Attention Span of a Gnat

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Chester is doing well. I know you all are probably just dying to see a picture of him again ๐Ÿ˜‰ I took this one just a few minutes ago. He is not really loving this heat because he can’t sit in front of an open, screened window and hear the birds and bugs chirping. I love this boy ๐Ÿ™‚

Ever since I was a kid, I mean probably since I was in 5th or 6th grade, I have wanted to be an author. I’ve wanted to write and publish books. Over the years, I have tried and tried and tried, but can NEVER finish a novel. I have tons of unfinished novels on my computer an on various USB drives. ย I even have some handwritten ones from my years in middle and high school.

My problem is my attention span. I get really into something for awhile and then drop it like that. I am terrible at finishing projects. You should see how many crochet projects I have left unfinished. I’m honestly impressed that I’ve ever crocheted anything in its entirety ๐Ÿ™‚

Something you probably don’t know is that K has 2 degrees in special education and is working on his PhD in the same field. ย He suggested that I might have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and I tend to agree. I don’t want to slap another label on myself, but it makes sense when I think of some of the issues I have. Also, ADD & OCD tend to be co-morbid disorders, so it’s very possible that I do have ADD.

Anyway, I think this explains somewhat my difficulty in finishing projects. I’m getting to the point where I think I will never get the drive to finish a novel.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can finish projects or even how to get on the road to writing and publishing a novel?

I’d love to hear what you have to say!
Best,

Megan

PS Donโ€™t forget to visit my friend Dianaโ€™s site! ย She has some awesome Giveaways running now as well. You can visit her blog byย clicking here, or check her out onย Pinterest,ย Instagram,andย Bloglovin!

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38 thoughts on “Attention Span of a Gnat

  1. I have the very same problem (on finishing novels, not crocheting (I should not put the word “crocheting” together with “me”))! There are some tips I get to prevent losing the drive of writing novel. The first one is to make an outline while the idea is still brewing hot. The outline can be a bigger picture then you make them more specific into every chapters. You also need to decide about the ending from the start of writing so you won’t lose your goal in the middle of it. The second one is to write after you wake up in the morning. Your state of mind is still very neutral after sleeping, this is the ideal state to write. The last is to read more. For me, it’s really hard to get consistent with the same schedule every day (I get very borrrrrred) so I adjust it according to my mood, which usually not the best way for writing. (ยด-๏น-`๏ผ›) well, I hope these tips will help you… ใƒพ(๏ฝก>๏น<๏ฝก)๏พ‰๏พžโœง*ใ€‚

  2. I’d get an official diagnosis before anything else. Also, it can take YEARS to complete a novel. Anyone that churns one out in a few months is definitely the kind of person that is tormenting an editor, and since that is precisely what someone did to me, I say outline first and then write. If it doesn’t happen, it’s okay. Sometimes space provides the best work.

      1. Welcome to the club, my dear! I haven’t had patience in so long, that the only time you will see me be patient is when dealing with animals, small children, and the elderly.

        You probably just need to ground yourself and give yourself additional “me time” each day to help calm down. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t.

      2. I’m not close with the majority of the people I am related to, so patience went out the window for them a long time ago. I’m not a doormat.

        I know, but I think you’ve made great strides in the past two years. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Smudge sends condolences to Chester. He doesn’t like having the back door and windows closed, either. Even though it’s for his own good! Alas, I have no suggestions about how to finish your novels or your knitting! You do, however, manage to finish a lot of posts and keep us happy with pictures of Chester. He’s a Very Handsome Leading Man in your life–and fortunate to have you as his Manager and Photographer.
    Cheers, Megan!
    Elouise

  4. I wouldn’t label it add. I have the same problem but I don’t have ADD. It gets tossed around way too much and seems to be an “excuse” for everything these days

    1. My issues with attention would be just one of many symptoms I’ve had my entire life. My brother is the same way and so is my mother. I’m not using it as an excuse when I legitimately struggle with things in my daily life.

  5. Geez, I wish I could help, but I have a similar issue! I become obsessed with something I like and then the light just kind of burns out. haha! I just like to think of myself as passionate, though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. it could also be that you’re a writer. i can never finish a novel but i always get ton of new ideas and want to start stories and never get very far. Or I have this thing where I think of the beginning, the end and the sequel to a story but never anything in between. I also like to write in order to I just make myself get stuck when I can’t produce the content chapters I want. You could have ADD and a doctor knows more about that than I do but artists and writers are prone to never being able to complete things either! It’s a curse really. p.s. i want to squish chester up so bad!

  7. I used to have OCD and, probably ADD to a point. I could finish things, but had gotten subliminal messages from family that it’s okay to not finish things (long story).
    Anyway, after my stroke the OCD is pretty much gone, but the stroke affected my fatigue levels, my sleep, and my attention span. I forget things and cannot focus nearly as well.
    I am a writer; I have published…but only short stories. They don’t take as much concentration. A few hours (even with breaks) and you are done. A book…that is different. I have a current book going, but I can’t seem to keep up with it at all…I haven’t touched it in weeks. And, I forget I even have it.
    As for you, all I can say is that if you take a project and break it up into sub-projects, you can, usually, finish a sub-project, then the concentration can restart on the next part. It has helped me.
    Scott

  8. I do have adult ADD (did not have as a child) and struggled to retain focus from moment to moment – not just on things I should do, but on things I’m really interested in and want to do. people joke about it, but I really am like “hey how’s it goin-OH SHINY!” when I’m not actually working at focusing. this is not something I always had to do, which is why I noticed a change in my late teenage years and especially into my early twenties. this became a problem at work and at home as I would start a project/assignment and then start and another and another and another until I had tons of things open and unfinished and had gotten nowhere. it seems like, well, just stop doing that. but I hadn’t been able to fully do that on my own. I began medication a few years ago and it has helped immensely. unfortunately, loads of people abuse ADD/ADHD medications like the one I’m prescribed and it’s making it very difficult to afford and obtain. it’s also created a stigma around the medication and those who take it (need vs. abuse), since I feel like more people abuse it than really need it, especially as an adult. as an example, a friend of mine was prescribed the same medication in college and she said she loved how racy and focused it made her so she could pull all-nighters and lose weight (she’s since quit taking it). THAT was abuse. in contrast, when I take this medication, I feel nothing. there are no side effects other than lack of wanting to drink water; I simply feel like myself without the problem of focusing being such an effort. it corrects me back to how I was for most of my life. when I was trying to determine if medication was the right course of action, I had a long discussion with my college councilor after a few years of wondering what has happening to me. she ultimately suggested that I see a doctor to confirm her suspicions. my family doctor, whom I’d had all of my life agreed with her assessment and tried me on several medications (low doses) to see if it would help. in the end, we settled on one that worked perfectly. thusly, I would suggest taking your concerns to your physician next time you’re in for a check-up (or sooner). together, you can decide whether treatment is needed and what types might work best for you. but aside from medication, I also employ several habits and techniques that help keep me on track. one of them is an app for iPhone/Android called Trello. I like this because you can make various lists with items that can be moved around. I build the lists at trello.com and then can manage it on my phone. I made a board called “Schedule” and inside of it are 9 lists. one for each day of the week, one general to-do list (with things like “clean winter boots” – things that need to eventually be done), and a list called DONE. I make a plan for the entire week and move items to the DONE list so I can track my progress. this really helps me to refocus, especially between tasks. or if I go to start a new task – I can see that the previous few aren’t complete. and at the end of the day, I feel accomplished when I empty out the DONE list. best of all, this is a free service. additionally, it allows me to share lists (bridesmaid stuff with a friend and groceries with my bf). you may just find that physical lists are enough for you. I also like to set periodic goals for projects, which I manage through a special calendar I created in google calendars. like have X% completed by XX/XX/XXXX and when I reach that date, I have a calendar reminder on my phone. I created specific calendars for projects so that I can color code them and keep them separate. this was kind of fun to set up and organize, which helped to keep me interested. it’s also free. when I reach a date that I’m reminded to have something done by and haven’t done it by then, I try to assess what the issue was and address how it can be overcome in the next percentage of the project. sometimes I will then assign myself a reward if I’m able to overcome it by the next date. something like a new lipstick or something little I’ve had my eye on usually motivates me when I’m uninterested. sorry for the novel here! I really hope you’re able to get going on a novel. I think a lot of authors probably have unfinished works that they return to in their later years. you’re already kind of doing it with your blog and that you come back to again and again! maybe your next novel will be the one you complete and after you’re famous in the years to come, you’ll come back to finish some of these others. good luck!

    1. Thanks for the wonderful reply Mary. You’ve offered some good tips here. I have been seriously considering seeing my primary care doctor because of my concerns with potentially having ADD or ADHD, which I’m leaning more toward because I find that I sometimes have uncontrollable restlessness and many of the other symptoms of ADHD. I too didn’t feel that I had these symptoms until later in life and that’s extremely frustrating to me because it makes me think I’ll never again enjoy the things I used to do when I was younger, simply because I don’t have the patience, attention, or excitement about any of it as I used to. I’ve noticed at work that I can VERY easily get distracted. An idea will pop in my head and it instantly becomes more important than anything ever and I have to research or look into it for hours, and hyper focusing like that makes me lose track of time at work. It’s not good at all! I’ve definitely noticed it with repetitive tasks. As soon as I’m bored and lose interest in something, I move on instantly to the next thing and forget about what I was working on. It’s so, so frustrating and not something I can control much at the moment without actively thinking about my every moment. My brother as he gets older is noticing much of the same things. My mom has these symptoms too. One thing that I do to get that “rush” again to internet shop. I will end up spending way more than is necessary and then end up regretting it when it comes to my door. I’m not sure if I should be on medication and I hate to add yet another medication to my repertoire, but if my doctor recommends it, then I may have to give it a try.

      1. I understand your frustration. my grandma had the same issues as me, so I’m inclined to think that there are real genetic roots to this, as with most things. well, there may be routines and habits you can incorporate into your daily life that will eliminate the need for medication. for me, it was a balance of both, but that could just be me. but I would be sure to mention the shopping bit. yeah, it’s easy to get carried away online (I think everyone has moments like that), but you should mention this during your discussion with your doctor. I say this because one of the meds I tried had a possible side effect of mania. and one of the things that can happen during a manic episode is over-spending (as well as other spontaneous actions without regard for consequences) and so I think it would be worth bringing up during the discussion. I never experienced an issue with that, but everyone is different. I think it’s worth mentioning. on that note, I like to sign into a shopping site (like sephora, for example) and let items sit in my cart for awhile. maybe it takes me two-three days to build a cart I will finally check out with. like if I’m at work, I never make a purchase while I’m there. but I might put things into the cart on a break. the sephora cart saves for you when you come back to it, if you’re signed in. or I will put items on a saved list/heart list etc. on various sites of the cart won’t save. for sites I cannot save items to, I will pin them to a board on Pinterest for items I want to buy (I have one for things and clothes and one for beauty products too). this delay in the process allows me to think more about which items I should really buy at the time and how much money I’m spending. the long-term saving of items on Pinterest REALLY helped when I had to quit my job and relocate, since I have basically no extra money to spend. and it helped me make sure I wanted the items I was buying instead of just buying for the sake of buying. I’m not sure if this would help you, but I know it helped me. it’s at least something free to try.

  9. DON’T FEEL BAD….I had to largely rewrite my book on my therapy and other experiences…! Then got discouraged about potential sales. So most of the bits and pieces are sitting at THE MARVELOUS MUMFORD….waiting for me to do SOMETHING with them! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I have ADD and OCD, but find that once I knuckle down and start writing, I’m able to hyper-focus (one time when this is a useful trait!). I’d written short pieces for years–comedy sketches, short plays, songs, short essays–but found once I started writing long-form (screenplays, novels), I loved returning to the same world day after day! Still, getting started each day is always a challenge.

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