Keeping Track: Tips for Managing Multiple Writing Projects

It is not uncommon for me to have at four or five writing projects in progress. The gift of ADHD means that I always have projects. Some are large, long term projects such as developing my editorial calendar, manuscript drafts and edits, others are short such as website content and blog posts, and some fall in between, think short stories and journal articles. Although I love the reminder feature on my Google calendar, as a visual person I have difficulty conceptualizing time when it is represented by little boxes on a computer screen limited to a one month view.

 

Click here for my post on Creative Acts and Self Care

I need to see it all. My solution is a twelve month wall calendar. I like a Write on/ Wipe off type, ever so helpful if deadlines, or project details change.
I know some people are able to just work on one thing, and then move on to their next project, but my mind does not work that way. I need to be able to move to a different project when I get bored with what I am working on, and want to start something new (because new always feels good), going back to another project gives me the same feeling of doing something different, and yet it propels me forward in that task so in the end it all gets done.

Click here for my post on using flat files to keep my big projects organized

I also make notes in each file, listing the next steps to complete the project. For example, word count goals, scenes left to write or rewrite, necessary research, lists of of photographs/ images needed, correspond with a co-author, conduct an interview, follow up on an email, etc. I make these notes at the end of the manuscript and/or on the outline.  What, no outline? Read my post about outlines here. Outlines really are helpful.
I started keeping my Next Steps List when I was working on my master’s thesis. It kept me on track so I could finish my thesis on time, using every second of time I had to work effectively.
A Next Steps List helps in three ways:
1. You know what you need to do next to move toward completing your project and can get right back to work after a break in writing, invaluable with limited writing time.
2. A Next Steps List clears your brain so you can move on and work on other projects without the distraction and worry that you are forgetting something.
3. Crossing out tasks as you finish them is a visual reminder that you are making progress. A visual reminder of your progress helps maintain motivation on long projects.

In addition to my other writing projects, I write this blog and am starting another in February. (Stay tuned for details).  If you are a blogger, or want to be one, the best thing you can do for yourself is to create an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is simply a calendar that you use to plan posts that you want to write, give them publishing dates and plan your posts. Keep it loose, give yourself permission to change what your post is about if you don’t want to write about that topic that week. Your editorial calendar allows you to plan in advance, gives you a place to park all your ideas for posts, and keeps you focused on your goals for the blog.

Most writers deal with deadlines, family obligations, work, holidays, and travel. Having a long term plan will help you stick to your writing schedule, turn projects in on time, and increase your productivity.  Make a plan. Hatch your dreams. Keep writing.

Tips for Traveling with ADD/ADHD

Road Trip 2014

 

Traveling with ADD/ADHD feels like this.

 

Traveling means a change in routine. Change combined with sensory overload is a recipe for major distraction issues, anger management issues, and overwhelm. I love to visit new places and experience new things, but getting there is stressful. It was bad enough when I just had to worry about getting myself from point A to point B but with kids it is complicated.

Instead of just my own needs, I need to worry about two other people getting where they need to go, safely, and to have fun on the way. It is one thing to get lost, miss a flight, or forget items of clothing, when it is just you, it is very problematic with kids.
These are the things that we do at our house to make it easier when we travel by car, and when we take plane trips.

 1. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! Sorry to be so shouty but if you don’t follow any of the other tips, please embrace this one. The sooner you get your tickets, plan your route, pack your bags, put in your mail hold, and make reservations, the less chance you have of screwing everything up beyond repair.
2. Set reminders in your phone or on your computer to remind you to do the things in number 1.
3. Take time to make a plan, using Who, Where, When, What and How for your trip. Think of this as an outline, not etched in stone.
4. Make a packing list. If your want to get fancy you could make a permanent one that you laminate and write on with dry erase markers.  If you travel a lot a permanent list that lives in your suitcase is helpful.
5. Make kids responsible for their own entertainment bag/carry on. Young children will need guidance, older kids should be told they are on their own, and that they will have to be responsible for carrying it and keeping track of what they bring. The rule for older kids is you have to be able to pick it up and run with it, in case we have to try to catch a connecting flight.
6. If you or family members take medications be sure pack enough for several days in your carry-on luggage in case your bags are lost.
7. I can not travel without music. It helps me relax and keeps me from being overwhelmed and aggravated by the noises on a flight. Although the last several flights I have been on have been really quiet. Thank you smart phones and tablets.
8. Pack healthy snacks and lunches. When we travel by car we always pack a picnic lunch. This saves money, time, and we are not forced to eat crappy fast food. This is more difficult traveling by air. On long flights, we pack healthy snacks, and sandwiches that do not need refrigeration.
9. Pack earplugs or noise canceling headphones for flights. Most ADD/ADHD people have sensory issues, and a plane flight is very difficult as we can’t move about, and we are overstimulated by all the people energy, and noise around us. If your kids have ADD/ADHD, find kid sized headphones for them. Understand that travel is hard on kids without sensory issues, it is magnified in kids with sensory issues.
10. Be understanding of yourself. If keeping track of the tickets is stressful and you have another adult or responsible older child with you, let them keep track of the tickets.
11. Breathe. Focus on the fun you will have when you finally get where you are going. Remember if it gets crazy it will make a great story later.
Peace and safe travels.
Why yes,  that is a giant bottle of ear plugs.

 

 

Zoë Kessler ADHD Accoding to Zoë _ A Year of Women’s Voices

Zoë Kessler’s book ADHD According to Zoë : The Real Deal on Relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (2013) is the first book I recommend to women with ADHD.

Ms. Kessler’s book offers suggestions for the issues that ADHD folks deal with everyday, and she does it with humor and honesty. Her poignant stories and examples of the effects that ADHD has had on her life left me laughing, and a little teary remembering some examples from my own life. She effectively articulates the belief that many individuals with ADHD have: everyone else must know some grand secret way to keep it all together AND remember where they put it.
Ms. Kessler’s book differs in her honest approach to how ADHD affects social relationships and sexuality, a topic that most books address fleetingly or not at all.  Ms. Kessler’s suggestions and tips are truly helpful. The solutions presented are things that folks with ADHD would able to accomplish, not some solution dreamed up by someone who has no idea what it is like to be wired 24/7/365 with a short attention span, unless we are hyper-focused.  Ms. Kessler’s warmth and genuine desire to help comes through in her writing. Reading this book is like having a conversation with a close understanding friend.
Ms. Keller also examines and addresses the stress that comes from being a woman with ADHD and the social construct that women are the center of the family, able to take care of everyone and everything else in addition to themselves, addictions, disorganization and time management,  sexuality, social issues, impulsiveness, the need to move, financial issues, creativity, and overwhelm. She encourages women to embrace their differences and find ways to work with who they are, instead of trying to force themselves to become the imagined perfection of everyone else.
Her message of hope that everyone diagnosed with ADHD treat themselves “with the respect, kindness and love that you deserve” is a welcome one.  If you only have one book on your shelf that deals with ADHD make it this one.
As a writer and fellow club member this is what I have learned reading  Zoë Kessler’s book and her very helpful blog ADHD from A to Zoe

 

 

1.  Tell your story honestly.
2.  Humor makes it easier to talk about difficult topics.
3.  Real life examples are an effective way to tell your story.
4.  It is possible to make writing about self-help FUNNY and helpful.
5.  Embrace you unconventional self, let it show in your writing.
Here a short bio and contact information for Ms. Kessler.
Zoë Kessler (http://www.zoekessler.com) is a best-selling author, journalist, and motivational speaker who specializes in topics relating to adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).
A top blogger at Psych Central.com, Kessler‘s blog, ADHD from A to Zoë has garnered a loyal readership from around the globe. Kessler also blogs for The Huffington Post, and is a frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine. She’s created radio documentary and standup comedy about being a woman living with ADHD. Zoë’s been interviewed on international radio, and has been featured in print media, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD, including Scientific American Mind Magazine.
Kessler’s most recent book, ADHD According to Zoë: The Real Deal on Relationships, Finding Your Focus, and Finding Your Keys has been described as a must-read, spellbinding portrayal of a woman with ADHD.

Holiday Hell or How to Survive the Holidays with ADHD

This is my face when I know that we are heading into the holidays. I am happy but cautious. I know that for me and folks like me the normal everyday distractions that cause us to wander off into our own little world multiply like rabbits gone wild.

 

 Many Christmas mornings I have felt like this, off center and out of focus,
 after having indulged in things like this,

 

and this.

 

I love the holidays, but I am easily overwhelmed by the lights, shiny objects, people, and activities that go with the holidays. Parties, gift buying, gift wrapping, kids off from school, travel, big family dinners, New Years celebrations are great and horrible at the same time. I loose track of everything, my routines are interrupted, and I get very little done. For many years it would take me until February to get back to center. Here are my top ten survival strategies to make the holidays less overwhelming

1. Plan some time each day to just sit. Even if it is just ten minutes, set a timer and forget about everything, let your brain and adrenal glands rest.
2. Limit or no alcohol.  I know it sounds harsh, and I know it is the season to be merry, but too much merry makes for a rough day the next day. ADHD folks often have issues with substance abuse, and the holidays make it so easy to over indulge. We like to quiet the noise in our heads with libations. Be honest with yourself about this.
3. SET A BUDGET for gifts, entertaining, and decorations. Really. Managing money is tough for folks with ADHD.  Impulsive spending feels good, and combined with the distractions of the season can cause debt to balloon to epic proportions. Do it. You will be grateful when you are not still paying for the holidays in July of 2018
4. Say No. You can do it. Say NO to those events, and situations that have caused you stress in the past. This will be impossible if it involves family. In family situations, if your really feel that you have to participate, set time limits. If you know that certain family members become total nut-cakes, and act out after a few glasses of eggnog, leave before it happens.  If this is you, see tip #2. Remember, their drama does not have to be your drama.
5. As hard as it is, keep up with your exercise routine. Be creative if you are traveling. Go for a walk, ride your bike, heck even shoveling snow is great exercise.  For folks with ADHD, some sort of movement each day is essential self care.
6. Eat well. Have some holiday treats but beware of the stress-eat sugar-max out my caffeine-screw it because it is the holidays trap. Loading your body with stimulants only exacerbates your impulsiveness and makes you do crazy things.
7. Avoid busy shopping times. I pretty much stay away from big box and chain retail stores from November until the middle of January. I shop local. Small stores are great, less overwhelming and have fewer choices. I also like supporting my neighbors and small businesses.
8. Go back and read this post about getting better sleep .  Really.
9. If other family members have ADHD remember that they are struggling too. Help your kids by modeling coping skills for sensory overload and situational overwhelm. Remind them that they can take breaks when ever they need to calm down. Help them moderate their sugar intake. Be aware that the stress of the holidays can make kids with no issues act out, ADD/ADHD just stacks the deck.
10. Enjoy yourself. Do what you need to do for your own self-care and your family’s well-being. If folks judge you for that, that is their problem, don’t let it be yours.

I hope these tips help.

My daughter trying to make the Grinch feel better.

My smirk, perpetuated by my son…

Flexibility and ADD/ADHD: Why it is hard to shift gears

So my driveway has looked like this for the last three weeks. Yes, that is my backyard on the other side and the only way to get to it is to walk around the block to the back gate. The second week of driveway repair, my tub leaked into the ceiling, which then looked like this,

and the plumber couldn’t get back to fix it for a week.

That being said, I have had better luck trying to replace our windows. The windows in our property have needed replacing for some time now. As windows get older they can often get damaged by bad weather and this can cause them to let in a draft. Over time this can actually have an impact on your utility bills as you end up having to use more energy than necessary to keep your home warm.

Anyway, a friend of ours who lives in Missouri told me that she managed to find an amazing window replacement company online by searching for ‘replacement windows kansas city‘. We all search for things online nowadays, so if ever you need a home renovation expert to take care of any remodeling work on your property, doing some research online and comparing your options can help you to find the best possible contractor at the most affordable price for your budget.

Ultimately, I was able to find a great window company in our area and they have promised to visit us at some point over the next couple of weeks.

So what has all this got to do with flexibility?

For folks with ADD/ADHD we struggle to find our equilibrium when our routines are disrupted. I have misplaced my keys three times in one day, because my driveway is still under construction, and we can’t use our normal route in and out of the house. Where do I hang my coat and keys? Where are we going to keep the leashes, shoes, coats, bags, and everything else we have organized to make getting out of the house easier?

Most people can adapt and adjust to a disruption of their routines pretty quickly. ADD/ADHD folks find it much harder to adjust. It often takes us a very long time to find a routine that enables us to accomplish our goals. We seem inflexible because any disruption of our routine makes it that much harder for us to get out of the door and accomplish anything because we feel frustrated, confused, and angry at the disruption.
We can’t let go of our routines, and we can’t let go of our desire to return to what was working. We sabotage ourselves so often, that when our routine is disrupted from the outside, we freak out, call it a wash, act out, and get nothing done.

Here are my five tips for coping when an event disrupts your routine.

1. If your normal staging area is blocked (your landing/take off pad), take the time to establish a new one. You will waste less time in the long run.
2. Forget about keeping all of your routines in place. Breathe. Decide what is most important. Enlist help from other people if you need help with sorting important tasks from unimportant tasks.
3. Understand that home improvement projects are unpredictable. Estimated completion times are just that, an estimate.
4. Remember to eat well. Do not fall into the uber-caffeinated/ junk food/ drink a lot/ screw all my good intentions/ I’m stressed out because my house is broken, excuse.
5. If you work at home, try and stick to your office routine. If you can not work because the noise of the project is disruptive, or watching the large equipment is hypnotic, find another site to work. Libraries often have study rooms you can use during school hours. I call the local library my branch office.
6. Do not start any new projects, even if you really, really want to because of the stress.
7. Remember renovation/ home improvement projects are hard on other family members, including pets. Work together to figure out what works for everyone.

I hope these tips help. Remember if it all is too much, you can always watch the heavy equipment.

 

 

Tips for Coping with a Family Member’s Illness: Trying to be Still when All You Want to do is Run

We all have times in our lives when we have to wait to see how things will work out. We can’t flip to the end of the story to see if our favorite characters make it.

I am in that space right now. My dad is dealing with some health issues. No matter how hard I try I can not bend the space-time continuum to see if everything will be okay, and I get to enjoy my dad for many more years. Life stress can cause anyone to indulge in, or develop unhealthy behaviors.

Stress, for those of us with ADHD can lead to some incredibly destructive behavior. Our normally hyper-charged system goes into overdrive from the extra adrenaline in our systems.We often suffer from raging insomnia, and do wildly impulsive things based on our addictions of choice. We make poor decisions because we are tired. Our struggles to focus are intensified as routines are interrupted by ourselves, or the need to care for others.

We struggle to keep still, to fight our urge to bolt. Our desire to seek the comfort of distraction and movement intensifies. Excess is the hallmark of our lack of coping. We may find ourselves over-eating, over-spending, over-drinking, over-exercising, over-reading (yes, it is possible), starting a new hobby, or deciding that now is the time to start building that addition / greenhouse / remodel a bathroom.

Unable to cope with our discomfort and lack of control, we start every project on our to-do list, creating even more stress. You do get a lot of things done, but you often end up exhausted and more stressed, as well as adding to the stress of those around you.

 This is not my first time at the cancer rodeo, standing in the chute, waiting to see how bad, or short the ride might be. These are five tips for coping when a family member has health issues:

1. Breathe. Stop, and make yourself take ten slow breathes.
2. Sit. Stop, and make yourself sit. Set a timer and take ten minutes to check in with yourself and what you are feeling. If possible sit outside. Spending even just a little time in nature is good for you.
3. Hug. Hug the people around you, hold on tight (not in a creepy way). Remember they are stressed too.
4. Stop starting new things. Finish what needs to be finished.
5. Set a timer for a certain time everyday to stop what you are doing and think about the person you are worried about, pray, meditate, send woo, send love, chant, whatever your spiritual beliefs are just do it. Just doing this one thing consistently kept me grounded through a best friend’s battle with cancer.

I hope these help. They have helped me keep it together when my life felt like it was exploding.

Ten Tips for Improving Your Sleep–No Really

This is how I imagine most of us would like to sleep, tucked in, snuggled up, with no worries. For most of my life I have not slept well, which results in afternoon episodes like this

  and morning face that looks like this

until I have had my caffeinated beverage of choice.

I worked night-shift for years, figuring if I wasn’t sleeping I might as well make some money while I was awake.  As a day sleeper, I developed an unnatural hatred of leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and weed-whackers during that time. I still have periods of insomnia, that combined with my hyperactivity have resulted in re-upholstered chairs, stripped wall-paper, and thousands of written words (NANOWRIMO I am talking about you) in the middle of the night.

Sleep really does make a difference.  Some studies have suggested that going without sleep affects reaction times and judgement as much drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana. Even though marijuana is now being used to treat different sleep disorders and lack of sleep, medical marijuana (such as the quality of cannabis you’re able to find if you were to Read more about this online Canadian dispensary for example) has many medical properties that can be benefitted from, should it be consumed correctly under a medical professionals guidance. Lack of sleep has also been linked to weight gain, poor immune response and depression. Twenty-four hour access to the Internet, unlimited streaming movies and television are often blamed for sleep disorders.
As someone who had issues with sleeping well before the advent of cable television, WI-FI, and smart phones I don’t think that simply turning off your devices is the answer. Individuals with ADD/ADHD often have sleep issues related to hyper-focusing on a project, anxiety, hyperactivity, disorganization, and over-commitment,

The following is a list of things that I have complied that have helped me sleep better. I don’t address the sleep issues that come from raising children, because I don’t have  a clue how to address them. If you have any answers or suggestions, please share them!

I hope these suggestions help you to sleep better, and as always do the best you can.

  1. Create a routine before bed. It works for kids because it sends signals that it is time to wind down and go to sleep. A cup of tea or beverage of choice can help.
  2. Avoid screens about two hours before bed. Back lit screens stimulate your brain, and the soap opera that is Facebook and social media can keep you awake. Although cute pictures of babies and pets may make for happy dreams, trying to sleep after reading a political rant, a social outrage piece, or some terrible news before bed stimulates your brain in a negative way.
  3. Make your bedroom as dark as it can be, and make it a tech free zone. No computers, no TV, and if your cell/smart phone is your house phone locate it so that you have to get out of bed to get to it, do not put it on your bedside table.
  4. Prepare for the next day. Get your clothes out, make the lunches, make a list of what needs to be done. Empty your brain of all tasks that you know you need to do and haven’t done. This prevents the wake up at midnight, “Oh damn, I forgot I need to…” syndrome that keeps you from going back to sleep.
  5. Limit caffeine. I know this sounds simple but finding out how late you can drink a caffeinated beverage and still sleep is vital. I know if I have anything with caffeine after twelve noon, I will be wired until one or two in the morning. Find out your threshold and deploy caffeine strategically.
  6. Take a warm bath or shower before bed. It works for kids and it can work for you too. If you want to get fancy try some lavender bubble bath or soap.
  7. Exercise. You know you should. Remember taking a walk around the block, gardening, and playing with your kids counts.
  8. Check in with yourself. Do you have aches and pains that keep you awake? Do you need a new mattress or pillow?If your bed is not comfortable you will not sleep.
  9. Are your animals keeping you up? I sleep better if my dogs are with me but some people don’t. Don’t be afraid of establishing new rules about who sleeps where, remember you are the boss, even if the cat doesn’t think so.
  10. Take a minute before you fall asleep to think of good things in your life, even if it takes you more than a minute, it is time well spent.
Bonus tip: If you are re-upholstering chairs in the middle of the night while your partner is sleeping, don’t use the staple gun.

5 Tips for Going Back to School Without Loosing Your Mind

School started this week for my kids. It is bittersweet. Woohoo! For 3 hours I don’t have to worry when it is too quiet, sort out squabbles, or pay attention to anything but my own work. Dang! Now we have to get up at the same time five days in a row, brush hair, pack lunches, and wear clothes other than bathing suits.

I am so happy to have my time back, but I have to acknowledge that keeping my kids organized when I struggle myself is daunting. Parenting with ADD/ADHD can be difficult. It is enough most mornings to get myself out the door, on time with everything I need.  When you add walking and feeding the dogs, and two little people that have to be reminded to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth and hair to the mix, and I am overwhelmed at times
After arriving at school, one more than one morning, with no one’s hair brushed, including mine, I decided I needed a checklist, and a schedule for the mornings. I created a routine and started preparing as much as I could the night before. As a parent, I really want to help my kids learn good habits for getting out of the house in the morning. These are my top five survival strategies for back to school.

1.  Use scrap paper and make a morning checklist. Tape to to your coffee pot, or tea cup. For a more permanent solution use a write on-wipe off, or chalk board. Hang it on door that you go out in the morning. Nothing is too trivial, create little check boxes for hair, teeth, clothes, lunches, backpack, and anything special you need to remember.

2. Layout your clothes the night before. Get the kids to lay out their clothes. This avoids the last minute “I can’t decide what to wear” moments that can really derail the morning schedule.

3. Schedule times for breakfast, showers, clothes on, teeth brushed, and out the door. Be flexible, and always allow more time that you think it will take. Set a timer to go off ten minutes before you have to leave, this allows time for everyone to make sure that they are ready to go. This really helps if everyone has to leave at the same time. If you have staggered schedules for your kids set the timer accordingly.

4. Set up a family calendar. Use it. Commit to looking at it before you go to bed, and in the morning, after a caffeinated beverage of your choice.

5. Give yourself enough time in the morning. Do not be unrealistic about how long it takes to get everyone ready, and out the door. I have dogs that have never slept past 6:30. I depend on them to wake us up, and I never set an alarm clock. If you lack furry alarm clocks, or if your dog/cat is unreliable, be sure to set an alarm. Get up when it goes off. Ban the snooze button, it is so not worth the stress of rushing around.

Breathe. Expect the first month of school to be chaos. Work with what you have, and make changes little by little.  Bonus Tip: Always make sure that you have a comb in your car in case you still forget to comb hair.

Embrace Your Attention Issues: Terese Ramin Interview

 

The bar. Again.

I met Terese Ramin at my first writers’ conference. Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling 2012 to be exact. I was loitering at the bar waiting to register. I noticed Terese’s conference badge, and struck up a conversation. She was presenting at the conference. We spent
most of the evening laughing, talking, and getting to know each other over
fries and good beer.

Terese is gracious,
encouraging, and supportive. She is also has ADD/ADHD, and is a successful novelist, and editor. She very kindly agreed to do an interview for this blog.  I have enjoyed Terese’s books.   This is the link to Terese’s Amazon page.   Her biography follows the interview.

1. When were
you diagnosed with ADD/ADHD?

 Terese: **I
was officially diagnosed with ADD in 1996 when I took my son for diagnosis at
his high school’s request. I took the test with him to be supportive.
2.
Was there a specific event that caused you to seek a diagnosis?
Terese:**My
son’s high school requested that he be tested (and put on medication).
3.
Do you think having a diagnosis helped?
Terese: **Yes,
it helped *me* realize what had always held me back / been “wrong” with me, and
why there were “bad conduct” marks on my school records. Girls didn’t have
ADD/ADHD when I was in grade school.
4.
Have you faced any discrimination because of your diagnosis?
Terese: **No.
As an adult, the only people who know about my ADD/ADHD are those I choose to
tell. And since being ADD/ADHD affects my entire life, I let people know. My
son, on the other hand, didn’t want people to know, didn’t want to take meds,
etc., because it would have labeled him in high school as “one of those kids”
who got called out of class to take a prescription medication. We worked with
his ADD/ADHD in other ways and, boy, am I glad! He’s very successful as a
teacher now.
5.
How did you organize/ focus yourself to write books?
Terese: **When
was first diagnosed, I saw a therapist who gave me suggestions to help keep me
focused – creating a CD that looped with the question “Are you on task?” played
at 5 and 10 minutes  intervals.
I
also used a CD called High Focus that essentially
plays white noise. It was highly effective, especially played softly. I also
used guided meditation and a couple of “In the Zone” CDs that are used to help
athletes maintain focus while they work out.
6.
What is the biggest challenge for you when writing a novel?
Terese: **Oh
man. <G> For writing a novel, I need to get to the place in the book
where I can go into hyper-focus. Hyper-focus is something I’m good at – as long
as I’m being stimulated by what I do, or as long as what I’m doing is a
relatively simple, repetitive task (I’m a great editor due to hyper-focus, and
I’m pretty good at detail work – as long my brain doesn’t decide the details
are boring.) Boredom is my biggest problem.
Another
thing that works is for me to be able to get up and wander around doing simple,
non-thinking tasks as I write – taking care of the laundry, loading the
dishwasher, dusting, etc. Those are things I hate to do, but when I do them
during the process of working on a novel, I don’t have to come out of the
“zone” or the story to do them. Doing
simple tasks allows me to daydream the next line, paragraph, or scene, and
return to the computer able to write a few more pages.
7.
Are you an Outliner or Pantser?
Terese: **HA!
I wish I could outline a novel or create a beat sheet, then just fill in the
blanks on the pages. The moment I start to do that, my brain screams “lunch!”
and refuses to budge – it’s that boredom thing or the restless ADHD thing
kicking in: an outline causes me to tell the story to myself, which means I’ve
already written it, which means “bored now” when it comes to trying to write
all 70-85,000 words.
To
counter this, I give myself a blurb to remind myself where I need to get to
from here, post that on the wall where I can see it, and slowly make my way
toward the end goal: a completed novel.
8.
How do you handle the distraction of the internet?
Terese: **Badly.
I have a routine of getting up in the morning, handling my email, reading the
online news, doing a little Facebook / Twitter / social media to keep my name
out there, but that means I also use up my best creative time. I might be
finished with all of those internet things by 8 a.m., but then the dogs need
attention, there are dirty dishes that need attention, the laundry needs to go
into the dryer, etc. It would be far better for me to revise that routine and
start with writing, but it takes a long time for me to create a routine that
works for me. It’s much easier to fall back on the routine I have. The bottom
line is that I’m much much more productive
if I follow a daily routine, but creating the right routine takes thought and discipline that I sometimes don’t
have.
9.
Do you think that it would have been helpful to be diagnosed at an earlier age?
Terese:**Possibly,
in today’s climate, yes. Back when I was growing up? Maybe – at least then my
parents and teachers would have understood the reason for why I was the way I
was. But being diagnosed earlier – especially back in a time when using
ADD/ADHD medication properly was still pretty new – might also have meant being
medicated, which brings up a whole new world of issues.
10.
What advice would you give writers struggling with attention issues?
Terese: **Embrace
your attention issues. I look at my son who’s always done seven or eight things
at the same time – and that worked for him. When he was in school, if he wasn’t
listening to at least one sporting event, playing the guitar (or the bassoon,
or something), reading a book, talking on the phone, trolling the internet AND
doing his homework, I knew he wasn’t getting his schoolwork done. He’s never
needed to be medicated and I’m proud of the man he’s become.
But
I also look at the way he innately handled his ADD/ADHD and I realize that my
own process of staying in the zone by doing housework while I’m writing is much
the same thing. I just need to “stay on task” get back to that routine.
 I hope that reading Terese’s interview inspires you to start writing if you haven’t and to keep going if you have stopped.
Biography:
Terese Ramin is the award winning
author of eleven novels and numerous short stories. Her autobiographical essay,
“Two-Puppy Theory”, is included in the anthology The Sound and the Furry, sales of which benefit the International
Fund for Animal Welfare. The Cured,
her most recent release with author David Wind, is her first suspense-thriller.
Her next release will be an urban paranormal romance with writing partner Dawn
Johanson.
Aside from writing, Terese works
as an editor, ghost writer, book doctor, and a paranormal investigator. She
lives in Michigan with her husband and a bunch of rescued dogs.

You talkin’ to me?! Anger Management and ADHD/ADD

I know you’re not talkin to me…

 Anger, that red hot feeling of pure rage and adrenalin surge that obliterates any rational thought. Most people when they get angry are able, most of the time, to control their impulses and step back.  For people with ADD/ADHD the trip from slightly annoyed to explosive outburst is short. The consequences of uncontrolled outbursts range from strained family relationships to jail time.

 In my own life anger management ranks as high as impulse control on my list of things that complicate my life.  I am still learning to control my anger, and learning to respond in a reasoned and controlled way.  It helps that I am trying to model good behavior for my kids. I love their reminders to “use my words” and “inside voice, mom”. If nothing else it breaks the tension and sometimes it is all I need to get back to normal.

Writing helps too. When I am angry it helps to write it down. Writing forces me to identify just what is pissing me off so much. Writing also forces me to slow down and think. Writing has saved me from myself more times than I care to think about. Here are my tips for anger management.

1. Identify your triggers. Avoid them. This will be more difficult if your triggers are human, and related to you. In that case, try and limit your interactions. If you find yourself triggered by co-workers, supervisors, or your work place, you might want to consider finding a new job. Seriously, your mental health is worth it.

2. Understand that frustration is the most common emotion that leads to anger. Identify what frustrates you, and fix it. Angry because you can’t find your keys, and you are running late for work? Make a plan the night before, keep your keys in the same place. Do what you need to do to make your life less frustrating.

3. Eat. Pay attention to your diet. Make sure that you eat in a way that maintains an steady blood sugar. As much fun as it is to eat a box of doughnuts and wash it down with coffee, be aware that low blood sugar after the binge can precipitate angry emotions. We have all been so hungry that we were angry about everything. Eat.

4. Get enough sleep. Stop laughing. Do the best you can. It really does make a difference.

5. Write it down. Make a list of everything making you angry. Identify what you can change, avoid or let go of. Get it out of your head and on paper. Sometimes when I am done, I just rip the paper to shreds, and toss it out. Find your own ritual to let go of your anger. If your are a fiction writer use your emotions to craft scenes of ultimate destruction, and revenge.

6. Take a walk. Go for a run. Put on loud, angry music and dance. Get the physical feelings out safely. Do not use this as an opportunity to intimidate others with your behavior.

7. Get help. If you find that your outbursts are causing problems in your life, find a mental health care professional to talk to. Some employers have employee assistance programs that provide free anger management counseling, and classes. Many hospitals offer anger and stress management programs. Take advantage of free and low cost programs in your area.

Anger management is possible. It is also our responsibility. Step back, take a breath, count to ten. Do what it takes to get your anger under control. Do it for yourself. Do it for your relationships.