“An addiction to distraction is the end of your creative production.”Robin Sharma
This is supposed to be a post about daydreaming, but I have a lot to talk about today. I’ve actually written 1,000 words on daydreaming in a separate post, but I just can’t bring myself to publish it, and here is why: Creativity is a fickle mistress.
She Comes And She Goes
I’ve already mentioned before that I’ve been pretty much going through the motions since my grandma died. I get a sudden burst of inspiration, here and there, but most of my posts are feeling forced and rushed to me. I’m starting to question my abilities and my ideas for the blog and now the podcast.
Have I gotten myself in over my head? Should I stop trying to expand on an idea before I’ve perfected its current iteration? Will I run out of ideas…out of steam…out of drive? I haven’t written anything in a week and I thought taking the week off from writing would help. It didn’t. I was still sitting here, hating everything that came from my fingertips, and trying to write something worthy of your eyeballs.
I realized that this is it. This is what I should tell you about. Creativity, for me, comes and it goes. Sometimes I feel so inspired that I can write all day and all night and be proud of the results. Some weeks, I can barely write a word. It’s so fleeting, in my experience. You have to catch lightning in a bottle when you can and that is exactly what I’ve been doing the last several months with this blog.
Sometimes, though, my brain wants to be creative and it can’t. I can feel it in there, yearning to do something. No matter what I do, I can’t get focused or take it seriously. It’s the opposite of hyperfocus. I call it the “in-between” time; my brain longing for stimulation, but unable to zero in on anything for any significant amount of time. That’s where I am right now. The in-between time.
Breaking The Rules
Another thing that has been making me feel out of place and less creative…writing for “blogging.” Obviously, I want people to find my blog and, to do that, I need it to be in the search. So then I’m worried about SEO while I write. Are my paragraphs short enough? Did I use the keyword enough times? Did I use the keyword too many times? Is there a number in my title? Anyway, it’s all starting to feel a bit stifling.
If anyone has any advice for a mental health blogger on how to write from your heart and still have good SEO, hit your girl up because I’m struggling to juggle both. Anyway, mental health blogging is very different from other niches, but the same rules apply across the board. I *think* this is the ADHD, but I get caught up on rules.
If there are rules or instructions, I have to follow them exactly. This is cool if you’re building a shelf. Not cool if they are made up rules that you read about on Google and now you’re shoving yourself into a box because of said imaginary rules. So, I’m trying to find a way to stop doing that to myself. A lot of the time I don’t realize that I am, but once I realize it I’m pretty good about redirecting myself.
When I first started, I read that you should always schedule your posts on the same day and same time every week, so your readers know when to expect a post. It’s sound advice and I’m not here to change anyone’s mind, but I was struggling with it. I couldn’t decide what days and then I couldn’t decide what times.
I threw a question out on a blogging group about when was the best day/time and a couple of seasoned bloggers came back and their solid advice was, “Hit publish as soon as you’re done writing and editing it.” Their reasoning was sound and I realized I was at it again…trying to enforce rules on myself that I knew I would have a hard time adhering to, to begin with.
I still try to write 3-4 posts a week and I usually know which topics I’ll write about for the week, but I don’t worry about what time or scheduling. I just publish when I’m ready; no pressure. I need to start doing that with other aspects of blogging as well. I want my work to speak for itself; I connect with you on a deeper level when I’m being open and honest and writing from the heart.
An Update, Of Sorts
So, I’ve been forcing myself to write and hoping that my spark comes back soon. It will. It always does. Besides this chink in my confidence, things are going really great. We’ve recorded the second episode of The Winter Of My Discontent podcast. It isn’t without its faults and we had a couple of technical glitches, but we’ll get better, I promise. Regardless, it was a great conversation about depression with a great friend and you should check it out!
Things with the blog are going really well, actually. You guys are showing up every day, some of you come back over and over! I love you for it. What I’m trying to do here is so important to me and to so many people who suffer from brain disorders. The fact that you see that and you stand with me…it touches me to my soul. Thank you so much for making The Winter Of My Discontent a (small) success.
Also, to everyone who reaches out to me, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every comment, every DM, every email…it is literally what keeps me going on the days when it’s hard. My DMs and email are always open.
My mental health is doing well…all except for my ADHD. My anxiety is low, I’m handling stress well, my depression is manageable, no intrusive thoughts; that ADHD is a kicker, though. I know my focus will return eventually. We’re still working on trying to find the right meds. We’ve been trying to get it right for 6 months now and I think we’re closer than ever.
AND!! Just because I worked hard on this, even when I didn’t want to, what follows is the originally planned daydream post:
Daydreaming, imagination, and ADHD; quite the trifecta. When these 3 qualities are just right, you get a mind full of stories that you are in control of. I am a prolific daydreamer. I always have been. I can create entire worlds and casts of characters in my head. I break when real life calls and then when I get a few minutes alone, I’m back in the world inside my head, picking up where I left off.
I am a writer and a dreamer, neither would be possible without daydreaming and my endless imagination. Daydreaming is having a series of usually pleasant thoughts that distract from your present reality. Have you ever been staring at something (or worse, someone), but you weren’t really seeing them because you were lost in your own thoughts? “Sorry, I was off in space,” you might say. You were daydreaming.
The Skinny On Daydreaming
Imagination is the ability of the mind to produce novel ideas without any immediate input of the senses. When you combine the two together, they can make a powerful force. An overactive imagination and the inability to self-regulate can make trouble for a person with ADHD; we can’t always turn it off and sometimes don’t even realize we’re doing it. Science has shown that the imagination center of the brain is more active in people with ADHD. Also, impulsivity and risk-taking lead us to new ideas.
Maladaptive daydreaming is intense daydreaming that often distracts from real life. This is not your mother’s daydreaming. Maladaptive daydreams are highly vivid and immersive, are often long and hard to “escape,” and can be triggered by external stimuli. People with ADHD can actually hyperfocus on a daydream and get lost for hours, if they let themselves.
I can’t put into words how immersive these daydreams are. In them, I am always a more perfect version of myself; the woman I’m working on becoming, I guess you could say. The other people in my daydreams are either the best kind of people I can possibly imagine or, if they are bad people, they have no power over me; it’s a perfect world.
When I first read about maladaptive daydreaming, I took it to Dr. W right away. It sounds like such a negative way to put something that has helped me so much in my life. She pointed out that it is actually a very healthy coping mechanism; a way to give your mind a break in a safe place where you can’t be hurt.
Daydreaming allows your mind to take a break, release tension and anxiety, and to refresh itself. It can help you:
- Manage conflict (uh, who doesn’t have imagined arguments in the shower?!)
- Maintain relationships
- Cement beliefs and values
- Boost creativity
- Achieve goals
- Relieve boredom
- Help with problem solving
Daydreaming And Me
Daydreaming has saved me more than once. When I was a younger woman, I used to daydream about all of the big dreams I had. Sometimes, I let myself believe them. If I believed that those daydreams could come true, that meant things could get better for me. That led to having hope when it was in short supply. Hope keeps you alive.
Make no mistake, these are not just your average kid-staring-out-the-window daydreams. Because of the effect that ADHD has on the propensity to daydream and on the imagination, they can be extremely vivid. You can almost smell the air and feel the wind on your skin. You can completely immerse yourself in the world that you’ve created; it feels like you’re there.
For me, they aren’t difficult to come out of, but it’s disappointing to be interrupted. These daydreams are an escape from the real world. When it comes knocking at the door to your imaginary dream house, it’s a rude awakening.
I tend to daydream more often when I am under extreme stress or when my disorders aren’t at bay and it’s honestly been a while since I’ve sat and let my mind wander. Before I was married and had a child, I would sit for hours with music on…just letting my mind go. Not only did it feed some hunger inside me, but it also helped me understand myself better.
You start to realize what you where you stand and what you will stand for. You become acquainted with the subconscious parts of your brain. Getting to know yourself inside the quiet spaces can be delightful; you never know what adventure awaits you next.
I don’t write fiction often, but every fiction idea I’ve ever had started out as a daydream. A really intense, beautiful mirage. Every main character started out as me, in my mind, and every scenario some random scene that has popped into my head in some form or another. They usually come to me in short little clips that I just grow on.
A woman, drinking her sorrows away in a hotel bar in NYC.
My best friend, long dead, coming to visit me on a lonely night.
A man whose mysterious great-uncle has left him a magical estate.
A woman who can access other timelines through her extremely vivid daydreams. (see what I did there?)
Anyhow, I digress…this is not a post about all of the fiction ideas I’ve ever had and never written. You get the idea, though. Daydreaming fuels my creativity, while also giving me an escape when things become too much. I even use them to help me relax and fall asleep on nights when sleep eludes me.
Who knew, right? All those years the teacher gave you a hard time for spacing out, you were just exercising a kick-ass coping mechanism! Make sure you take some time to stop, put down the screens, and allow your mind to freely wander; explore your fantasies, get clarity on your thoughts and beliefs, and relax. Daydream away, my friends.
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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight! 💜💜
Writing about living with ADHD and mental illness and my journey down a thriving path forward. Breaking stigmas and creating community, one post at a time.