I love to read. I revel at finding new books, and love everything about bookstores. The excitement of a new story waiting behind each glossy cover, competing for my attention, is an adventure. I love the wooden bookshelves, and the overstuffed chairs often found at the end of an aisle. I love posters about books, the book trailers I see online, the hype of a new series in conversation. Books are personal for me, because the journey to complete them takes everything I’ve got.
I have ADHD, (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and for some this means they can read and read and read without stopping. For me, it takes a long time to finish a book. It doesn’t matter how creative it is, how exciting, or how well it’s written. Getting through the pages of a book without distracting thoughts haunting my focus is my biggest hurdle.
Everyone with this diagnosis is different. I have listed some links at the bottom of this post for further reference. But, with my path leading to the endpoint of authoring a book one day, I wanted to talk about the reading side of things.
I asked a young person (fifteen years of age) how reading with his ADHD diagnosis affects him. He had this to say:
“If you have to read a book – you don’t want to read it. If you don’t have to read a book – you still don’t want to read it. If you try to decide to push through a book you want to read – it’s really hard because you enjoy the information you get in the book but you start thinking about other things no matter how hard you try, and you can’t read it.”
I asked what worked for him, because he did have a few favorites he was able to get through successfully. He said genre really matters. For him, he needs adventure with problem-solving. His mind and body must be engaged in the story. Survival tales work well for him. He’s also an athlete, so sports-themes, especially biographies of athletes, are inspiring.
I can relate to his need for the right genre, especially when I was younger. When my mind is vying for attention in a million places at once, reading a story of personal interest matters. I will say, though, as I’ve aged, I’m finding my interest in other genres growing. This could have to do with the fact that I’m making reading more of a goal to conquer for myself. As a teacher, I know the more you read, the better you read. I think it’s fair to say, the more you read, the MORE you will read. A couple of the articles linked below mention this as well. I have worked on growing myself as a reader for years now. But when I decided to become a writer, it became even more of a quest.
If I am to be the writer I want to be, then I need to be a reader that actually gets books read. I’ve made a list of tricks that work for me:
Ten Tricks I Use For Reading When ADHD Gets In The Way:
- Schedule reading time into my day and hold myself accountable (even if I can only read a page).
- Re-read if I catch my mind wander and connect to whatever is happening in the story.
- Focus on what the writer is doing to tell the story. Jot it down. This is the writer in me.
- Celebrate every amount of reading accomplished (even if it’s only a page).
- Make a list of every book completed so I can feel fantastic about it. I like to use goodreads (when I remember), and sadly I keep all my books instead of passing them on. They’re like little trophies. Maybe one day I will share them… 😊
- The more I read, the more I want to read. So, I try and choose reading over other options, when I get the chance. I mentally praise myself for these choices.
- Carry a book with me wherever I go. Waiting Room reading counts.
- Read several books at a time, so if one doesn’t pull me at the moment, another one will.
- Tell other people about the books I’m reading so I hold myself accountable.
- Don’t worry if it takes me a long time to finish a book, just keep reading.
In addition, there is always a benefit to audio books. I find enormous success listening to stories when I don’t have the time to sit down and read, or my eyes are too heavy from the hyper-focused writing I do. But this is another post for another day, because today, I want to hold my books in my hands, smell the fresh ink and paper, discover the unfolding stories at my own pace.
I am not a huge traveler, although with every new place I visit I seek out a bookstore. I tend to search for the poetry section first. There is always a treasure awaiting my find. But I buy other books to read too. I love new books. And now with dedicated effort from my tips mentioned above, I read the books that used to frighten me. I dive in and find joy in every minute it takes me to finish them.
It may be a bit of a conundrum to collect books that might take me a long time to read, but I don’t let that stop me. Just seeing my piles of waiting wonders is an encouragement. Stack them up and have them ready. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
And always on the other end, I find joy in the reward.
Writing Advice: Read like a Writer, Write like a Reader
As a teacher I tell my students to read like a writer and write like a reader. I’ve written about this before, but I think it’s worth repeating. You will hear at writing conferences, and in other writing circles, to read the genre you are writing. I agree with that, but I also believe good writing is good writing. And reading from other genres is perfectly fine. Just keep track of the crafts you notice. See how they might work in your own writing. Or realize why they won’t.
In any case, pick up a book as homework for your writing. Try out something you notice. Maybe it’s word choice, or a naturally descriptive metaphor. Maybe it’s the close POV pulling you in, in first person or even third. Maybe it’s the way the final line of a paragraph is set below on its own to add emphasis. Whatever it is that catches your eye, whatever you notice that’s working in the story, give it a try.
Read to be that writer you long to be, even when it might be a struggle to finish the books you’re reading. Then, my friends, get on back to your own pages in development.
Happy Writing (because at least you’re writing),
Content and Image Links:
https://untapped.limitlessly.com/how-to-read-a-novel-when-you-have-adhd/ (Reading a novel with ADHD)
https://www.verywellmind.com/remembering-what-youve-read-20692 (Tips getting through reading with ADHD)
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-best-strategies-managing-adult-adhd/201807/do-you-have-adhd-and-struggle-reading (More tips on getting through reading with ADHD)
https://www.additudemag.com/the-adhd-book-worm/ (Reading can being calming for some with ADHD)
https://athome.readinghorizons.com/blog/how-does-adhd-affect-reading-skills (I like the example about the dimmed lights in every room, from this article)
https://add.org/reading-comprehension-college-student-adhd/ (Nice insight and solid study skill tricks)
https://westoahu.hawaii.edu/ekamakanihou/?p=1641 (book with imagination coming from pages)
https://redmondtowncenter.com/merchants/brick-mortar-books-new/ (Brick and Mortar Bookstore photos)
Categories: Thoughts on writing...
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