Secrets of a Slow Writer with ADD

No, I don't use a typewriter anymore.
No, I don’t use a typewriter anymore.

Writers often publish advice about how to write. I’m not going to do that – well, at least not this time. I don’t know what I might do tomorrow, let alone a year or two from now.

Instead, I would like to share with you my own personal habits when writing a short piece, such as a humor essay or a short-short story. I am not about to advise anyone else what to do. You see, I am not what you would call a naturally prolific writer. I write the same way I read – slowly. And oh yes, I have a mild case of Attention Deficit Disorder, in addition to genetically inherited long-term low-grade Depression. This combination makes trying to do anything complicated even more complicated, if you know what I mean. So please don’t use me as a creative writing role model. If you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A Humorist's Favorite Kind of Online Reader
A Humorist’s Favorite Kind of Online Reader

These are my more or less habitual steps when I’m trying to write a short piece. By the way, I love to exaggerate when I write humor. Just saying.

1. Get a good idea

2. Decide the idea is stupid. Try to think of another idea.

3. Go out for a walk or shopping or something and pay attention to everything around me, hoping something interesting will happen and that it will be something I can write about without causing trouble.

4. Surf the Internet for ideas.

5. Give up for now, sit down, put my feet up on an ottoman and close my eyes.

6. A brilliant idea pops into my head.

7. Spend the next hour thinking of ways to make that idea really funny, while watching TV at the same time.

8. The next day, think about it again several times and come up with more funny stuff.

9. Sit down at the computer. Start to write. After a few paragraphs, stop and think up a title. Try a few titles. Find one that would attract ME if I were a reader. Use it.

10. Write some more.

11. Read what I have written. Yuck! It’s awful. So is the title, which I immediately scrap, even though I have saved the piece on my computer under that title. Don’t bother to change the title of the document on the computer.

12. Do some severe cutting, pasting, adding and editing. Take a couple of hours to do this, even though the piece is only about 500 words long. Make up a new, much funnier title.

13. Get tired of doing this. Save my work and set it aside. Play a few online games of Solitaire, Wordament, Mahjong or Jigsaw.

14. The next day, read the piece again. It’s better than it was, but still not the Thurber Prize material I hoped for.

15. Do some more cutting, pasting, adding and editing.

16. Read it again. Decide that’s as good as it’s going to get.

17. Look in the ever growing stash of stock photos on my portable hard drive. Choose one or two that more or less illustrate the masterpiece I have just written, or that at least would be funny additions.

18. Post my masterpiece, with the illustration(s), online. Post links on Facebook, Twitter and every other place I can think of, and hope I get some readers. If anyone likes my work, feel flattered. If it doesn’t get much attention, threaten my computer with a fist, mutter a few words my mother never taught me and eat two double-chocolate muffins.

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9 thoughts on “Secrets of a Slow Writer with ADD”

  1. I’m a big fan of deciding an idea is stupid and only then will I run with it. If something isn’t stupid, I get bored with it and in that sense, I think have a massive dose of ADD too but only for boring writing/people. This soooooo does not include you or the HO posse.

    1. I don’t drink Jack Daniels, but I will eat vanilla frozen yogurt directly out of a large carton, and eat at least half of it in one sitting.

      You can tell I live by myself.

    1. Believe it or not, I have done that, or something similar. I wrote a short piece for a workshop class about trying to write when suffering through writer’s block. When I read it in class, they laughed, so it worked.

  2. I really like the idea of PLAYING games (#13) as a way to remind ourselves we’re playing with words.

    1. Wordament is a super-addictive game for me, even though I always score somewhere in the middle of all the players. I blame pop-up ads for slowing my speed by stalling the actions of my mouse, but I know better. Hehe! 😀

  3. I’ve done enough writing to know that you’re not exaggerating. I think you’ve illuminated the basic process of creative writing with eloquence.

    Brian Eno, the father of ambient music (and founding member of Roxy Music) once said that when he was totally at a dead end, he would go to his desk and take out a pack of index cards on which he had written various instructions, one on each card, such as: Walk around the block twice. Hammer five nails into a board. Turn on some music and sing a song. Stand in the rain.

    According to him it works really well.

    1. Thank you!

      The problem is, once I actually start to write I am not at a dead end. I just get tired of doing something and want to quit. The inspiration hasn’t dried up; I have! LOL! What helps me is if I have a deadline. Then I have to keep at it until it’s finished!


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