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Making Goals as an ADHD Writer: Make a Goal You Can Actually Hit

Making goals is a great thing. It gives us a

ADHD Tip to make a realistic goal

target to shoot for and helps us stop

wasting time on things that don't push us toward that goal. Making goals as an ADHD writer, though, can be a bit more difficult.


One of the great things about ADHD is

enthusiasm. We get an idea in our heads,

and then we are over the moon about

implementing it.


The problem, though, is that we tend to struggle with accurately estimating how long something will take. Multiple studies have shown this to be the case*. This difference in our perception of time is often called "time blindness."


If you have ADHD like me, then you probably can think of several times when you thought you had enough time to be somewhere, but you somehow ended up either scrambling (and speeding) or

arriving late.


But how does this relate to ADHD writers? The concept of time blindness applies to not only short-term experiences but also long-term planning. And when you're writing something as long as a novel, planning out when you'll work on it is essential to completing it in a timely (see what I did there?) fashion.


So, what can we do to overcome this hurdle?

  1. Add in buffer time. And I mean a lot of buffer time. Not just a day or two for sickness. You should also consider vacations, extracurricular activities, weekends, and general fatigue.

  2. Set your productivity bar lower than you think it needs to be. You may think you can write 800 words per day, but is that what you write on a great day or a you're-not-very-motivated-but-you're-sticking-it-out day? Instead of planning for your best writing day, look at how much you write on average and use that number when creating your plan.

  3. Stop comparing yourself to others. Other people have different situations than yours, so it isn't fair to expect yourself to have the same level of output as they do. They may write for a living, not have kids, have fewer responsibilities, live in a quieter neighborhood, or not have ADHD. In order to realistically plan how long it will take you to complete a writing project, you need to focus on what works for you, not on what other people can do.

  4. Stop comparing yourself to your past self. Perhaps you've been doing this a long time, and you used to be more productive than you are now. Before you beat yourself up about that or expect yourself to be as productive as you were then, honestly examine your current situation. Is your health the same as it was then? Do you have the same number of responsibilities? Do you have the same amount of time available to devote to writing? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then I'm giving you permission to stop putting so much pressure on yourself to have the same level of output you used to have. We don't exist in a vacuum. Outside life affects our creativity, energy levels, and time available. Take that into consideration when making a writing plan.

  5. Talk to a close friend/relative about it. This tip is a bit of a bonus, especially since some of us don't have the ability to do this. But if you have someone in your life who is good at making realistic plans and knows you well (mine is my autistic husband), get their insight. They may say you should add an extra month more than what you think you'll need. If you finish up and don't need that time, you can relax for that month instead of panicking when you see your deadline approaching.

And remember, implementing these changes into your writing routine may be difficult at first, but the payoff of less stress and more satisfaction is definitely worth it.


* For more information about studies on ADHDers' perception of time, visit these links: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8293837/


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