant and crazy and honest and instructional. A killer combination.

  27. Oh, I thought it was just me that had ADD. I, too, make lists. Then I often misplace the lists. So I start a new one. Trying to remember what was on the first one. By the time I remember half the stuff from the first one to put on the second one, I find the first one…
    One thing you did not mention that I find extremely helpful is QUIET TIME. I often turn off the radio in my car and just let my mind wander. Driving is soothing (to me) and I’m a captive audience to the silence and my wandering mind. It might feel weird at first, but you get used to it. Then you crave it.

    • AngeliaSparrow on October 21, 2015 at 1:07 pm
    • Reply

    I believe in work and luck. Do the work, and recognize the opportunities luck throws your way. Every break I’ve had has been nearly pure luck: being on a fannish mailing list at the right time to see a call for original anthology stories, meeting the right person to boost me along.

    But you have to see and follow up and those are work.

    Make use of Time Confetti, the minutes spent waiting. Read. Tweet. Make a blog post. If your minutes drag to an hour, write. I wrote one book on loading docks and in my sleeper berth, in the waiting times.

    1. I LOVE that term, Time Confetti *stealing!*

  28. Wow! So many of us related to this post. I wonder if I’m ADD? I think I am just creative. But, I so needed this kick in the @$$! Thank you!

  29. The problem is when you try to enslave cats they always end up as the master. My thing is I often forget that audio books exist, and that i should listen to them. My personal list is a group of items that I will get done that done. Usually no more than 13.

  30. I love this post. I have friends who have ADD but don’t write. Oh, chocolate. So I shared them this post as it might help them with every day life. Did I hang that washing? Oh, bills to pay, that puts me on the internet. Check emails. Oops, must get back to writing. What, Christmas is coming?

  31. I’m a certified ADDer, but nothing ropes me to calm focus than writing. I use the man cave. No windows. Just me and the radon.

    Social Media? I’m in need of a serious intervention ; with a straight jacket.

  32. I love the pace of your blogs, lots here but easy to skip through, while multitasking of course, water, water, water, for me tai chi and doggy walks – there’s no way Corrie would let me forget those, add to lists to cross off – we all do that surely? I listen to books or podcasts or catch up with YouTube stuff while ironing, too boring to just stand and stare at clothes, often while dog walking too although that can be time to sort the head for the writing stuff of course, blogging and social media, well sometimes that reminds us we are human too and need some sort of interaction with other humans – when it fits with the writing, the lists, the dog, the exercise…

  33. Does tea count as water? I sit down for my morning’s work with a large pot of tea and sip my way through it by lunchtime. The resulting necessary breaks (ahem) are just opportunities to chew over plot problems, or dream up what happens next. Also useful for that stretching people insist we’re supposed to have every hour, or something.
    And thanks for Bonus Tip #11 – I can’t multifocus, but I can multitask.

    • Kerrie on October 21, 2015 at 6:46 pm
    • Reply

    I should be listening to a conference call but instead I’m reading this and adding “get audio books” to my list because MULTI-TASKING! Thanks for all the other tips too, it all helps ?

  34. This is great. It’s not just me! Whenever I find my mind wandering off, and it’s past the point of being able to wrangle it back to the task at hand, I get up and walk around the house. Even if I do nothing while I’m up, it helps reset the brain — and sometimes I even put in laundry, or dishes, or get water while I’m up. It helps! Something else that helps: coloring! If I’m drifting out of focus, switching to coloring a picture, even just a part of a picture, really helps.

  35. Reblogged this on MDellert-dot-Com.

  36. You’re awesome, Kristen, as always. And I had to smile at the comment about feelings, because I’m working on a Halloween story right now about a medium and have derived a lot of inspiration from that wonderful little show. :>

  37. this might be the best thing i’ve ever read. ever. seriously, i’m not kidding. i just laughed my ass off. you now have a new subscriber. 🙂

    1. YAY! Great to meet you! I will be migrating the site soon, so make sure you stay posted. I wouldn’t want to lose you.

  38. er… i THINK you have a new subscriber… wordpress can be tricky… anyway, i’m off to write & illustrate & watch tv & feed the cat & make coffee & did i mention it’s 3 am? lol, g’nite. 😉

  39. People with boring minds just don’t “get” is do they?

    I do everything on here. Definitely a list writer and also take pleasure in re-writing my to-do list. End of the day go though everything I’ve accomplished and count it as a big win when I only have a couple of things that need to be written on the next day’s list.

    1. And unfortunately with ADD sometimes you don’t catch a mistake before hitting post… “Get” us. Lol

  40. This is a great blog? Thanks! I certainly could use all of these tips today. It’s my day off from all three of my jobs but I need to work on my career goals and this just encouraged me to get up off my a&$ and go!!

  41. Thanks. Funny and entertaining and good tips. I didn’t think I was ADD and as a child I was tested for hyperactivecy, but was found to be borderline. I see it in my son, too. After reading your blog and other clues, I think I might be But…you find a way to make it work. List. YES! praise be. Thanks for the reminder!

    ~ Tam Francis ~

  42. This is a really great article! I have so many writer friends who tell me about this issue. Now I can direct them somewhere.

  43. Yi! It’s like you have me on hidden camera… Thanks? 😉

  44. Reblogged this on Fanny Fae and commented:
    Sometimes having ADD is a blessing and at other times it’s a curse. It’s nice to know that as a writer afflicted / blessed with this condition, that you aren’t alone. KristenLamb wrote a great piece about it.

  45. Reblogged this on writersback and commented:
    So truthful and helpful. Another great blog from Kristen Lamb. Writing is like swimming up stream upside down. You have to just keep going, like Dori, and have blinders on. I have lost alot of friends by default because well, friends take time and they don’t understand it takes all your free time (and more) to write a book. I do have a few patient friends who have stuck with me from the beginning and they get it, I have to stay focused. I tend to be more productive in my writing first thing in the morning (and before dot (daughter) is home from school). So, for several hours I set “little deadlines” for myself, where I won’t get that cup of coffee or streudel until I’ve finished the next chapter. I find I get so immersed I forget about the coffee and then its already lunch time. I save the research for when dot is home and treat it like my homework. Great advice about the water too. Thank you. Kat Kent.

  46. This is a fascinating and educating list writers should definitely read. Thank you for your efforts to teach and help writers like me.

  47. Thank you, Kristen! This post was so entertaining I kept copy-pasting parts of it to a friend while he’s at work and totally ruined his schedule 🙂
    I’m borderline ADD and I find myself doing a lot of the things you mentioned – write 200 words, do a load of laundry – and it works! Before, I used to not even try and write while waiting for the laundry when I know I need to fold and stuff afterwords, but I’ve realised giving up without even trying first is a losing tactic. And you’ve reminded me of that. So, thank you! Oh, look, it’s time for a new load 😀

  48. Reblogged this on Yoanna vs the World and commented:
    Some excellent (and very entertaining) advice for ADD or just easily distracted people 🙂

  49. You must be the fly on my wall…..except for the audio books which I must try you were spot on..ha ha… but the only problem is that mundane have to do tasks are my dream time and run plot through my brain time but will give audio a try. Have a lovely day 🙂

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