How an ADHD writer got un-stuck through play

Do you feel stuck? Are you losing hope that you’ll ever finish your book or other writing project? Well, so did one of my ADHD writer coaching clients, who I’ll call Tina. Yet, this ADHD writer got un-stuck by using joy and playfulness as productivity tools! Do you want to know how?

📚 True story time!!! 📚

Tina's story

When Tina first contacted me, she told me: “I have an 800-page half-finished nonfiction book and I need help finishing it.”

“800 pages,” you might think, “Isn’t that a lot?”

Yes, yes it is. It’s the length of two books combined. And she wasn’t even finished: there was more information she needed to write down!

As you can imagine, Tina was a tad overwhelmed. By which I mean, she hadn’t been able to do much of anything on her book for months. She was stuck and was losing hope. 

Our writer coaching work together

As we got to know each other over the next few sessions, this overwhelm made her want to avoid her book altogether! She started brainstorming about the companion workbook, thought about going back to University… She pretty much came up with a new writing project to focus on every time we met.

And that would be fine, you’re absolutely allowed to change your focus and goals. But the problem is: Tina is absolutely brilliant and so is the book she’s writing. What’s worse: she knows how brilliant it is and is so passionate about the topic that she can’t let it go completely!

The breakthrough

So how did we finally break through this block? By playing!

After working on her schedule, her morning routines and her priorities list for a few weeks, we finally had everything in place that she needed to be successful. She knew what she was going to write, when she was going to write and where. 

Then, during one of our sessions, I suggested that she choose the next piece of her book she wanted to work on, and play with the topic for a week.

Playing with the topic meant things like:

  • listening to podcasts and eBooks about it while she was doing other things,
  • scrolling through Wikipedia,
  • watching YouTube videos,
  • leafing through books and reading a bit here or there..
  • And bringing the topic up in conversation every time she could, so she could get clear on what it was she wanted to say.

That doesn’t sound like hard work, does it? Actually, to her it sounded kind of fun!

I knew that just telling her to finish her already 800-page book wasn’t going to work. (And if you’ve been telling yourself “just finish the thing”, you’ll know this.)

Instead, I lowered the bar for her by suggesting she has FUN! 

The ADHD writer got un-stuck!

When she came back to me the next week, Tina had fantastic news. She’d had a lot of fun playing with the topic of her next book section. She’d had so much fun, in fact, that at one point, while weeding the garden, she’d had a bout of inspiration. So she turned on the recorder feature on her phone and told it exactly what she was thinking she should write. This recording turned out to be so on-point that she used it as a first draft. And after only one hour of editing, this draft was done! 

Over the next few weeks, we kept up the same regimen (ha!) of playful engaging with her topic, and she continued to reap the benefits. One week after another, she hit her writing goals.

And you know what that means, don’t you? This ADHD writer got un-stuck by using joy and playfulness as productivity tools! 

In Conclusion

So there you have it, the moral of my story. 

We ADHD creatives spend so much time believing that if we fail, we just need to labor harder! We hunker down, deny ourselves joy and pleasure, and hope that that will fix things. But it rarely does! 

The one thing that is guaranteed to unlock our creativity, however, is playfulness. Joy. Whoever told you that fun and work are mutually exclusive lied. 

If this ADHD writer got un-stuck, so can you. All you need to do is build a healthier, more joyful relationship with your writing project! 

And if you need some help with that, just know that I’m available whenever you need me. Just schedule a free video call here