Friday, July 19, 2013

Road blocks or self-inflicted detours: Part two

Map in hand, I climbed into the driver's seat but never made it to the road that led to my destination. Stops, none of which were life threatening if left undone, detoured me. Next, Joe called. Thanks to him I had to postpone the trip. After all, it isn't every day that a good friend drops into town. How can you  refuse a beer or two with the old gang?

Road blocks to my writing have nothing to do with how, where, what, or when.

The best made plans are useless without action. Writing a novel demands writing or it will remain in your head or dated computer file.

Novels require writing
Two practices that moved me into writing mode:
  • Writing daily
  • Setting a word count 
Writing daily sets a positive habit. It becomes a ritual. It's as important to me as the morning cup of coffee.   

Set word count goals rather than time goals. (Sitting at the writing desk for four hours may produce nothing more than a numb butt.) Establish the minimum number of words that must be written before stopping the session. Give yourself permission to exceed the goal, and don't be shy about increasing the goal.

Distraction and urge to move
I have ADHD. How do I stay glued to the writing chair? Stand, sit, stretch. All of these can be done within four or five seconds. Sitting for long periods isn't healthy. Movement is good. Alternate standing and sitting while writing.

Distractions: That's the biggest one for me. I am compelled to check out noises, even familiar sounds. I hear the sound of the refrigerator door being opened and the race is on between Annie the labradoodle and me. 

Headsets and your music of choice. Music keeps me on task and drowns noise distractions.

Parting words: Sign off the internet. Close it up. No social networking, no research, no surfing, and no excuses no matter what the clever prefrontal cortex says.

Visit my website and give me a hello.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Writing the novel with ADHD: Part one

The novel idea strikes. Jot down ideas immediately before they fly out of your head as quickly as they land.

Prepare a notebook. I use spiral notebooks. I write the title (it can be changed) on the cover. I avoid fancy and pretty, but insist on organizing the information into sections to prevent wasting time leafing through the pages. My daughter calls my system organized chaos, but it works. I use small sized post-its visible from the top to label sections: Plot/Outline, Characters, Setting, Research, Miscellaneous. Add sections as needed.

Carry a small notebook in your pocket or handbag that follows your every step. Transfer the notes into the novel notebook. Include those written on napkins, business cards, and body parts because you left your carry notebook at home.

Outline the plot. It is important to have a map.
This includes the story outline. My outlines vaguely resemble the form learned in school, or the one I taught students. The purpose is to guide you along the way. It's for your eyes only until you become famous and it surfaces to haunt and embarrass after you're dead and gone.

The ADHD mind can work for rather than against the writer. Visuals, creativity, and abundance of ideas are wasted without a system of organization. Develop yours from the beginning.

Visit Paul Keene's website.    

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Map it out

The novel is stuck in my head-I know it front to back. I know how it ends, begins, and all the stuff between. All I need do is sit (or stand) and write, write, write. Right?


Make a map while the novel is in your head. Point A-Start, Point B-End. Map out the stops, turns, and twists that lie between points A and B. The pot holes, road blocks, storms, accidents. Events that make the trip unpredictable, challenging,   adventuress, spell-binding, exciting, and filled with suspense. The page turners.

Writing a novel without a map is similar to taking a road trip across the country to a destination never traveled. Delays, wrong turns, stops for direction, and getting lost.

ADHD writers are the most likely to understand the need for mapping, but are least likely to use one. Sometimes, I need a map to ensure I make it from office to the kitchen for a coffee refill.

  1. Coffee cup empty 
  2. Take coffee cup in hand, leave desk
  3. Stop by bathroom
  4. Arrive in kitchen
  5. No cup
  6. Go to office to retrieve cup
  7. No cup
  8. Mind races-"who, what, why, where . . .?"
  9. Go to bathroom
  10. Retrieve cup, and go to kitchen
Too many restraints, too confining, stilted, loss of creativity, you say? Not at all. In fact, you are free to take side trips, alternate routes, and unplanned stops. The difference being you will know where you're going and therefore, the effect unplanned charting will have. As long as you get back on the main route and reach the destination all is well, and the trip (novel) is enhanced.

If you are not mapping, I urge you to start. Meanwhile, I need to locate my coffee cup and back to completing Between the Pieces, Book 2 of Running Nowhere trilogy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The worst 4-lettered word: Procrastination

Have you noticed the onslaught of blogs giving authors the key to successful writing? If you haven't, the good news is that you are on your way to success. If not, it is time to chain yourself to your word processor of choice and write.

Who would have guessed that the real "gamechanger" for writers favor those who write.

In the name of promoting ourselves, our books, and sharing our eccentricities and likes, we set traps that ensnare our best interests. How many minutes are spent creating posts on Facebook, twitter, Google +, et al, and searching for "the secret to writing" blogs? If you are unsure, then it is too many. 

If I were nominated for a world's best list it could well be World's Best Procrastinator. I am familiar with sneaky paths procrastination takes, and I have learned to spot it; yet, it still catches me, and once the hook is in I'm a goner. 

For those with ADHD that have asked what I do to counteract the war on procrastination, I offer my simple two-point suggestion: 

(1) Make a plan, (2) Follow the plan. 

Set concrete daily writing schedules and stick to them. Give yourself permission to work beyond the scheduled writing time. Set a concrete daily time limit for making social posts and do not exceed it. Be on the lookout for activities procrastination disguises to make you think you are doing something constructive that keep you off track.

Need another suggestion? Read Judy Christie's key to successful writing in her guest blog.

Join the readers of Among the Jimson Weeds and add your review!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Wish I could write dialogue like that."

I received a message from a new fan. I'll call her Mary since that was the name she signed on the note. Mary credited me for making my characters "very human, believable" with the "enviable talent of creating dialogue." After replaying the compliment for the feel-good after glow I gave thought to characterization and dialogue, both common threads in reviews written for Among the Jimson Weeds.

I've reached the conclusion that characters and dialogue can't be separated:
  • You must know your character before dialogue can be written (translate effective).
  • Characters are identified by their dialogue. 
I'm going to tell you how I do it and why. We're as different as our fictional characters and their dialogue, so it may not work for you. Then again, maybe it will.

I don't write a word until I know my characters inside and out. Although important, I don't limit the characteristics to favorite foods, hobby, religion, age, height and eye color. I crawl right up inside their head and don't relent until I discover how they think, their quirks, what pisses them off, their deepest darkest secrets and habits good and bad--eating habits, sexual habits, sleeping habits.

Once I know what makes my characters tick, I put them in the story plot and away we go.

My brain may be wired differently due to ADD/HD, and the characters of my novels get in my head and talk to me whether I want them to or not. It's good. It's good because they let me know when I have them doing something they wouldn't do. It's good because they tell me what to say and how they would say it.

They come to life, and that makes them believable.

This is how I do characterization and dialogue. Perhaps the minds of creative people--writers, artists are weird in their own way. Think of Toulouse-Lautrec and his Parisian shady haunts or VanGough and his missing ear. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ADHD in the classroom: teachers beware

I ran into a teacher while shopping yesterday. I actually ran in to her. The price tag pinned to the chaise lounge on the clearance shelf was too good to pass. Even though it extended two feet from the bottom rack of the shopping cart where I placed it, I navigated up the aisle with such ease nonsensical thoughts and images pushed my newly placed cargo to a less traveled section of my mind. I turned the corner and that's how I met the teacher. That's how we got into the ADHD discussion.

Regular education classes are filled with students exhibiting behaviors associated with ADHD, with or without the diagnosis. This is great for a number of reasons, foremost because they should be mainstreamed.They are bright, creative, and lovable. Teachers may have a difficult time recognizing this, and many will disagree. Why?

An ADHD child can turn the classroom into hell in a minute's time with neither intention, nor effort.

Unfortunately, regular-ed teachers do not receive training to effectively teach children with learning disabilities. Even curriculum for special education teachers tends to group all learning disorders together without strategies and techniques for specific disorders. Classroom control is acknowledged as being necessary, but little if any strategies are studied in depth. Teachers with good intentions go into the classroom not knowing how to work with  impulsive behavior, lack of focus, addictive/obsessive behavior,  and a host of symptoms from low-self esteem to uncontrollable anger and inappropriate social behavior.

Everyone loses--child, teacher, parents, peers.

ADHD children not only need organization and structure, it's crucial. However, they don't need blame, or scorn. They already think they're weird and different, they know they have trouble listening and remembering. A mother recently said that during a parent-teacher conference she was told, "you need to tell your son to focus."

Department heads of teacher education programs, school administrators, directors, teachers, parents, and students can work together to meet the needs of the child. It's our duty, plain and simple. Begin by introducing your child to the teachers and discuss accommodations.

ADHD children are amazing. Over the years, many of them learn strategies and techniques by trial and error what they aren't taught in classrooms. Unfortunately, some don't. Many of them are drop-outs from school and life.

How can we remedy this problem? Who is responsible? Is it a problem? I'd love to hear your opinion.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cool Conor Kelman -- Thinking Aloud

Introducing guest blogger, Kenni Stromme: Kenni Stromme has a love of writing and words of all kinds. Her background is in Journalism and Business. Currently she is editing several books.

“Among the Jimson Weeds,” is Book 1 in a trilogy written by Paul Keene.  I am hoping that three books will be enough. I love this story. I love the protagonist Conor Kelman and his band of quirky characters.  I want to keep them close to me, a part of my life.  I want to read more and more.

 Even when people are befriending him or offering kindness, he assumes trouble’s a’brewin’ so there's always something tragic for Conor to handle. But he’s cool, or at least he tries to be.
The excerpt below is an example of how Conor thinks and responds internally to the external world.  He is just coming of age as he and his girlfriend have embarked on a well-planned adventure-swim across the Snake River in Idaho. (The “she” he refers to is his girlfriend.) 

         She reminded me of my cousin Billy James. He was a good swimmer, too. When his family came out to see us one summer he tried to teach me how to swim, but I wouldn’t keep my face in the water so he gave up. It’s because my older sister tried to drown me when I was a little kid. One night, after the girls finished bathing, Ruthie May put me in the big galvanized tub. She forgot all about me when her boyfriend dropped by. I slipped under the water and damn near drowned. I don’t remember it, but when my two oldest sisters and their kids visit they tell stories and laugh. They always tell about drowning me and the time they dropped me headfirst on the cement at the well. It pisses me off when they laugh about the stories like they’re a big joke, like I'm a Big joke. No wonder I’m so screwed up. (from chapter 8)

Even though I am an older woman, I relate to Conor on many levels.  I think almost anyone would because he has so many interesting experiences.  If you want a great read that will rouse some awesome memories and feelings, find a copy of “Among the Jimson Weeds.”  Then wait with me for the next book. Come on Paul… get to creating…Kenni Stromme