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being an author with adhd

4th january 2022

I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 45, during a pandemic and at the start of my transition into menopause. You could say everything peeled away and left the extent of my neurodiversity without anywhere to hide. Getting a diagnosis was life-changing, and I finally made sense after 45 years of feeling like a square peg in a round hole. But it also helped me (or my husband) realise that the only time my brain truly behaved itself was when I was writing.


Fast forward a couple of years, and here I am with my first little book published, another being edited before being dispatched to publishers for consideration and a third, which is in progress and should be ready to publish in April. I could never have imagined this would be possible two years ago. I could never have believed my brain was capable of committing so much to one task - and writing a 100k novel is quite a task!


As it turned out, writing is the one thing I am genuinely able to do without being nagged or bribed. It's the one thing I can do that makes time stand still, makes hours feel like minutes, and leaves me feeling invigorated and alive when I'm done. It's a joy and one I would not have discovered unless I understood my brain and had a husband who was on the hunt for ways to help me shine in my new ADHD identity.


But there is a downside. When someone has ADHD and finds something they adore, it is VERY hard to get them to focus on anything apart from that thing they adore. It's called hyperfocus, and it can be a genuine blessing when you have 30,000 words to write and only a couple of weeks to do it. But it can also be a curse when you have a life to live, obligations to meet, appointments and meetings to attend, and your brain wants you to write!


My husband has the patience of a saint - he cooks and cleans and gives me as much time as possible to write, but even he reaches his limit when he's spent an hour cooking a meal, and I leave it until the very last second to rush down and eat it. Adding insult to injury, I then bore him to sobs with my endless chatter about what I've written and then as soon as everything is cleared away, I disappear back to my writing again (thank heaven for Sky Sports!).


I also have a full-time job. And the temptation to 'just write a few words is so strong it can be very distracting. I am pretty good, though, and the most I've done is finish 15 minutes earlier to cram in a bit of extra time at the keyboard or made a few notes on plot ideas in a particularly unstimulating zoom call. My discipline is pretty good in reality, but the mental chatter that nags away and tries to persuade me to write is constant.


I lie awake at night having conversations between my characters, developing new plot twists and turns into the early hours. I also have a notebook that I carry around and a ton of notes on my phone! There are ideas everywhere, it seems!


Social media is a big challenge. Having a presence requires consistency, and frankly, I don't have any! I go through bursts of enthusiasm for it but overall, it leaves me cold, and I get frustrated that I post and nothing happens. So I stop. See - no consistency! 


So there you have it. Life as an ADHD author. It's not pretty, it's not easy, and it's not always much fun. But nothing will stop me from writing. It is the greatest joy of my life, and I am only sad that it's taken me 46 years to figure that out.