Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Attention Deficit Creative Disorder and How to Make it Work for You

What is Attention Deficit Creative Disorder?

This is what happens when a writer or writer-analogue has lots and lots of great ideas brewing in their head at once, and their brain wants to develop all of them into Great Stories. This can result in either a lot of Great Stories, given enough time, but more often it results in a lot of Awesome Notes and Awesome Beginnings that never quite pan out into completed stories and just sit on your hard drive, mocking you. It can also mean that when you sit down to work on your current Great Story, your brain is off in the universe of another Great Story, hacking away at that and gumming up the works. This can be maddening, even if you're not on any kind of a deadline.

However, that little over-caffeinated gerbil of inspiration can be made to work for you, given proper planning. For example, I'm currently working on my sci-fi romance novel Heart of Steel, and while the main, chronological storyline might be at Scene 6, my mind has often been at Scene 12, screaming, "I wanna work on this!" Sometimes you can't force your brain to go where you want it to, and trying to do so will only result in frustration and no progress. So what if I have two chapters written that I won't get to for a while? At least I got the ideas down while they were still fresh in my head, and I can always tweak them during my rewrite.

Then there's the benefit to keeping Awesome Notes and Awesome Beginnings around. Right now I have three incomplete stories on my thumb drive, another dozen or so on my hard drive, and three on my Google Drive (yes, yes, I know...). Why? Because when Writer's Block hits me, it typically stays around until it's damn good and ready to go away, and there's no way to hammer my way through. So, instead of beating my head against the imaginary brick wall until I just shut down out of frustration, I just let the Writer's Block sit there and think about what it did, and move to another one of my Awesome Beginnings and hack away at that for a while. Eventually, the block on my original project will slink away in shame and go sulk in a corner somewhere, leaving me free to work on it.

Of course, this strategy won't work out quite the same if you have a project with a deadline, but that's where Awesome Notes come in. Jot down all the ideas you have swirling around in your mind until your head clears, and if you're lucky you might wind up with more potential Awesome Beginnings. The trick to this, of course, is not to mind that not all of them will become Great Stories. Just let go. If any of them want to be developed, they will let you know.

That's how I make ADCD work for me, anyway. What are your strategies?