Asking the Write Questions

Writing has been a great creative outlet for me, but since starting ADD medication, I haven’t felt as driven to do it. Could that possibly be a good thing?
ADHD & Addiction | posted by Bill D.

The feeling that I had to be working on some writing is not driving me anymore. On the one hand, that feels like a loss, but on the other, it is freeing.

— Bill D., blogger

Toward the end of my drinking career, I would find time — or make the time when I needed — to smoke, nip off a bottle of vodka and write in my little spiral notebooks. It was an escape. I wasn’t writing anything readable. The novel I was working on at the time was about an actively alcoholic journalist but I didn’t make the connection between me and my creation until after I got sober. No wonder I couldn’t really connect with my character — he was in denial and so was I. That story went nowhere.

I kept writing after I got sober. I still smoked and it still worked as an escape to stop somewhere on the way to work, smoke a few cigarettes and chip away on a long piece of fiction. I felt like I had to. If I wasn’t working on something, I got restless. I think it served a few needs. One was the escape. I relished the chance to hide out from everyone, physically and mentally, for little periods of time. Another was the creative outlet. I enjoy making connections that don’t seem obvious to everyone and trying to flesh those out through a story. I also had pretty significant fantasies of success that would change my life — kind of like winning the lottery.

Quitting smoking made it harder to find the time to write. I didn’t have the ten or fifteen minute intervals to scratch out an idea or a scene. It was tough to for me to get into the creative mindframe in other ways. I struggled to develop new habits where I could still write but never really found anything that worked.

Then I finally got around to taking medication for my ADD. The meds have a subtle effect on me. What I notice is a calmer mind. It feels easier to make good choices or to do, as they say in twelve-step programs, the next right thing. One thing I’ve noticed is that the feeling that I had to be working on some writing is not driving me anymore. On the one hand, that feels like a loss, but on the other, it is freeing.

I remember talking to someone who had been diagnosed with ADHD but didn’t want to take medication because he was afraid it would inhibit his creativity. I don’t think my creativity is cramped. I do think I’m able to take better stock of the things I’m supposed to be doing, my realistic goals and present-day responsibilities, and be able to make wiser choices. For me, the priority has to go something like this: 1) my recovery including a conscious contact with my Higher Power; 2) my family — my wife and two children; 3) my job; and then 4) my hobbies. When I get those priorities mixed up, it causes problems.

I still enjoy writing and I know that if it is important to me I will be able to find the time and energy to hone my craft when it makes sense and doesn’t infringe on my other responsibilities and privileges. I have two self-published novels available on Amazon. One is called Chad, Inc. and the other is Vintage Justice and they are both under the pen name Will Henry — in case anyone is interested — but it will probably be a little while before I finish any more long fiction.

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