While ADDers are well-endowed in the creativity department, many of us find it difficult to bring our multitude of ideas to life. For this post, I have had the wonderful opportunity to pick the brains of Bryan Hutchinson – one of the most productively creative and inspiring ADDers I know. Let’s get to it – enjoy!
Andrea: Bryan, you have published eight books, including the best-selling “Writer’s Doubt”, created two hugely successful blogs, and authored featured articles for national magazines and newspapers. Most ADDers I know struggle with finishing stuff. Yet when it comes to productive creativity, you’re kind of a machine. What’s your secret and where can we buy it?
Bryan: Ha! You’re very kind, Andrea. My secret is actually quite simple, I stopped trying to conform to linear ways of doing things.
Most people with ADHD fight with themselves all of their lives, trying to do things in standards ways in which they have been taught. I remember in school, already at a very young age, I did things in non-standard ways and I would always get in trouble for it. Sometimes I needed to walk or fidget in order to think. I always got in trouble for that and the teachers thought I was lazy and I didn’t care, and frankly, so did my parents.
As an adult I can work on my own personal projects in any way I please – and I do. And because I do, I have become extremely prolific. But that happened in my 30’s. The problem with most of us with ADHD is that because of how we’re taught to behave in school, we think there is something wrong with us and most do not ever become comfortable doing things their own ways.
Andrea: I’ve noticed that too. In the opening of your book “10 Things I Hate About ADD”, you describe ADD as a gift that comes with some side effects (darn that falling pipe!). This philosophy is what has always drawn me to your writing. What is your reaction to the naysayers – who claim that ADHD is exclusively a disorder whose “gifts” are merely incidental – and how should we punish them?
Bryan: The problem here is actually very simple. Linear thinkers see non-linear thinking as defective thinking. This is normal. It’s like the writing advice that says we should write every day and we should write a specific number of words. That’s absolutely linear thinking. I write when I feel compelled to write, and when I think of writing a specific number of words for a day, well, that makes me want to throw up. I write however many words I’m compelled to write. Period. When I decided to embrace my quirks (which writing, when compelled, is seen as), I felt less guilty and I excelled. No one holds us back more than we do.
Andrea: Sadly, you’re right. Often we are our own biggest enemies – whether that relates to our ADHD or to our creativity. This is not necessarily a chicken-or-egg question… but how do your ADHD traits influence your creativity and, conversely, how has creativity influenced your ADHD? (If chickens or eggs are involved, that’s fine.)
Bryan: My ADHD traits are my creativity, so this question doesn’t make sense to me anymore. And frankly, I’m okay with that. As an adult who has become successful at doing things his way, it’s hard to see my ADHD traits as defects anymore. We’re taught we are defective as children because we don’t settle and do things appropriately, but I was pretty unhappy and unproductive trying to conform.
Andrea: Speaking of doing things your own way, I’m curious about your writing process. When I’m writing a blog post, one idea leads to another and another and another. Before I’ve written one full post, I usually have at least five other beginnings to other posts. I don’t watch you write because that would be creepy and impossible, but I imagine you probably have “too many” ideas too. How do you keep focused on what you’re working on, but still keep track of all the other thoughts that come into your head?
Bryan: I don’t have a perfect method for this. I’m not sure I even have an answer. I used to try to keep track, but it’s too difficult. This is one of those things where I accept what I remember and try not to regret what I forgot, but a notebook doesn’t hurt (when I remember to use it).
Andrea: I love how at ease you seem with your ADHD, and with your own creative process. Whether you’re writing about ADHD or the art of writing, positivity is a theme that runs through your work. What inspires your positivity and how do you maintain it!?
Bryan: Hmmmm… I think this is because I’ve been pushed down so much in my life and the more negative I felt, the more negative consequences I had, whether anyone was pushing me down or I was doing it to myself. At some point, I realized that positivity really does work. I know, there are a lot of naysayers out there who say positive thinking is a waste of time, well, their path takes them in one direction and mine takes me in another. Which one is right or wrong? I don’t know, but I do know I am quite productive being positive.
Andrea: I have to agree with that one. Negativity has never made me, or anyone I know, better at anything – apart from complaining. Because you have mastered what it takes to be a Positive Writer, I wonder what one piece of advice you would give to other ADDers who aspire to become writers? (Yes, this question is largely self-serving!)
Bryan: Be a writer. It’s that simple. No one needs my permission or anyone else’s permission to be a writer. If you write, you’re a writer. So be one. Keep writing until you get to “The End.” However, with that said, it doesn’t hurt to be inspired, and in all honesty, the best writing is inspired writing. So, find ways to become inspired. Whatever makes you happy. Take a trip. Explore a new store or mall. Watch a movie you love. Do something out of the ordinary. Meditate. Or, read my new book. 🙂
I must say, Bryan Hutchinson has always been a source of inspiration for me – for both his message and his creative output. Whether you are trying to get ahead in your own creative career, or just need a lift when ADHD is getting you down, check out Bryan’s books here. And make sure to check out his latest book:
Inspired Writer: How to Create Magic with Your Words (Sold nearly 10,000 copies in the first 3 days!!!)
My biggest, gushiest heartfelt thanks to Bryan. As prolifically productive of a writing-machine that he is, he still took time out to participate in this interview with me. I have to say guys – we’re lucky to have him as part of our tribe 🙂