Writers’ Traits: Attention Deficit Disorder
ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADDH or ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity) are—like bipolar disorder, dyslexia, and autism—more and more frequently diagnosed. Whether all—or even most—of these diagnoses are valid is often quite justifiably questioned. You name it, and I can assure you that most people have some of the defining characteristics to a greater or lesser degree. But, nevertheless, having a term for this cluster of characteristics can be useful.
Recently the ADD characteristics have been linked to creativity. Supposedly it may be an aid to creativity. Highly efficient behaviour, and learning, requires focusing exclusively on the task at hand, no matter how boring. But not being distracted means you’re not noticing things that are more interesting to you, or unusual relationships between things. And what is metaphor, if not making such unusual connections?
Another characteristic of ADD is that there is concentrated focusing on what was distracting you, just not what you’re supposed to be attending to. I can say that this true of me. When I’m writing, it has my full attention, and I’m oblivious to what is going on around me—and time passing. (This includes meal times and appointments.) But other times I’m as flighty as can be. When I’m reading the news online or surfing the Net, I’m the guy who clicks on the sidebar links competing for my attention.
So I’ll just add ADD to my list of disorders. However, it’s nice to know that some researchers view it as an adjunct to creativity.