Tag Archives: Inspiration

If I’m Not A Writer, Who Am I?

Hi everyone,

If you’ve had a chance to read this blog’s “About” section, you’ll recall that I’ve been a writer for 23 years now.  That’s a long time.  I still remember that first time I started writing down that first story, how much fun I had writing it, and how much joy I took in hearing my classmates’ reactions to it.

It was then that I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I was going to be a writer!  Before then, I would say something like “I’m going to be Batman when I grow up!” but after that…telling stories was my future.

And to be honest…23 years later, I feel like a failure.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  Those first few years, I found out that becoming a published writer was difficult, let alone living off of it.  The stories of ‘making it big’ as a writer were few and far between.  Most authors didn’t become famous until after they were dead O_o

But I was dedicated, and I was in it for the long-haul.  I would work at it, slowly, bit by bit.  I would live my life while writing in the background, striving for that day when I could make a living off of writing.

And then a ray of hope struck a few years ago.  I started to get to know more fellow writers, started reading more about self-publishing on the internet, and read the blogs of other writers, such as Michael A. Stackpole, and realized that I COULD become a writer full-time, all it would take was dedicated, hard work.

I set out almost 3 years ago with the goal of: “I will make a living off of writing within 2 years.”  And while I failed to meet that goal, In that time I published my first novel, and was on the way to publishing a second!

But then…since this past fall, sales have completely bottomed out.  I’ve delayed book 3 indefinitely.  And I’ve started to question whether or not I’m a writer.  But then, that brings up another question…

Who Am I?

When someone asks what my passion is, I say “writing!”  I identify myself as a writer.  My Dad even jokes sometimes, if you’ve ever seen the movie Paul, he steals a quote from that movie and introduces me, “This is my son, the writer Jon Wasik.”

If I ever stopped writing…I honestly don’t know who I am.  “What about your I.T. work?”  I do it because it pays the bills and I enjoy it just enough not to go insane from it.  Most of the time, any way.  Believe me, I never wanted to do I.T. for the rest of my life.  I used to call myself a gamer, but in the past year, I seriously think I can count on one hand how many video games I’ve played.  If I was a gamer, I’m not really anymore.

This question has seriously been playing through my head the past couple months.  If I fail as a writer…what then?  Where do I go from here?

A Shining Star Lights My Way

Thankfully there has been a light in my life…  When I turned to my fiancee and told her I’m a failure as a writer, and if I’m not a writer anymore, who am I?  …she just looks at me, smiles, and says, “You’re my fiance.”

But more than that, she’s said something that has kept me from spiraling completely into depression…”Don’t give up.”  It is something I’ve said to her more than once, and for her to look at me and say it as earnestly as I’ve said it to her…  It has been an immense help.  She hasn’t given up on me as a writer.  And if she hasn’t…maybe I shouldn’t give up on myself, either.

And even as I’m writing this blog, I started realizing…what do people think of when they think of me?  I’m a geek, very much so.  I’m a computer guy.  I’m a dedicated friend.  I’ve even been called a moral example.  And while yes, I am all of those things, there’s always one thing they say or think of first: “He’s a writer.”

“My son, the writer Jon Wasik.”

My Dad’s half-joking, half-serious, completely proud statement.

Have I failed to make it as a writer?  Yes.  …for the moment.  But as I have read online and have been told, as long as I don’t stop, as long as I don’t give up, I’m still a writer.

Where Do I Go From Here?

As my previous blog post stated, I have to delay book 3 of the Sword of Dragons series.  However, my fiancee made a good point…that doesn’t mean I have to stop working on things.  I can’t dedicate my time to writing right now for many reasons.  But I can’t NOT do something writing-related, because I go crazy otherwise.

My fiancee made a suggestion…if I can’t dedicate my time to getting book 3 ready right now, then I can do something else.  In the background, I can start developing other stories.  I have SO many ideas.

I can touch up Chronicles of the Sentinels, and start sending out query letters again.  I can start developing the post-apocalyptic story that started as a dream a couple years ago.  Or the sci fi that started as a nightmare last year.  Or develop the genre-crossing fantasy/sci-fi idea I came up with a few years back.

Not finish.  Not complete the development phase.  But flesh them out.  Keep my imagination going.  Until I can dedicate my time to the Sword of Dragons again.

“Don’t give up,” she said to me.  “Keep going.”

I am so glad to have her in my life…so glad that she believes in me and my writing enough to push me forward…

As a certain author stated in “A Knight’s Tale,” I shall trudge on…

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Really…thank you all so much.

And thank you, Beck Stewart.  My future wife, my Starshine, for being that light in my life that gives me hope…

-Jon Wasik

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Starting Simple – Character Archetypes

Hi everyone,

Something’s been nagging at the back of my mind lately, and I think I’m starting to figure out what it is.  And the thing of it is, it started a couple years ago.

Christopher Tatsu (Image Source - http://cdn.stylisheve.com)
Christopher Tatsu (Image Source – http://cdn.stylisheve.com)

Back when I was still going to a writer’s critique group, I took in chapter 1 of Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy.  In that first chapter, I introduce Chris Tatsu as he is finishing up his college finals.  That first chapter needs tons of work, and in fact I’m thinking of scrapping it completely at this point and rearchitecting the beginning of the novel, but I digress.

In that first chapter, Chris runs into a classmate who is, in a sense, a stereotypical ‘surfer dude’ type.  What surprised me the most: two of the people in that critique group said that Chris was boring, but the stereotypical surfer dude was more interesting.

Do people really want more of the ‘stereotypes’ than more intricate and complex characters?

I don’t think so.  But I did have a thought…

Starting Simple and Building From There

Image Source - http://wallpapertvs.com/dragon-guarding-the-treasure-hd-wallpaper/
Image Source – http://wallpapertvs.com/dragon-guarding-the-treasure-hd-wallpaper/

Something I did in The Sword of Dragons was I took a lot of fantasy tropes and made my own spin on them.  The best example I always give: in book 1, there’s a dragon with a lair in a cave guarding a treasure.  Except, instead of an evil dragon who hoards gold, this dragon was a good, intelligent, kind spirit, who was protecting the most powerful artifact in the entire Universe.

And I’ve been thinking, at least for future projects…maybe I should continue this trend for future characters and projects.  Start with an archetype, but then make my own spin on that archetype.  Maybe this approach will allow readers to more easily connect and identify with characters from the start.

Image Source - https://www.pinterest.com/smokelight/dwarf/
Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/smokelight/dwarf/

I kind of already plan to do this with book 3 of the Sword of Dragons series.  I’m introducing a dwarf character early in book 3, and he is a bit of a conundrum.  You see, he’s got the attitude of a ‘stereotypical’ dwarf, but he fights that attitude, because he serves the elven College of Serelik (first mentioned in Burning Skies.)  So he’s expected to dress nice and act nice and remain well groomed.

But I’m also thinking of future projects beyond the Sword of Dragons series.  I have so many ideas that I hope I’ll actually be able to get to someday…and I think I want to try to model characters in such a fashion.  Start them off as archetypes, but turn those archetypes on their heads and make sure that the characters are their own, complex, unique entities.

What do you think, dear readers?  Do you find it easier to identify with archetypal characters who then go off to become their own, or would you rather have characters who don’t in any way fit a stereotype?

Final Note

I’m trying to work up the courage to do another VLog…because I have an important announcement to make, and I feel like just typing up a normal blog would not be appropriate for this announcement.  This will likely end up being outside of the normal Saturday blog cycle.  I’ve only done one other VLog in the past…is anyone here interested in seeing more?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Interpreting Stories – Personal Biases

Hi everyone!

campfire-story-tellingIf I’ve never said it before, I’ll say it now: I love hearing from readers!  I love hearing what they like about my novels, what they don’t like, and especially discussing the various aspects of the stories and characters, the complexities, the nuances.

Of course, I always have to be careful with my responses, because there is so much I’m setting up in the early novels that won’t really be explained fully or come to be important until later novels.   I don’t want to spoil the long-term story for anyone!

What’s been really cool and interesting to see is how different people interpret different aspects of a story.  In fact, parts of the stories that I thought I’d written very clearly as meaning one thing, they interpret as meaning something else entirely.

Does this mean I failed to write clearly?  Does this mean I failed as a writer?

Nope.  In fact, I think it’s really cool!  In fact the only aspect I worry about is disappointing those readers in later novels when it is revealed that what they thought was really going on, isn’t actually going on.

Burning-Skies-Digital-FinalOne example I’ve already discussed in an earlier blog, about the difference between how the necromancers raise the dead in book 2 versus how the Staff of Aliz resurrects someone.  Of all of the reactions I expected from readers for Burning Skies, that was not one of them.

More recently, another reader talked to me about Dark Magic in the Sword of Dragons Universe, and how some characters seem to exhibit the use of Dark Magic before anyone else.

I’m hesitant to discuss it too much here (spoilers,) but suffice it to say that no one actually uses Dark Magic until the 2nd half of Burning Skies.

So why have readers interpreted something in a completely different way than I intended?  Again, it’s not because I failed as a writer, but rather because everyone, including myself, come to the table with different personal biases.  Every individual pays attentions to different details, sometimes in different ways.

The readers who have talked in detail with me about my novels aren’t citing broad examples in the novels, they are giving very specific examples, sometimes a single word, as evidence that their theory is true.  Words that I didn’t think were important when I wrote them, and that other readers either don’t think is important, or interpret differently due to their own personal biases.

Image Source - http://gallery.yopriceville.com/Fantasy/Dark_Magic_Master_Wallpaper#.WJXpRfJHTDc
Image Source – http://gallery.yopriceville.com/Fantasy/Dark_Magic_Master_Wallpaper#.WJXpRfJHTDc

For instance, associating color with certain types of magic.  Or because how Cardin senses the presence or absence of a presence in a character in book 2 compared to how he felt in book 1.

Which brings up another thought that literally just occurred to me as I write this blog: while we as people bring our own biases to a story, so too do the characters.  The example I just gave, about how Cardin senses a presence, that changes between book 1 and book 2, because of how his powers have changed so drastically.  Therefore how he interprets what he feels in book 2 does not have the same underlying meaning as it does in book 1.

It’s an evolution, for the characters, for the readers, and for me.  I think I wrote a blog about it before, about how when I release a novel ‘into the wild,’ potentially hundreds of different Universes are all created, as each reader sees and interprets the stories in their own way, and picture them in their head in their own unique way.

Image Source - hdwallpapers.in
Image Source – hdwallpapers.in

This is both exciting and terrifying!  Terrifying because how could I possibly remain true to every single reader’s interpretation of my world, without disappointing someone?

The truth is, I can’t.  And I think that’s something every writer out there should realize: if you try to cater to every single person’s view as you write your stories, you’ll go nuts.  It’s impossible.  So do what you know best: remain true to your story, and enjoy hearing how everyone interprets it.  Stick to your vision.

Trust yourself.

Thanks for reading, everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

-Jon Wasik

Building a Religion in Fantasy – The Sword of Dragons

Hi everyone!

One of the most interesting challenges of writing the Sword of Dragons series has been building up the religion central to the world of Halarite, called The Order of the Ages.  But how did I do it?  How do I continue to do it?

Image Source - theeventchronicle.com
Image Source – theeventchronicle.com

It started with just the basic idea: ascension.  “What’s that,” you might ask?  The most basic definition of ascension is that, after death, one’s soul transcends the physical form to become a higher being.  For instance, the Christian idea of their souls going to heaven after death is a basic example.

In the Sword of Dragons, the idea of ascension, as described by the Order of the Ages, is that the most powerful or the most devout people can ascend to a higher plane of existence, shedding their bodies and becoming celestial beings.

The Six Gods

Image Source - https://www.pinterest.com/imraphox/gods/
Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/imraphox/gods/

When I decided to make this idea central to the religion, I came up with the ‘founders’ of the religion, what would become known as The Six, the first six humans to have ascended and become known as the gods of the Order.  For each of these six, I came up with their most basic story, how they ascended, and what they are revered for.

This was long before I wrote the first Sword of Dragons novel, and doing this basic development early on allowed me to include the Order into every aspect of the world, even in ways that might not always be so obvious.  The name of the central kingdom, Tal, is named after the 2nd god, Talus.  The name of the First City is Archanon, named after the first god, Archos.

With this basic information in-hand, I began writing what would become the final novel of The Sword of Dragons.  “Wait, that’s it?  You didn’t develop it further?”  Not at the time.  I wanted to leave room for making the religion fit around my first novel’s story.

Which led to further development…

The Covenant of the Order

When I decided that the leaders of the four kingdoms needed to meet along with the Wizards, I knew that the Order would also need representation.  So I needed to come up with a governing body.  Thus the Covenant was born.  With a single member of the Order from each kingdom making up the Covenant, they were the authorities of the world, and even the Kings and Queens were supposed to take their counsel to heart.  Granted, not everyone did (King Beredis ;) ) but all respected them, none-the-less.

However, there’s more to the Covenant’s mission than anyone realizes.  They are the guardians of some of the greatest kept secrets on Halarite, the most shattering of which have yet to be revealed.  However, in book 3, their secrets shall be revealed, and even the most devoted followers will have trouble coming to terms with what has been hidden for ten thousand years…

The Sanctuaries

In book 1, I came up with basic clothing as well as the logo of the Order, six lines expanding outwards from a central point, representing the ascension of the Six.  In book 2, I created their guardian, Anila Kovin, as well as described the most sacred shrine, the Tomb of the Ascended.  Further still, in the Orc War Campaigns, I came up with a lower rank of the Order, the Clerics.

It was also in the Orc War Campaigns that I first mentioned the central place of worship for the Order: The Sanctuaries.  But what are they, exactly?

This was the latest challenge I faced in book 3, as the very first chapter takes readers into one of the smallest Sanctuaries on Halarite.  I looked to religious architecture on Earth for inspiration, and found that in most cases, religious buildings of old were built around the central ideas of their religions.

Image Source - wikipedia
Image Source – wikipedia

I learned that most religious buildings in old times, such as the old gothic-style churches, were full of symbols of the religion, and were meant to make a church-goer feel a sense of awe and feel as if they were truly in the presence of a god, or to feel as if they had stepped into a heavenly place.

Of course, I’m paraphrasing and simplifying everything I learned, but my research led me to realize that there were two aspects that the Sanctuaries needed to have.

You see, as the last of the Six and the founder of the Order, Ziarel believed in the importance of knowledge, and created some of the first books 10,000 years ago.  Thus, Sanctuaries are libraries.  Furthermore, following the design of the symbol of the Order, most Sanctuaries are round, with their stacks of bookshelves radiating out from the center.

Since not everyone on Halarite can read, the center of the buildings are pedestals where the clerics of the Order can read and interpret texts for the lay person.  Which brings me to the 2nd aspect of the Sanctuaries: centered high above, inside of the dome of each Sanctuary, is a sacred crystal, meant to help connect the mind of worshippers to the ascended plane, and to help focus souls of the recently departed so that they, too, might ascend as they pass through the sacred crystals.


Liked this glimpse into the Sword of Dragons and the Order of the Ages?  Click that like button below or click that follow button to the left!  :)

Thanks for reading, everyone, and I’ll see you next weekend!

-Jon Wasik

Dispelling A Myth – What Makes A Writer?

Hi everyone, happy New Year!

Image Source - http://adamgallardo.blogspot.com/2012/10/achievement-unlocked-agent-acquired.html
Image Source – http://adamgallardo.blogspot.com/2012/10/achievement-unlocked-agent-acquired.html

What makes a writer a writer?  Is it taking years of creative writing classes?  Do you unlock a life achievement for writing 10 books or reaching a 1 million word count?  Are you only a writer if you’ve made a best-seller’s list?  Are you only a writer if you’ve been ‘traditionally’ published?

Recently a friend pointed me to the facebook page of a best-selling author named Jeaniene Frost, and in this post, Jeaniene went on a rant and reposted a twitter rant that really struck home for me.  Click here to read her article on Facebook.

An Elitist College

nmsuWhen I went to college, I was an English major only because the university had not yet setup a Creative Writing degree.  I was excited the first week of school, because I was taking my first of what I knew would be many creative writing classes!

battlefield-earthOur first assignment from the creative writing teacher?  From one of our favorite stories, bring in a powerful first sentence to help illustrate how important the first sentence is in hooking a new reader.  I brought in Battlefield Earth, where the first sentence states that humanity is an endangered species (paraphrasing.)

When I read this in class, the instructor stopped me, and said “Okay, we need to talk about this as a class.  There will be no genre fiction written in here.”

What I would go on to find out is that almost every single creative writing instructor at this college believed that the only real writing was literary fiction, and anything else was worthless fluff.

It was my first encounter with elitist writers.  And was very disheartening.

But clearly I did not let that dissuade me.  I still took a creative writing class almost every semester of college, and I used those experiences to improve my writing in fantasy and sci-fi.

So What Makes A Writer A Real Writer?

Honestly…I hate that question.  What makes you a real writer?

Well, do you write?  Yes?  Then you’re a writer.  Not published yet?  You’re still a writer.  Self-published?  You’re a writer.  Only ever written one novel?  You’re a writer.  Only write poetry or short stories?  Yes, you’re a writer.  Romance Novelist?  You are a writer!

There are so many rules, “You’re not a writer unless you do all the things on this list.”  No.

And that’s something that’s made me stay away from certain circles.  I’ve encountered this more than once.  Even when said-elitists do things the same way I do, it still bothers me when they say “thou shalt.”

I know I’ve talked a lot about how I write, what works for me, how I plot out the story, make chapter outlines, and such.  I’ve encountered other writers who say “You MUST do that, or you’re not a good writer.”  I’ve read stories written ‘by the seat of the pants’ that are amazing (I keep seeing this called ‘being a pantser’).  So that ‘rule’ has been dispelled.

You want to know what really makes a good writer?  Passion.  Do you love to write?  Do you feel compelled to write?  Because trust me, even if you’ve had no practice in writing, that passion and desire will show in your writing, and it’ll draw in readers.

Don’t let people scare you away.  Don’t let them tell you “you’re not a real writer.” Because for every rule out there that the elitists are claiming, there’s a best-selling author who’s broken that rule.

Does that mean you’re guaranteed to be a successful writer?  No.  In fact if anything, it makes me think that there’s no actual formula to becoming a best-selling author.  Every story I’ve heard from every best-selling author I’ve ever followed has been different.  Their roads to success have all been wildly different.

So just write.  Publish in whatever way you can.  Work at it.  Don’t give up.  Don’t stop trying to better yourself.

A final note that’s sort of a disclaimer: there are ways to make your final product better, and I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t do these things.  All I’m saying here is find what works best for you, and work on it.  Some authors need editors, some don’t (I would argue most do, but not all of us can afford to hire one if we don’t have an agent or publisher backing us, and some writers are actually really good at editing their own work.)  Some authors need outlines, some don’t.  Some authors need to write every single day, some can get away with only writing a couple times a week or even less.

Find what works for you.

And trust me: if you write, you’re a real writer.

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

The Trials Continue – 2016’s Highs and Lows

Hey everyone, welcome to the last blog of the year!

And what a year it has been…with some of my greatest highs and some of my lowest lows.  I wish I could say this roller coaster was for me only, but based on the memes I keep seeing on Facebook, 2016 has been one of the most difficult years for many people, and not just because of celebrity deaths.

Originally Posted by Cinnabon.
Originally Posted by Cinnabon.

Though I do wish to pay tribute to some of my favorites who passed this year, those who have inspired and left behind a legacy no one will soon forget: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Anton Yelchin, Ron Glass, John Glenn, and Carrie Fisher.  Not to belittle all those who passed in 2016, but these five were the ones that hit me the hardest.

Looking Back on 2016

2016 started on a heart-breaking note for me, as my relationship at the time was already coming apart.  I’d spent the holidays alone, and it was one of the loneliest times of my life…  On top of that, I had failed to get Burning Skies out in November as I had originally planned, 6 months after book 1’s release.

digital-cover-1While production of The Orc War Campaigns was in full swing, I wasn’t sure it was going to do well.  I was scared that fans wouldn’t accept that as a substitute for the delayed release of Burning Skies.  I wasn’t sure the story would do well.  But I was looking forward to exploring my own wounds in the story…

In fact, as a reader recently pointed out to me, I have infused my past relationship failures into my writing a lot lately.  At the beginning of 2016, I was full of cynicism and anger, I’d given up on relationships.  I couldn’t bear another heartbreak…

Never-the-less, I trudged forward.  I said “Hell with it” and focused all of my efforts on writing and getting my name out there.  This year I had my first table at a convention, that of Starfest 2016, and sold several novels there!  It was an exciting beginning, and sales for book 1 were relatively steady in general at this point.

Character design and model: Beck Stewart. Photo by WeNeals Photography.
Character design and model: Beck Stewart. Photo by WeNeals Photography.

Then I attended Anomaly Con, a steampunk convention in the Denver area, and met some amazing authors!  In fact, of all of the conventions I’ve attended, I think Anomaly Con had the best organization for Author’s Row.

Better still, one of the most important introductions of my life was made that weekend: I met fellow author Beck Stewart.  And while I didn’t know it at the time, that brief introduction late Saturday night would become the love of my life…  :)

Burning Skies Release

Burning-Skies-Digital-FinalWhile the Orc War Campaigns had to go on a mid-season hiatus, this led to the successful release of the 2nd novel of the Sword of Dragons series, Burning Skies, and what a release it was!  I had an amazing release party with family and friends, and in the first couple months of release, I sold dozens of copies!

I was on a high – everything was starting to go right.  A couple months after the release, Beck and I started dating, and interest in my novels was on the rise.  Though terrified at one point that I was going to lose my mother, she pulled through, and the middle of 2016 was one of the best times of my life :D

But alas, not all would continue to go so well.  Sales for both book 1 and book 2 suddenly just…stopped.  No gradual draw-down, no indication it would happen, just all of a sudden…

Image source - google.com
Image source – google.com

And as 2016 comes to an end, sales continue to be almost non-existent.  Honestly I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong…  Advertising campaigns on Amazon are no longer drawing interest, and all attempts to get others to buy my novels have failed.  And while The Orc War Campaigns has completed successfully…I’ve received no feedback.  I don’t even know if anyone has read it.

As a writer, right now, I feel like a complete failure.  Months of negligible sales, including at a convention this fall, no more fan mail, it’s like everyone just…forgot about the Sword of Dragons.

I’m not sure where to go from here.  I’m trudging along on book 3, though running into a bit of writer’s block (3 days to write 1 chapter?  That’s bad…) And I don’t know what else I could do to boost sales.

Ending 2016 On A High Note

Image Source - stylecaster.com
Image Source – stylecaster.com

But for all of the despair I feel about writing, I can’t end this article on a low note.  Because for all of that, there are also some amazing things going on in my life!  My relationship continues to grow, and I got to spend a usually depressing time of the year with my girlfriend and our families!

In fact, writing aside, this turned out to be one of the best years of my life!  :D  And while I really hope I can turn my writing career around in 2017, I am so glad to no longer have to face it all alone.  I am so glad to have a companion in life, a writing partner, a cosplay partner, and my best friend :)

For all of the darkness in 2016, my Starshine has lit up my life in a way no one else could ever do.

Plans for 2017

For 2017, I want to try to get The Orc War Campaigns into print this year.  But more important is my desire to release book 3 of the Sword of Dragons by the end of May…and I honestly don’t know if I can.

The Orc War Campaigns took up more of my time than I expected, and I fell waaaay behind.  Between that and my bout of writer’s block…I’m really afraid I won’t make it in time.  Maybe a novel every year is an unrealistic expectation for myself.  I’m really not sure.  I also don’t want to rush out a mediocre product.  I want book 3 to be at least as good as books 1 and 2.

So that’s a decision I’ll have to make in the next few months – try to keep to the schedule, or delay book 3’s release….  Which would you prefer, my dear readers?  Try to get it out on time, or take my time on it and shoot for a winter release?

On that note, I wish you all a fantastic New Years tonight!  Be safe, have fun, and I’ll see you in 2017!

Thanks for reading :)
-Jon Wasik

Being A Writer with ADHD – Constant Struggles

Hi everyone!

Imagine you have your favorite internet browser open.  Now imagine you have about 50 tabs open, each to a different website.  Now imagine that you’re trying to read an article about, say, a medical condition of some sort.

All of a sudden, without you doing anything and without your consent, your browser switches to another tab, say about dog breeding.  Okay, you go along, reading that article for a few minutes.

Until your browser switches to another tab, say to a blog, where you start writing a new article.  Halfway through that, your browser switches to another tab.  And again.  And again.  Never ending.  And perhaps even more tabs open to new places that your browser switches to randomly.  Other tabs close without your knowledge and you forget what was even on those tabs.

This is what it’s like to have ADHD.  This is what my mind does when my ADHD is at its worst.

As a writer, this is particularly troublesome…

What Exactly Is ADHD?

Image Source - http://media.npr.org
Image Source – http://media.npr.org

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  But it’s not what you’d expect.  Not for me, any way.  You see, when most people think ADHD, they automatically think “hyper kids who won’t sit still!”

No.

That is not ADHD.  That can be a symptom of ADHD, but people, whether kids or adults, who are not hyper can still have it.  Like me.  Give me suger, give me caffeine, and I’m still never really hyper.

ADHD is, in essence, exactly what I discussed at the beginning of this article.  Your mind won’t stay focused on one thing.  It wanders, and you have no control over it.  Hyperactivity can be part of it, but what’s common with all ADHD is what is defined as inattentiveness.

But again, at least in my experience, inattentiveness is just another symptom of what I described above.  I seem inattentive simply because my mind wanders, and I forget what I was doing, or stop paying attention to what someone is saying.  It’s not because I’m bored with what a person is saying, it’s because I have no control.

And that is the most frustrating part of it.  No control.  I’ll fully admit up front, this has brought me to tears on more than one occasion.  I get so frustrated, I feel like I hate myself, like I’m broken…

My Story with ADHD

Thankfully, my ADHD does not seem to be a constant.  I don’t understand it, but it comes and goes over the course of many, many years.

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I was first diagnosed with it as a child.  I couldn’t focus in class.  In fact, there were several embarrassing moments where I’d be in my own head, imagining things like space battles, and would unknowingly make sound effects, drawing the attention and laughter, of my class mates.

When I was finally diagnosed and a suitable medication and dosage was found…it turned my life around.  No, seriously, it forever changed the course of my life for the better.

You see, my grades were horrible.  C’s and D’s, very close to failing.  In grade school.  More than that, as I grew increasingly frustrated, not having the capacity to understand what was going on or why, I withdrew.  I isolated myself from other kids.  I had few friends (in fact up until 3rd grade, I didn’t have any real friends.  I’m not exaggerating either…)

Then, when my doctor started me on the correct medication (which took some trial and error to find), suddenly I could focus.  Suddenly my grades shot up to A’s and occasional B’s.  I understood the homework.  The teachers started lauding about how much of a joy it was to have me in their class.

And I made a few friends, too.  I no longer felt quite so alone…

And that’s how it was for several years.  Until around when we moved to New Mexico.  I was in 8th grade, and all of a sudden, shortly after we moved, the medication started making me sick.  So I stopped taking it…

And I found I no longer needed it.  My grades stayed up. I excelled in school, and in everything I did after school.  Somehow, I seemed to have outgrown ADHD.

Or so I thought.  I’d been told by my doctor that I could outgrow it, but that it could also come back as an adult.  And it did.  With a vengeance.

About 4 or 5 years ago, it hit again.  I didn’t realize it at first, but my performance at work started to drastically suffer.  I went from being one of the best shift leads to being sat down with by my boss and talked to about my failing performance.  I couldn’t understand it, and I felt like I’d lost myself, like the person I was had vanished.

I went back to my parents’ home and saw my old doctor, not the one who diagnosed me with ADHD but the one I had known the longest, and talked to him about it.  And he agreed with my fear: ADHD had returned.

I went back on medication for it, and just as it had before, it turned my life around.  I became an exemplary employee again, I became myself again.  But I only needed the medication for about a year, and then once again, it started making me sick.  I stopped taking it, and found I no longer needed it.

I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t complain, and life went on.

Until this year.  2016 for many people has been hard, but for me, it has been doubly so.  My ADHD returned, and once again, I had no idea at first.  Only this time it came back worse than ever…

Thankfully, despite this struggle, this time I had an amazing person in my life to help me through it.  To stand with me no matter how bad my ADHD became…  Thank you so much, Starshine.  You have no idea how much it means to me :)

Being A Writer With ADHD

For those who have been reading my blog for a long time, you’ll know that I have a system for writing a novel, very structured, but open enough that it doesn’t stifle my creativity.  Click here to read that two-part blog article :)

That is because as someone with ADHD, I need to plan ahead and find ways to keep myself on-task.  Because even when my ADHD isn’t flaring up bad, I still can get easily distracted.  Having a journal, plotting out the chapters so I can always go back and look at the notes, this allows me to do what many might consider impossible for a person with this problem.

To all of my fellow ADHD sufferers, that is probably the best advice I can give you.  Yes, I know this is easier said than done, but find ways to compensate for your inattentiveness.  Write notes.  Keep a notepad active on your phone to take notes down as you remember to do things.  Use a calendar function to set reminders for important dates for you.

But most important, and I cannot stress this enough: you are not broken.  Here, let me repeat that.

We are not broken.

We can still function in society, it’s just more difficult for us.  We can still achieve great things, wondrous things!  We are not guaranteed to fail.

Don’t give up.  I know how frustrating it is, I know how hard, and there are times where I’ve felt like giving up, in life and as a writer.  But don’t.  Please don’t.  Believe in yourself.  You are not broken, and you can still do everything you want, as long as you don’t give up.

I believe in you.

Thanks for reading, everyone.  I hope this sheds some light on an often misunderstood disorder, and I hope this gives those of you with ADHD some hope.

Because a guy with ADHD wrote and published two novels, with more on the way.  :)

Thanks for reading!  And please, feel free to leave comments, click that like button, click that follow button, and all the things!  :D

-Jon Wasik