Doorknobs and editing

You may have seen this flittering around on Facebook, but I’ll add one of the (many) relevant sections.

Normal people have a sort of mental secretary that takes the 99% of irrelevant crap that crosses their mind, and simply deletes it before they become consciously aware of it. As such, their mental workspace is like a huge clean whiteboard, ready to hold and organize useful information.

ADHD people… have no such luxury. Every single thing that comes in the front door gets written directly on the whiteboard in bold, underlined red letters, no matter what it is, and no matter what has to be erased in order for it to fit.

As such, if we’re in the middle of some particularly important mental task, and our eye should happen to light upon… a doorknob, for instance, it’s like someone burst into the room, clad in pink feathers and heralded by trumpets, screaming HEY LOOK EVERYONE, IT’S A DOORKNOB! LOOK AT IT! LOOK! IT OPENS THE DOOR IF YOU TURN IT! ISN’T THAT NEAT? I WONDER HOW THAT ACTUALLY WORKS DO YOU SUPPOSE THERE’S A CAM OR WHAT? MAYBE ITS SOME KIND OF SPRING WINCH AFFAIR ALTHOUGH THAT SEEMS KIND OF UNWORKABLE.

There are many reasons that the whole post struck me. I recognized the way, when I’m tutoring writing, I have to wrench myself away from irrelevant tangents inspired by the student’s work. I recognize the way I couldn’t take notes in college. But it turns out that this scattershot approach can be effective in editing.

Science journals have strict rules about how to set various things. So, when I see “2 mm apart” I have to think about everything I know about those words/numbers. I have to consider whether 2 should be written out (not when it’s accompanied by a unit of measurement), whether mm should be written out (not when accompanied by a number), and whether it should be hyphenated (no). This is liberating for the ADD brain because I’m going to be thinking about the associations I have with each word/number anyway.

One of the things I’ve been trying to do over the past few months is to nail down the things in my brain that are ADD. It’s hard to separate ADD, anxiety, and depression because they are all interrelated. The clinical definitions don’t help, because they are generalized. And try to separate that from everything else in your brain and you have a big stinking mess. But this picture of what this person’s interior worldview captivates me. I know when I get like that. I know why I come home and DP has left bread in the toaster oven all day. This is what I need to remember, to embrace or guard against depending on the situation.

Averil asked a variation of this question months ago, but what does the interior of your brain look like?

4 responses to “Doorknobs and editing

  1. My brain is cheerful, enthusiastic, and endlessly distractable, like a puppy. This is more blessing than curse, but it does make it challenging to act like a grownup.

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