By October K Santerelli
Building a positive relationship with your writing can make all the difference in helping someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism Spectrum Condition/Disorder (ASC/D). I’m no stranger to the “rules” authors post about, swearing they’re the secrets to success. Whenever I can’t meet those expectations because of my ADHD, I feel bad. Eventually, I had to take a long hard look at what I was trying to do, and give myself—and now you—permission to try something else entirely.
What are the top three “writing rules” worth breaking?
- “Write every day!”
Don’t. Write when the mood strikes, and build a routine that can help get you in the mood. Trick your brain into “work mode.” Put on your shoes. Light a candle. Put on the same playlist every time. After a while, it’ll be like a light switch. When you light that candle, your brain will find writing easier.
If those don’t work? Don’t force it. When you try to force yourself to create and fail, you start to build up negative self-talk, doubts, resentment—a whole host of nasty feelings. Some days just won’t be writing days, and that’s fine. A lot of authors don’t write every day (even if we all say we do).
I still try every day. I sit down, open the document, and stare at it. Some days, nothing happens. Some days I write a lot.
- “Write 1000 words or more every day!”
If you find yourself struggling, 1000 words can suddenly seem like Mount Everest. Try incremental goals instead. My first goal is one sentence. Then one paragraph. 100 words. 250 words, 500… and all of a sudden 1000 words isn’t that hard anymore. The hard part is getting started. Once I have that first sentence, I usually write more.
If I don’t? I pat myself on the back for that little bit. It really helps to celebrate every success. If you only write one sentence, you still wrote. Circle back to it later and you might write another one, and that’ll be two sentences more than you had before.
- “Sit down and block out x hours every day just for writing.”
I’ve found that the best way to keep my brain productive is to tell it there’s a very immediate deadline. It’s called “sprints.” Writing sprints are where you write in 15-30 minute chunks. Set a timer, start writing, and just see what happens. Once that time is up, take a break. Do a chore, get a snack, check social media.
By setting that arbitrary shorter deadline, my brain can see an end. It will work harder and focus better because it knows we only have to do it for a little bit. It also helps me get started. The little kick of adrenaline from a timer is a really good way to overcome that ever-famous executive dysfunction.
Good luck, and happy writing.
Biography: October K Santerelli is a fantasy author and LGBTQ+ sensitivity reader from Denver, Colorado. His works span several genres and forms of media. He writes novels, short stories, and comics. Being LGBTQ+ has allowed him to edit and sensitivity read for indie and traditional authors alike. Visit octoberksanterelli.com for more. Check out City of Day