Oct 102013

While there are many real problems with having ADHD that many non ADDer don’t understand, and I’ve been coaching working adults and entrepreneurs with ADHD on how to manage them more effectively since 2003 over the phone, there are also many competitive advantages of having ADHD too.

This would also include being an writer who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or as I like to call it, Attention Surplus Condition. Whether it’s a published author, a blogger, or a journalist. Or all of the above.

See my post that lists writers who have confirmed they have ADHD who have published non ADHD books. If you know any that are not on that list, please let me know in that post in the comments and I’ll add them.

My Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group volunteers and our partners are organizing 27 activities in Vancouver, BC, Canada for BC ADHD Awareness Week in the Lower Mainland, as part of a total of 77 events in 23 Lower Mainland BC municipalities.

We’re doing ADHD Awareness week book displays in 75 Libraries and bookstores in 23 BC Cities.

We’ve got an amazing response by Librarians. We’ve got 20 of 21 Vancouver public Libraries, All 4 Richmond Libraries, All 9 Surrey Libraries and all 25 Fraser Valley Regional Libraries and Libraries in other BC cities too.

We’ve more than doubled the number of Libraries and bookstores from last year and nearly tripled the number of cities.

Those ADHD Awareness Week book displays will contain these items and possibly others:

  • Books on ADHD
  • Books by authors who have publicly confirmed they have ADHD on non ADHD topics.  Vs. someone who thinks author x has ADHD but has no proof. Or someone who mistakenly confused a famous people with LD – Learning Disabilities, list with a famous persons with ADHD list. Yes 30% of people with ADHD have LD but not all do. I also think some are more likely to go public with LD than ADHD because there is less stigma against LD and more on ADHD. Hence the need for ADHD Awareness week. Help get the word out.

Many people with ADHD have problems in schools. But some people like me who have ADHD, self medicate with information and learning and can do very well in school.

There are also PhD’s with ADHD and a MENSA ADHD special interest group of 600+ people.

ADHD can be a competitive edge as a writer if channeled properly. In the spirit of my Top Ten Advantages of Having ADHD in a High Tech Career post, I thought I’d do a post about the advantage of having ADHD as a writer. That could be a writer of books, a blogger, or a reporter. Or all of the above:)


11 Advantages Of Having ADHD As A Writer


1. ADHD hyperfocus for hours on things WE find interesting.

2. Naturally very high levels of curiosity. No ADDer had to take a course on how to be creative. We have to limit ours to actually complete things.

3. Extreme creativity (intellectual, emotional, artistic, kinesthetic, or mechanical or combination thereof).

4. Great hunters of information. Whether on the Internet, in a library, or calling up individuals and organizations to find out information others can’t find. See Thom Hartmann’s ADHD Hunter Farmer Theory.

5. Frequently scanning our environment for changes. As long as it’s not paperwork, the Kryptonite of ADHD Adults. Especially taxes, even if the government owes us money.  We’re able to notice things others do not, including patterns, because we don’t filter sensory input that well. Can also be a disadvantage too, ie easily lead to overload and overwhelm if we don’t learn to manage our ADHD properly. Here are 10 ways to do so.

6. Willingness to challenge the status quo and conventional wisdom. Sometimes very easily and often:) Many of us ADDErs are not afraid to go in a different direction than the herd.

7. Fast processing minds IF we find the topic interesting. Downside, sometimes listening to slow talkers can be painful, since we often already know where they’re going before they finish, and we want them to get to the point.

8. High energy levels. Sometimes you need to stay up late to get things done. Or put in more extra work to meet that deadline.

9. Ability to multitask with ease. Have 2 or 3 browser open with multiple tabs? And a dozen other applications open? You might have ADHD.

10. Deadlines help us focus and power through to complete things. Some of us ADDErs wait until the last minutes before a deadline and use that stress and occassional panic to crank up our adrenaline levels to get things completed. Adrenaline helps us focus. Ideally don’t do this as your only strategy or you’ll brown out or burnout.

11.  Telling us it can’t be done, or we’ll never be able to do it, actually can be a strong motivator for us. Thank you ODD:) We can be very persistent if we want. I.e., getting 75 libraries and bookstores in 23 BC cities to create ADHD book displays with no paid staff in a short period of time.

Are you a writer who has ADHD? What do you think are some of the other advantages of having ADHD as a writer? What are some of the disadvantages? Tell us in the comment section below this post.


Pete Quily

See my other blog Adult ADD Strengths http://adultaddstrengths.com See also my 180+ page Adult ADHD website ADDCoach4u http://www.addcoach4u.com

  31 Responses to “11 Advantages Of Having ADHD As A Writer”

  1. I’m a poet with ADHD. I hyperfocus on topics that I find interesting.

  2. Thinking out of the box, the need to do creative things in spite of everything and everyone. That is how it is for me when writing or doing anything really. I study medicine and ive had ridiculous difficulty keeping up with routine assignments, but mention an extra assignment or a project, im the first to volunteer. Adding my own flare to anything and the joy I feel because it… i think that is an advantage in its own right!

    • Thanks Vasilina, I think it’s crucial for us ADDers to have some kind of creative outlet, good for everyone, but crucial for us

  3. Fun post! I recognize myself in what you write. I have written a doctoral thesis and published a book along with some articles. I have also been working on a novel on the side. Unfortunately, I am not yet out of the closet with my ADHD so you can’t add me to your list.

    My mind works overtime anyway – making brilliant speeches that only I get to hear or coming up with theories and elegant formulations on all kinds of topics – so I might as well just sit down and get these things on paper. The trick is to sit down in the first place. Once that is taken care of, my mind (especially if supported by my meds) usually does the rest.

    Interestingly, I now realize that even before I was diagnosed I used some of the kinds of strategies that you coaches prescribe for ADDers: I rearranged my environment by writing at cafés where people would see if I played games on my computer instead of writing. And it was a book titled “Writing your dissertation in 15 minutes a day” that helped me trick myself into sitting down and getting started each day (you need more than 15 minutes per day, but thinking that I didn’t made it less painful to get started when I wasn’t in the mood).

    Finally, my creativity and ability to see patterns and put things together in novel ways is definitely an ADHD trait, and it is one of my main strenghts as an author.

    • thats good you’ve found strategies that work for you Paul, hopefully one day you will be able to come out of the adhd closet.

  4. I’ve been looking at various ADHD/ADD websites across the web, medical help websites, government supported blogs, behavior and health articles.Almost all of these cast ADHD in negative light, pushing medication and classroom constrictions, attempting to force the children to listen. It’s refreshing to see an opinion on ADHD, authored by someone that’s lived through it.
    As an Adult that grew up with ADHD, I’ve had to suffer through classrooms where I was constantly forced to remain still, told to focus, as though it were some simple thing which I was choosing not to do. It wasn’t until middle school that I had teachers with the wisdom to allow me to draw in class, to look around. They understood that the Attention Surplus, as you put it, required some mitigation.
    Today I continue with my ADHD as a Security Officer. My superiors rely on my attention to every detail, my ability to multitask, to generate reports quickly and accurately. My ” condition ” has become my greatest tool.
    So thank you, for helping to spread the word of ADHD’s usefulness! Hopefully, someday soon, ADHD wont see the stigma it sees today.

  5. I think the one benefit of ADHD writers is that they are intuitive, sensitive people that can write things that touches other’s heart. out of writing, I think they have a metaphoric “Eyes of God” that can see right through the heart of a problem

  6. I have recently begun to explore this disorder after a therapist I’ve been seeing (for compulsive eating) told me that in her opinion I might have undiagnosed ADHD. I’m an adult in my mid-thirties and a screenwriter. A lot of what I’ve read makes enormous sense. As a child I hyperfocused on reading. I’d happily read for twelve hours a day or more. After sorting out struggles in my twenties with finishing scripts instead of starting them and then getting distracted by newer ideas (sound familiar?) I have learned to hyperfocus on writing. It really works for me – I can do 70hr weeks, the time spent productively. I get a lot of work, work that makes me really happy, and it pays me very well.

    But other comments here about ADHD chime with less positive experiences of mine, too. I can’t have games on my iPhone or I’ll lose five hours to Tetris before I realise the day’s gone. I have to be very mindful about focusing when I’m tired, even using a kitchen timer to help me sustain focus in bursts, or I’ll start browsing the net. And other parts of my life do suffer… my wife finds me scatty and ‘not really there’ when I’m in the grip of a major piece of work. I forget dates and frequently fail to follow through on all sorts of promises relating to domestic or family life, which I then feel bad about (then forget). I’m pretty terrible with book-keeping, and will fail to cash cheques – which mystifies my wife, as it’s wasting money. Thankfully I now employ agents and accountants to do all that for me. I do feel a mental restlessness that even makes parties get boring fast. I pick at food all day long, drifting down to the fridge on auto-pilot, not even hungry. I’m not at all motivated to exercise or to work on ‘dutiful’ long-term goals such as healthy living to avoid cancer/strokes etc. and I just can’t connect to working for long-term benefits if I’m not stimulated by the task in the moment.

    I wouldn’t change my brain for the world. The writing work makes me very happy; it feels like breaking story or fixing other people’s scripts uses the whole of my brain, which feels exhilarating. But I would like to find ways to work around the negatives, for the sake of my physical health (and I’m sure my wife would appreciate fewer broken promises about Things I Will Do Tomorrow).

    As I say, I’m not ADHD diagnosed and this is very new to me, but reading around the subject has felt incredibly familiar.

  7. Live music reviewer here in the musical candy factory of Los Angeles. ADHD hyper focused me to this very page that simply confirms numerous facts with identical accuracy, symptoms, traits, and tendencies that confirm to me and could serve as forensic proof to ANY naysayers or agnostics that ADHD is a proven, undisputable, REAL mental health condition. I am 54 yrs old and only a few years ago did I finally found what seemed like an unsolvable mystery. I’m not an alcoholic ….addict…bipolar….ptsd or any other guessable assumption that I’ve struggled most of my life to understand and try to identify as. Turns out (smack my forehead ) I have ADHD! It’s very obvious and very clear that I have this disorder and have lived my life for 50 yrs completely baffled…..knowing something very serious and chronically dysfunctional was an uncontrollable handicap. It only took one small paragraph that had the word “self medicate” to cause the slot machine jackpot to finally roll 777’s for me to FINALLY and perfectly lead me to the promised land of truth and the answers that I have painfully, at great cost, waited decades to discover. Diagnosis was a tsunami of joy and relief, but it only magnified and amplified the symptoms and made me realize that I have my work cut out for me and there is a very narrow margin for error and I must babysit myself so I don’t run out in the street and get run over or put my hand on a red hot stove that sparked my curiosity driven by impulsivity. Yeah Im a writer and I obviously …..hence this comment, have the paradoxical mental health disorder ADHD.

  8. […] that other people don’t. But have you ever considered that your situation could be seen as an advantage when it comes to […]

  9. I’m an ADHD writer. And one of the benefits is literally writing with the flow instead of outlining things first. Compared to outlining, which can limit the mind to something when you want to add more, writing with the flow can let ADHDers’ mind go along.

    And usually, it doesn’t tend to get disorganized. Maybe a few parts, yeah. But in the end, it will always turn out to be beautiful.

    • thanks LA yes when our minds are flowing on the right track we can get a lot done

  10. How do you deal with the “not now/do it tomorrow” thinking? I know it’s not a problem for everyone with ADHD but I am able to buy a new fancy phone and not use it for 2 years because I can’t find the charger after its first use. Find it? Well, not now..

    It’s painfully same with writing, I have tons of ideas and once I sit to write, I can spend hours on it as long nothing else comes along to distract me. But to get started is almost like to battle someone to make him go to GP when he fears white coats.

    Funny enough, I write most when at work, I guess I use my own writing as a distraction from work.

    • Hi Karel, the “not now/do it tomorrow” thinking is a problem for only about 95% of ADDers:) Essentially in this case you’re lying to yourself when you say not now or I’ll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow never happens. Just say I refuse to do it and I’ll accept the consequences. Or realize you’re lying to yourself and get curious on why you don’t want to do it, realize there are obstacles in the way of you doing it, real or imagined and get calmly curious about what those obstacles are and start thinking of ways to overcome those obstacles.

      Maybe write in a coffee shop or other place than home where there are fewer distractions. Or stay late at work and write there.

  11. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I was a young boy living in the Midwest. Ever since I was younger, music has been my source of creating elaborate stories and adventures in my head. Sometimes the main character is me, sometimes it’s a fictional man or woman heroine…sometimes it’s the villain as the main character. I have entire universes and worlds within my head that I crave–no–YEARN to write down for the rest of the world to see…the problem is, my ADHD always rears it’s ugly head and I find myself watching TV, reading a book (ironically enough), or playing games. I chastise myself for it later but whenever I sit down to write, I find my brain racing, wanting to do other things or thinking about other things that I need to do.

    I have all these stories racing through my head every second of every day begging to be written. I’ve even gone as far as buying a typewriter which helps to a great extent but I have to create the storyboard first on the computer. Creating it on the computer opens a whole can of worms. With Netflix, video games, and other distractions on the computer…I always wind up becoming diverted towards other things…out of desperation, I Google Novelists with ADHD and came upon this page. While many of the bullet points above I agree with, I find that I’m unable to lock into writing the book and instead do other things.

    I know that if I could just get it under control I’d create some of the best fiction ever to grace the bookshelves…I just wish I could learn to reel in my ADHD and sit down and focus for an hour or two a day to create my stories…

    • Try going to a coffee shop with no wifi and no phone and just open the word or text edit and nothing else work for 20 minutes & stop take a break. Or go there with just pad of paper and a pen. set a time limit. boundaries increase completions.

    • Try getting one of these and see if it helps, it looks really good, I quite fancy one myself.


  12. Coming across this page has made me come up with a few decisions. One of them being to cancel my bachelor of laws degree which I want to start while I haven’t finished my BA in Politics and History with only two modules to go.
    I have spent almost almost all my working life being in jobs or companies where I feel I don’t belong. As an IT consumables salesperson I dissapoint my customers all the time because I forget to process their orders and never do follow-ups on back ordered items. I haven’t been formally diagnosed but I have all the ADHD / ADD symptoms. At 40 I still don’t know what career path to follow, but I’m certain about wanting to be a writer, hence I googled this page.

  13. Hi, I am just another author witth ADHD. I completely agree with these eleven principles.
    My fantasy leads me to constantly write. Throughout my life I gained lots of information regarding so many topics. When I write, I frequently need to find something – so I do. Thus I am permanently studying the world I am living in, My fantasy gave birth to a world of three elements which is a series of books similar to Tolkien’s Lord of the rings in size, and some more books – short tales, novels, crime stories… Just now I am writing an article regarding the thinking common for ADHD people but rare for those without ADHD – a kind of picture processing mind instead of verbally oriented one. Memories are photos, thinking means combining the pictures, then the imagination comes into and inspiration – and another movie runs in my fantasy and I just have to write it down…
    Moreover I translated two pretty informative books regarding ADHD topic into slovak language. They were written by an author, who – trying to help his child – found out it was ADHD and also that he himself was ADHD. It gave me lots of impulses to think about – about myself, my mistakes and troubles but my abilities and talents as well. Pity that ADHD is nearly always just a disease (which is not) but no word about positive side, about gifts…

    • Thanks Paul, sounds you’re quite the prolific guy, whats your full name and website?

 Leave a Reply