ADHD Fantasy Writing Challenge: Part One

Seven days of writing ADHD fiction with ADHD. I’m dizzy.

The profile of a cat sitting on an open laptop, looking straight ahead, seeming concentrated.
Image by the author

A week ago I declared October — ADHD Awareness Month — my Challenge Month: while working — with ADHD — on my ADHD fantasy novel ADventures Heading up and Down, I will post a daily update in my social media profiles about my progress. Being held accountable by you will, theoretically, motivate me to keep up the daily work, despite the difficulties of staying consistent with ADHD.

Here are the posts I published in these first seven days.

Day 1: All or Nothing

A gif of a desk with an open laptop and a lightbox with the words “ADVENTURES HEADING UP AND DOWN” over changing colors.
Image by the author

This morning, like every morning, dawned with doubts. Will this be a nothing-can-stop-me day? A “there’s nothing I can’t do, so let’s just do it” day? Or rather a why-should-I-bother day? I set up daily goals’ lists too presumptuous for a month, so why bother when failure is guaranteed?
Nope… no option in between. An all-or-nothing brain produces all-or-nothing days.

So, now that the day’s ending, how was it? — Mostly like this gif with my book’s title — ADventures Heading up and Down: colorful, animated and turbulent. I planned to carefully look into one or two scenes, and ended up rushing over forty. I imagined a slow, deep edit and found myself sketching tables of half the plot. It’s still helpful, surely, but difficult to judge whether I’ve met my goal. Or how long it might be before I’m finished.

Optimist note for tomorrow: I love colorful. And animated. And turbulent. It’s what my plot looks like, too. I wonder if tomorrow I might finish the second half of the table; deep edit a scene; do something entirely different, or… nothing at all. Will keep you posted!

Day 2: Monster Ideas

Two dogs running and the words “ideas running wild”; two dogs with entangled leashes and the words “may become messy”.
Image by the author

I get lots of ideas. My thoughts have their own way of controlling me, simultaneously flooding my mind, drowning me in it. As they each go about their business, strolling in different paths throughout my overwhelmed mind, they suddenly collide, birthing a new idea!

They are usually born harmless. Tiny ideas full of potential, though way too many for me to implement. Some seem too good to pass up. I start considering them, and before I know it, they turn into monsters.

It’s not their fault. They seem so nice, so I nurture them, feed them, and suddenly, that cute paint box craft idea inflates into a complete rearrangements of the study room. Often, that’s the end of it. Sometimes it’s the beginning of sleepless days or weeks, finishing the project at all costs.

I suspect my novel exhibits a bit of that syndrome. It features more than one main character. Uh… four, to be exact, each with their subplot. It has two worlds, being a cross-world fantasy. Its fantastic world is vast and unique.

All of these elements may grow a little wild sometimes. I suspect that’s how I found out today that the whole party, in a specific scene, did not so much as meet so far. I may have had to listen to “edit in order.” Problem is, my mind doesn’t work in any order known to mankind.

I’m not certain this will be the center of my work tomorrow… anything might happen until then!

Day 3: I’m Writing in the Rain

A waterproof notepad with a smiley drawn on it, and a pencil, both hanging on a shower wall.
Image by the author

Well, the raining shower.
I only write well early in the morning, when the house still sleeps. Later in the day comes homeschooling, after which I’m free to do stuff requiring lesser concentration, like researching or typing my hand-written notes.

Wait, you ask, what century is this again? Well, even before the early morning, comes shower time: that sanctuary of clarity, when I can almost see my mind’s mist clearing, the clouds fading, a new emptiness forming which suddenly allows me to think clearly and undistractedly.

Of course, I also need to remember all the great insights and ideas gained in the shower. This is where the waterproof pad in the image comes in handy: all that’s left is scribble everything down before a blind goes over my mind and covers everything forever.

The result is dozens of little paper notes accumulated on my desk, waiting for me to type them into my novel’s file. What better time than the weekend?

The best part? — re-reading them sparks my imagination again, and forms a fun creative circle.

Day 4: What is ADHD Fantasy, Anyway?

Three kids standing or leaning on tall palm trees. Blue mountains are seen behind them. Text: “What is… ADHD fantasy?”
Image by the author

Somebody asked me: What does ADHD fantasy even mean? I’ve never seen this category on Amazon!

Well… That’s easy. It’s because I made it up. I guess nobody wrote it before me!

It’s not just my fantasy’s main characters who have ADHD. It’s the fantasy world and the plot, too! You can get a tiny glimpse of it in my free story, Distracted Magic.

I thought I’d tell you a little more about it, it being Sunday and all, but then had a better idea: why don’t you tell me what comes to your mind by the words “ADHD fantasy”? What would you expect to read in an ADHD fantasy?

I can’t tell you how happy you’ll make me by sending in your replies, here or privately. So, what is “ADHD fantasy”? Over to you!

Day 5: ADHD Fantasy

Light blue background with floating bubbles. Text: the quote which follows in the text below this image.
Image by the author

So, what is ADHD fantasy? Here’s a tiny hint, from “Distracted Magic” — a short prequel to my novel.

“Just concentrate,” said Ant. “Give it your best effort.”

Kay closed her eyes and covered her ears, just concentrating and giving it her best effort. Bubbles flooded her mind. Whenever a bubble popped, it spilled out a thought which spread all over Kay’s head. The muddle became too much to bear. She envisioned guards at her mind’s gates, preventing any unrelated thoughts from entering. Some of these thoughts argued, and wouldn’t be stopped. They pounded on her mind’s gates, making her head ache.

Day 6: Jackpot! Hyper-focus Day

A girl jumping on a trampoline, arms stretched to her sides, legs folded to one side, smiling gleefully.
Image by the author

If you know anything about ADHD, you probably know it has to do with lack of focus. Right? Wrong.

It has to do with difficulty regulating focus. Have you ever had a full conversation with someone with ADHD, only to realize later they were responding on “auto pilot”, not listening to a word you (or them) said? We don’t mean bad. We were just hyper-focusing: too deeply focused on whatever it is we’re doing for anything to penetrate our mind.

Given a choice, I would work on a single project continuously. No everyday tasks, laundry, eating or going to the toilet. Unfortunately, not only is this not always feasible, it is also not my choice. I can’t control my focus, remember?

Thus, having a hyper-focused day like today is like winning the jackpot. I have gone over and revamped a fair chunk of plotting today, wrote a new Medium post (not yet finished), updated you on the state of my challenge, and the evening is still before me.

Long live hyper-focus! (Sadly, it will probably die by tomorrow. But only until next time!)

Day 7: Shattered Sleep

Background: A sheep walking on green grass. Text: the quote which follows in the text below this image.
Image by the author

Not unexpectedly, yesterday’s hyper-focus became today’s over-tiredness. ADHD and sleep are a bit like water and oil: they don’t mix very well. For instance:

Dozing off here and there into a shattered sleep, Emma tried going over her mind with an imaginary broom, cleaning the clutter out. The broom hit a sheep and evaporated. Sheep! One, counted Emma, but it was gone and none other came.

All that’s left is to dream of sleeping… or read!

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