RE: ADD/ADHD Problems and Tech Writing/Editing Careers

Subject: RE: ADD/ADHD Problems and Tech Writing/Editing Careers
From: "Ronica Roth" <rroth -at- globusandcosmos -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 17:11:29 -0600

I love what people have written about ADD being not a disorder but a set
of better and different abilities. I have to admit that i have tended to
think that ADD is getting a little overused in our culture. Not so much
overdiagnosed, but just used as a thoughtless shorthand for short
attention span. This thread makes me realize what it really means.

What blows me away is Rose Wilcox's list of workarounds. I am pretty
sure i am not ADD, but--as several people noted--we all experience some
of the "signs" *sometimes*. I have been a writer a long time, and it is
spefically with writing projects that I have the biggest issues around
distraction, time management, needing lists, procrastination, etc. I do
use many of Rose's tricks already, and I am ready to adopt a few more
the next time I'm having trouble staying focused on a project.

A thought on the "ideal career" question. Everyone made great
suggestions around keeping the job varied--many hats and different
environments (via consulting). I find that I need that variety as well.
My perfect job has always been reporter. I was a newspaper reporter, and
I ran a small newspaper, and I still freelance magazine articles (and
write fiction and narrative nonfiction). The first great thing about
reporting was teh fact that only half my job was sitting and writing.
The other half was the reporting--getting out there to interview people,
attend events, and research topics. (I am a very good listener and
on-the-spot analyzer, which is key to successful reporting.) The other
great thing is that I get to cover wildly different subjects. I've
covered courts, federal and local government, schools, arts. I've
written about transportation, sludge, community programs, a west african
epic, the Interstate Highway System, immigrants in America, and hundreds
of other topics. I love it: I scan the world for a story, dive deep on a
subject, write the piece, and move on. Fantastic.

That last sentence leads to my thought on the hunter-gatherer/farmer
analogy. In the one-man show "Defending the Caveman", the
author/performer (forget his name) used a similar analogy to describe
female (gatherer) and male (hunter) brains. The former has that focus on
scanning (for food and for enemies while also monitoring children) and
also the interest in subtle details (the bright red berries are good,
the pale red berries will kill us). Communication is focused on the
spread-out group staying in touch and making noise to scare enemies. The
latter hunter has a more singular focus on the one task, and
communication is very directed and geared toward coordinating the hunt.
These describe some of our gender tendencies (multi-tasking, shopping,
chatting versus single-task, communication only for purpose). His point
was that this ancient heritage describes only our tendencies, not our
abilities. The woman can focus, the man can multi-task. No idea how that
idea relates to the ADD analogy. (And sorry I've probably described it
badly - end of long day.)

Good luck to all,

Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- aps -dot- com [mailto:Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- aps -dot- com] provided details around
the following areas of workaround (and others, but I'm listing the ones
I respond to)....











I have read that ADD is the mindset of the hunter/gatherer. During the
hunter/gatherer days it was important to scan the environment constantly
and then hyper focus on the berry patch. Thinking of my technical
writing tasks as the environment and the next task as the berry patch
helps too. Thinking of myself as a hunter/gatherer trapped in a
farmer's world helps me to appreciate the farmers and appreciate my
bold, creative self. ADD for me is not a disorder. It is a different
way of paying attention. I don't pay attention in a linear way. I
scan, dip down into details and scan again.


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