I used to think I had tinges of ADHD. Then I befriended someone living with ADHD. At most, my distractions are caused by an overactive brain, so when I read anything, invariably, I’ll lose concentration after a few pages or lines depending on the dryness of the material so I’ll stare out toward my physical clutter while my mind wanders, then I return to reading. What I’m trying to practice is reigning in those wanderings.
That my mind returns to the book means I don’t have severe ADHD.
As I’ve read Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark, containing fifty-some tools for expanding writing repertoires, I often found my mind wandering while reading. Since I’m dealing with some eye strain issues, I thought, “oh, great, I can’t even read books now, let alone do much of anything digital,” but then I thought about what I was doing, as we so often forget to do when we’re in the middle of living our busy lives doing busy things for busy employers. It wasn’t that I was losing interest. It was that I needed to absorb some of the material, and how I do that is by first letting the material soak in, marinate in my mind’s mush, then let my mind wander to wherever it needs to before it returns fresh and ready to go.
Usually, my mind will wander to scenes from “The Story.”
Once the scene has played out in my mind, then I’ll be ready to go. These scenes are always voluntary and usually happen when I rest my body and let my mind focus on nothing. I may close my eyes or may just sit there. I wonder if other people’s minds will wander toward ‘nothing.’ I’m not sure how that’s like. My mind doesn’t stop. Whenever I try to meditate, push positive and negative thoughts away, what will then happen is some thought will scream at me, so I suppose it’s better to let the thoughts clamor as they will because at least they’ve been quieter in the past year now that I’ve let them have their space to express themselves and rest.
Letting my mind and body rest will even more important now.
I just had a mild migraine overwhelm my senses for about thirty seconds. I could still think and hear and interact, but I couldn’t do anything other than close my eyes and let the pangs rush through, and wait for the waves of pain to conclude. The cycle is usually a minor overwhelm for every major period of time. The longer of stretches I go without rest, the longer of stretches of forced-rest by way of overwhelming pain flood my senses. If we look at all feedback as gifts, then these migraines are teaching me how to rest more. While I write, I don’t always need to write with my eyes open. When I read, I can take minor breaks to let my mind digest the information.
I can edit with my eyes open and I can continue reading after those short spells.
If the material is too dry to read, then it’s OK to consider whether it’s even worth reading at all. For this book, I think the material is worthwhile, even though much of it is pedantic and academic. If I were taking this book as a class, my mind would not be as focused as if it were Stephen King teaching a class on his book On Writing, which is one of my favorite books not just on fiction writing but in self-confidence. He teaches you to become the writer you want to be, with guidelines that work for him while realizing that you probably don’t want to be the second King. You want to be your own person.
Clark focuses on rules and exercises, which can be boring.
Rather than exploring my apartment-mansion’s junk, thinking about when I’d get to the thises or thats, I should instead close my eyes to focus on either what I just read or what my mind needs to process in order to clear off the biggest items off its plate. That’s why I can’t read while listening to any music. I require complete focus while reading in order to digest every word, sentence, and the overall meaning. If that level of focus isn’t required, then it’s OK for me to skim through the material. I wanted to write about this sensation because I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way, especially in this Age of Hyper-Content.
Let me give an example in regards to new albums.
I’m writing this essay on the ninth day of January. Nine days in and there are already hundreds of easily-accessible albums I could hear right now, released officially this year. Compare this to even last year, where it took a few more days to get to this point. Compare this to ten years ago, where it would have taken a few months to get to this point. We are at an information and content saturation point, so we have to learn how to shut off the external stimuli and let our inner voices guide us toward the paths we want to go in life. For me, for this life I want to live, it’s about learning how to be the best writer I can.
I need to learn how to tell stories as well as experience them.
Some stories are boring on their own. We may see some vignette on the bus out of the corner of our eyes that may, years later, provide the impetus flashpoint for the inspiration we needed to finish a section of a short story or review. Training my mind to focus on what is important to my long-term goals, rather than what is flashiest, can help hone that discipline, so when I see something crazy on the bus, I can capture that moment quicker and easier without as much fuss.
Writing essays like this is all about capturing those vignettes.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: As detailed below, I was reading as a way to still engage my mind with hobbies I enjoy while the worst of these migraines as a subsect of my mindbender headaches, calm down enough so I can return to other more digital hobbies. The next few essays in this series should be more book-oriented, and might be about this particular book, since it’s the one I want to clear off my plate the soonest. I have another few books I want to soak in more.|
|Related: Other Media Meandry essays.|
|Photo: While I was reading about two hours ago, I looked up in one of these distracting thoughts, remembered back to my eye strain practices of closing my eyes, and wanted to write about this thought before it was sidetracked with another thought.|
|Written On: 2020 January 09 [38 minutes, from 5:47am to 6:25am while listening to 海辺のSENTIMENTAL and being somewhat distracted by headaches or research, written in WordPress]|
|Last Edited: 2020 January 09 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|