【Book Writing w/ ADHD】Month 2Reflections

Quick Background

I’m writing an introductory AWS (Amazon Web Services) book with a technical book publisher, and hoping to have the first draft in mid-2022. I have severe executive function disorder because of brain injury caused by brain surgery 10 years ago, which is a blessing and a curse. I’m able to mostly compensate for my executive dysfunction and attention deficit with tricks, tools, and apps, but I still struggle from time to time, especially when it’s something difficult or new. Like writing a whole entire book.

I consider myself a “sprinter” and not a “marathon runner” in terms of being able to commit to long-term projects. When I’m in flow, I’m able to churn out an amazing amount of fairly high-quality work. When I’m not, you get absolutely nothing out of me. I’m trying to level the “absolutely nothing” period into “somewhat productive” so that I can at least produce something whenever I need to, regardless of what my brain says.

I’m able to do short-term projects, but being able to keep up long-term commitments like YouTube Video or Blog schedules is just not in the cards. It’s something I’d like to work on, but at the same time, I don’t want to force myself because the moment it becomes an obligation, it becomes a source of stress, and then I start feeling anxious.


Month 2 Reflections

Month 2 of writing is over!

I took the first work week off, because the meeting with my editor was scheduled for the next week. Then I thought I’d get right down to it for the rest of the month, but that lasted just one week, and then I had a crisis situation at home (we’re all fine, and it’s not me or my family) that I had to deal with, so I didn’t touch my manuscript for two weeks. So in reality, I got 1 week of writing in for the month.

This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. But I only link things I tried and loved myself, so whatever I’m recommending is what I’d recommend with or without the affiliate link.

Things I tried, What worked, What didn’t

  • I stopped reading in the morning, and just got right down to work. It seems like I’m not the kind of person who benefits from a robust “morning routine.” I just want to get right down to it ?
    • I also tried to switch my personal training to the afternoon, but then life became chaotic, so I haven’t been able to see if that had any benefits or not.
  • I tried to do it during the week, I tend to still gravitate towards working in the weekends at a cafe with my husband.
    • I’ve come to find that working at home really doesn’t work, so I’ll have to get myself to the cafe. Once I can “get in the zone” in a cafe, I find that I get days worth of work done in one sitting.
  • I created a new profile on my laptop that just has my work related Google account logged in (I use Google Docs for writing), and Spotify. This helps me a lot in having “on” and “off.”
    • When I’m taking a break, I switch my profile to have access to things like YouTube and Twitter.
    • This one thing is probably this month’s winner “productivity attempt.” Logging out of Twitter wasn’t enough. I needed a completely separate work space, kind of like an “office” for my laptop.
    • Kept me from having to purchase a new laptop during Black Friday too. How cost effective ?
  • I had to take weeks worth of breaks, but because I had already broken down the tasks I needed to do in TickTick, I knew exactly where I stopped, and what I still needed to do in order to complete the editing, which was super helpful.
    • I actually met the deadline despite not touching the manuscript for 3 weeks out of the 4! MIRACLE!
  • Thanks to my Executive Function Disorder, I’m really living the 80/20 principle. Honestly, it’s probably more something like 90/10 or 95/5 principle with the amount of work I get done in very small amount of time vs the amount of work I get done when I’m trying to make myself focus ?
  • So far, what my “focus” setup looks like:
    • Go to a cafe and make sure I’m not hungry or thirsty
    • Use a work profile on computer, turn off phone
    • Use TickTick to break down the tasks, and pick which tasks/sections to tackle at each session
    • Write out paper-copy of the to-do list so I can physically check them off
    • Take a break after each section
    • Noise-cancelling headphones and “focus” Spotify playlists (I’m considering noise-cancelling earbuds, but I’ve been hearing mixed reviews about them… anyone have any thoughts?) to tell my brain it’s “work time”
    • Make sure I get plenty of sleep and rest to rest my brain (I can work through body exhaustion, but not brain exhaustion)

Other Thoughts, Ideas, and Musings

  • Due to the emergency situation we were having at home, I came to really appreciate my DINK (Dual Income No Kids) life with barely any distractions (as way of young children), and how you’re basically free to make your own schedules, work as little or as much as you want, and go anywhere you want.
    • I decided I really need to be more cognizant of how I use my time and how I do work/life. When I can squish down my commitments to smaller chunks of focused time, it frees me up for when life throws curve balls and I can do what needs to be done without jeopardizing my other commitments.
  • Despite it all, I managed to do 2 podcast interviews and 1 Twitter Spaces. I was also invited to go to re:Invent 2021, but I decided last minute that I need to prioritize rest and health after the whole fiasco. So I’m watching my friends and fellow AWS Heroes mingle with a pout in my living room ?
  • I took 1 week off personal training, and MY BACK AND SHOULDERS AND EVERYTHING STARTED HURTING AGAIN!! Oh boy. I guess I’m a gym person now. I can’t stop anymore… ?
  • I didn’t really buy anything for Black Friday, because when I need or want something I tend to just buy it. I am still considering the Nutri Bullet to make smoothies since I can get nice fruit for cheap at a grocery store nearby, but I’m not 100% sold yet (especially because I already have a nice blender… it’s just huge…).
    • BUT! I am still very pleased with last year’s Black Friday purchase of a Roomba. Man. That guy is the REAL MVP. He’s really changed our “stay at home” lives!
Hiroko Nishimura
AWS Community Hero. Special Education teacher turned IT Engineer turned Technical Writer. Author "AWS for Non-Engineers" (Manning Publications). Technical Instructor "Introduction to AWS for Non-Engineers" (LinkedIn Learning).

One thought on “【Book Writing w/ ADHD】Month 2Reflections”

  1. I’m either all in or have no motivation. I began a historical fiction novel a couple of years ago, got about 80 pages in and completely dropped off the radar with it. I keep attempting to go back to it, and for some reason can’t. I am the queen of unfinished projects and sometimes it’s incredibly infuriating lol.

    That being said CONGRATS ON PUBLISHING! That’s a crazy wonderful accomplishment. You’ve come so far in the last few years and it’s so amazing to see how you’re moving up. I’m so happy for you, and once your book comes out you’ll have to let us know :O

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