Body doubling for ADHD writers: hack your brain through accountability

If you’re an ADHD writer, I don’t have to tell you about the ADHD writer’s greatest challenges. We struggle with motivation; we’re often deeply unhappy about our productivity; and we don’t have a strong grasp on time, making it hard to actually sit down and get yourself to do the thing. And it is really hard to find accountability for writers. But there’s actually one tool that can help with all of that. One of the greatest tools in existence, I think, is body doubling for ADHD writers. 

But you might not have heard of the body doubling technique, even though you’ve probably experienced the benefits throughout your life. So let’s dive in: let me tell you all about body doubling for ADHD writers and the wonders it can do for your productivity and motivation.

What is body doubling for ADHD writers?

At this point you might be wondering: what is the body doubling technique, and why have I never heard of it? Well, the term itself is quite new. But in essence, body doubling is nothing more or less than doing something with someone else present. Any time you’ve noticed that you work better in the library, office, or a coffee shop; any time you finally do those household chores because someone else is doing them with you; and any time you ask your friend to run errands with you, you’re engaging in body doubling. 

Viewing it as a technique to get things done, however, is quite new. It was first used as a CBT strategy to help people with anxiety but it wasn’t long until the ADHD crowd experienced benefits of productivity and motivation. And thus, my beloved body doubling for ADHD was born! 

Does body doubling for ADHD writers work?

So does body doubling for ADHD writers work?

In short: YES! 

Then again, I have ADHD myself, which means I’ll never be satisfied with the short version. So let me give you the longer answer. 

It’s no wonder that a productivity strategy for anxiety has found its way into the ADHD communities. After all, many ADHDers struggle with anxiety too. What’s more, many barriers to writing for ADHD writers are actually anxiety related. But the benefits of body doubling go beyond that. It gives us exactly what we need to be productive. 

Dopamine

Though scientists are still a little bit vague on the specifics, it is commonly accepted that ADHD is caused by a problem with dopamine. This is the chemical in your brain that is released when you achieve something, but also the chemical you need to motivate yourself to get started on a task, or, more specifically, when you anticipate finishing a task. 

Whether we are lacking dopamine or don’t process it efficiently, social interaction increases the amount of dopamine in our brains. That means that simply the presence of another body can give us the motivation we need to get to work. Now, the interesting part of this is that it seems like dopamine is released when you engage in social interactions. By making yourself work by yourself, but alongside others, then, you are triggering the exact thing you need to focus, and to alleviate your ADHD symptoms. You can increase your motivation, and therefore your productivity!

Shared motivation and pressure

So that’s the science. But what does body doubling actually feel like? Well, there is something incredibly motivating about seeing another person be motivated. Motivation can be contagious, which is exactly what makes body doubling for ADHD so effective! If there’s only one person who is being productive, everyone around them is very likely to also feel more motivated to stay focused and get things done. 

What’s more, there’s a bit of social pressure. Do you really want to be the only person who is not achieving their goals or staying seated? Even if your body doubling partners will not judge for it, just the idea that people will know can make it easier for you to keep working on what you want to be working on during your body doubling session. And that, of course, increases your motivation and productivity!

It’s precisely this lack of judgement, however, that is important when you have ADHD, as I have seen time and again in my body doubling Writers’ Rooms for ADHD writers. I’ll tell you more about that in a bit. But first, let’s discuss one more benefit of body doubling for ADHD writers: accountability. 

Accountability for writers

Accountability for writers is a major part of what I offer as an ADHD writing coach. Any ADHDer who has accomplished anything in life, has probably done so because of external deadlines and pressure. After all, we are great at starting brand new things, but are notoriously bad at follow-through. Only if we have a boss or an effective accountability partner can it become easier for us to increase our motivation and productivity. That is what accountability can do for writers. But how does that relate to body doubling? 

Well, if your body doubling sessions are set up for the ultimate ADHD success, they will include a goal setting component. If you know that in an hour someone will ask you if you have achieved what you said you would, that type of accountability for writers will make it easier for you to stay motivated and focused and push through just a little while longer, until the next (artificial) deadline. 

Body doubling for ADHD writers – success stories

I started hosting my first Writers’ Rooms in November 2023. I had realized that though my ADHD writer coaching clients often leave our meetings super motivated, but the longer away they are from our meeting, the more that motivation wanes. Though meeting with me can provide accountability for writers, I knew there had to be more I could do for my beloved ADHD writer coaching clients. That is why I decided to make Tuesdays, which I usually reserved for my editing and ghostwriting work anyway, into a body doubling day. I would do the same things I had been doing, but this time in a Google Meet, with my camera on. I also started inviting past and current clients to come join me every Tuesday to share in the added dopamine and accountability for writers. And for many people, it worked wonders for their productivity! They even started bringing their friends!

What people in the Writers’ Rooms have accomplished through body doubling

Over the past months of organizing the Writers’ Rooms, I’ve seen ADHD writers achieve different kinds of success. 

Some of them used this dedicated day to finally make time for their personal writing projects, rather than their professional ones. Others used the accountability for writers to finish the last coursework for their degrees. Someone shows up every week to work on the marketing of his nonfiction book. And someone else used this time to write and revise a solo comedy show, which he has since performed at a sold-out theatre! 

Let’s put it in their own words

And many actually attribute these successes to body doubling and its affects on accountability for writers. This is what my client Ashley had to say: 

Susanne’s Writers’ Rooms are incredible. I love seeing other writers who are amazing but who also struggle a bit. It’s super relatable and so inspiring to see everyone get through their struggles together. I’ve never been more productive!

Part of this, of course, has to do with the amazing group of writers who keep showing up every week. But Ashley’s success also comes in large part from the practice of body doubling itself! 

How can you start body doubling?

If you want to start experimenting with body doubling for ADHD writers, it couldn’t be simpler. Simply find someone you know who also wants to get things done on their computer, make an appointment, and make sure to show up for it! For bonus points, set goals at the start of the session and ask about each other’s progress after every (half) hour. 

If you can’t find anyone who’s available when you are, it also helps to know there are body doubling sites online where you can sign up for sessions. Examples of these are Deepwrk, Bodydoubling.com, and Flow club

All of these body doubling platforms do cost money, but were designed to have someone you can body double with at almost any time of day. Unlimited accountability for writers!

Writers’ Rooms

And then, of course, there are my own Writers’ Rooms. I believe that having ADHD costs enough as-is, and money should never be a barrier for you to get the support you need.  That is why I only charge a “pay what you can” fee. 

If you want to receive an invitation in your mailbox every time I host a Writers’ Room, just fill out the form below and you’re all set! 

Final points on body doubling

As I said before, one of my favorite productivity techniques is body doubling for ADHD writers. And this is not just some trendy productivity hack! Body doubling sessions can provide accountability, increase your dopamine levels to increase motivation, and give you an extra excuse to push yourself a little bit more. You’ll want to increase your productivity, knowing someone will check in with you on your goals. It’s the secret weapon we’ve been missing in the war we’ve been fighting against procrastination, distractions, and that nagging feeling of “why can’t I just get this done?”

I suggest you give body doubling a try. Find your tribe, whether that’s in meeting up with a friend, working in coffee shops, or joining one of the online communities. 

And if you really want to do it right, and join a small but warm community of other ADHD writers who are working towards their goals: just fill out the form below! I’ll make sure to invite you the next time I host a Writers’ Room. 

Receive an invitation for the next Writers’ Room