Question: How many people with ADHD does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Let’s go for a bike ride!
No matter how much I want to write my novel, I struggle every day with focus. I am so easily distracted that it is a major effort for me to keep my mind on the chapter I am writing. I start thinking about the next chapter, or about the short story I want to write, or about the fabulous book I just read, or about the pretty cardinal on the tree outside my window, or . . .
In the wise words of my nephew, it shouldn’t be called ADHD. It should be ADOS: Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny!
Now that I have all of this free time, I’ve been doing some research into things like writing software and writing networks or websites. I’ve joined Romance Writers of America, which has provided me with some fabulous online classes and discussion groups to improve my skills. I have my blog here on WordPress and I just started a Twitter account, although I freely admit to being utterly clueless about things like Tweets and hashtags.
All of this technology begs the question: Is it really helping me write my novel, or is it just a whole new bunch of shiny objects?
A few weeks ago, I splurged on a program called WriteWay. It’s sort of a template for organizing one’s thoughts while writing. A writer can set up note cards for characters and chapters or even scene-by-scene diagrams. There are places to plug in research and new ideas and comments. It is incredible.
In theory, anyway.
In reality, I’m starting to realize that it’s just another distraction so far. I have spent so much time setting it up and learning my way around that I haven’t really accomplished anything. Well, that’s not entirely true. It has really helped me in two ways.
It has helped me really define my characters in much more depth. I always thought it was silly to come up with all kinds of background information for my characters if that information wasn’t going to be part of the actual story. Really, is it important to know the Hero’s birth order or favorite song? Does it matter that he’s allergic to peanut butter or that his father abandoned the family when he was only two years old?
I’m exaggerating, of course, but I have learned that it really does help me to know my characters better. If I can’t see them as fully-developed three-dimensional people, how can I make anyone else see them that way?
Now my character Evan has a reason to fight for his grandmother’s house, as well as a very good reason to avoid falling in love with Tara. And poor Tara has become far less pathetic. Her quirkiness now has a cause beyond Let’s-Make-Her-Interesting-For-No-Apparent-Reason-Syndrome. And there is a villain now, although for the life of me I can’t come up with a name for her. She’s a Barbara, no doubt about it, but I have a Barbara in my life who is nothing like this character and who would probably be supremely offended.
The other lesson I have learned from WriteWay is that I am nowhere near as prepared to write this book as I thought I was. I know the beginning and I know how it’s going to end, but everything in the middle is just a big ol’ melodramatic muddle. With a couple of very awkward sex scenes in which I tried really hard to find synonyms for “erection”.
In the long run, I think this is going to be a big help, as soon as I stop being overwhelmed and start buckling down. I’m the kind of person who needs direction, and I am hoping that this will give me that direction. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’m just going to continue meandering helplessly from scene to scene without ever writing the actual story.
I’d like to hear from other writers about WriteWay or other writing software programs. What do you think: distractions or direction? Worth the money, or a useless extravagance?
And what the heck am I supposed to do now that I’m on Twitter?