Did you know that some of the most celebrated authors, such as George Bernard Shaw and Seth Godin, have also dealt with the challenges of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
If you have ADHD, you might worry about writing a well-structured essay, be unsure about where to begin, or even worry about overlooking important details while editing. Hang in there – with the right strategies, you can write a great essay while staying calm and focused.
Why is it so hard to write essays with ADHD?
People with ADHD often face challenges in maintaining focus on tasks that demand extended periods of attention. They find it difficult to effectively organize and structure their ideas, and they tend to have a greater tendency to procrastinate. As writing involves multiple tasks, it can overwhelm students with ADHD, resulting in mental fatigue and decreased efficiency.
We reached out to Matt, one of our expert writers who have ADHD, to bring you these seven effective techniques that will help you focus while writing essays, despite ADHD.
1. Establish a structured writing routine
While creating a structured routine is common advice for anyone who has trouble writing, it is particularly vital for college students with ADHD.
When you designate specific times for writing and consistently stick to it, your mind tends to get accustomed to the writing process during these dedicated hours, making it easier for you to focus and write your essays. It starts associating certain times with writing sessions.
So, find the time you feel most alert and productive, and dedicate it to writing. Consider factors like your energy levels, environmental conditions, and personal preferences. For some, it could be early morning, for others, it could be around midnight when everyone’s asleep.
Remember: establishing a routine just a week before your deadline is not enough. To make it effective, it’s important to implement and practice the routine early on so it becomes a habit over time.
Do people with ADHD make good writers?
Yes! They have the ability to think creatively and bring a fresh perspective to their writing. Additionally, their intuition and sensitivity enable them to convey complex emotions effectively. While writing abilities vary from person to person, there is no reason to believe those with ADHD can’t be good writers.
2. Organize your research notes
How often do you waste time locating specific information you thought you came across while doing research? Failure to track sources, mixing up research findings, and difficulty in finding information while drafting are all consequences of poor research organization skills.
What you need is a structured note-taking system.
This is crucial for maintaining focus because it can be challenging for ADHD students to keep track of information. An organized system ensures your research is well-organized, accurate, and readily accessible when you get down to writing your essay.
Here are some practical ways to organize your research notes:
- Use note-taking apps to document information;
- Sort your research material based on subtopics, arguments, or even by the order in which they will appear in your essay;
- Summarize key points while doing research;
- Highlight important information or quotes that you might need to refer to or use;
- Create an annotated bibliography as you write.
Investing a few extra hours in organizing your notes during the research stage will prove to be a lifesaver when you begin drafting your essay.
3. Create an outline
Do you find yourself muddled with racing thoughts, not knowing how or where to begin? You tell yourself, “I’ll come to it later” but you keep putting the writing process off until you can’t anymore, and what follows is a rushed job.
This is the story of many students who experience ADHD.
The most effective way to avoid such a situation is to start the essay writing process by creating an outline. An essay outline serves as a roadmap that helps you organize your thoughts, structure your ideas, and maintain focus while writing.
When you create an outline, you’re able to see the ‘big picture’ which is the first step to writing a well-structured essay. This is the basic outline of any essay:
- Thesis statement
- Topic sentence
- Supporting evidence
- Closing thoughts
Tailor this to your topic, add your ideas as bullet points, and there you go – you have an outline!
If you need help creating an outline or writing an essay from scratch, consider taking help from a writing service for students like Writers Per Hour.
We assign the most suitable writer for your assignment, guaranteeing a high-quality, well-researched essay that meets your expectations and is delivered on time.
4. Set mini goals
One of the techniques that transformed essay writing for Matt was setting mini-goals.
He sets targets to complete each paragraph within a specific timeframe. “Every time I achieve these mini goals, I feel a sense of accomplishment which motivates me to work on the next section,” he says.
A simple but highly effective technique well-suited for ADHD college students.
Once you have the outline ready, divide the essay into smaller, manageable chunks. For instance, the first milestone could be to finish the introduction in five hours, followed by the first paragraph of the body in 2 hours, and so on.
Every milestone you meet is proof of steady progress, leaving you with a sense of satisfaction and renewed motivation to tackle the next one with more determination.
However, be realistic about your goals. Don’t try to take on too much that may lead to frustration and burnout.
5. Implement the Pomodoro technique
Expanding upon the previous point, the Pomodoro technique is a great way to stay focused on writing essays.
This technique breaks the writing process into manageable intervals. Let’s say you decide to work on an essay section for 25 minutes. During that time, you will have to focus entirely on the essay and immerse yourself in the writing process.
After 25 minutes, you can take a break of 5 minutes after which you will get back to 25 minutes of intense work. Once you’re done with 4 such Pomodoros (25 minutes of concentration), you can take an extended break of 15-30 minutes.
By working in such concentrated bursts, you’ll be able to harness your ADHD tendencies and make significant process in your essay. Moreover, there are lesser chances of stress and burnout because you’re giving yourself enough time to rest in between.
Are people with ADHD slow writers?
People with ADHD may not necessarily be slow writers, but they tend to face certain challenges such as focusing difficulties, impulsive tendencies, and overthinking that might impact the speed of their writing process.
6. Minimize distractions
Studies suggest that people with ADHD are easily distracted, which is why you need to take extra efforts to keep distractions at bay while writing essays. Even minor interruptions can divert your attention and disrupt your writing flow.
Measures to minimize distractions to maintain focus while writing essays
- Find a dedicated space to write – this can be your room, a quiet corner in your house, your college library, or anywhere else you think you can concentrate properly;
- Consider using noise-canceling headphones;
- Put your phone in ‘do not disturb mode or keep it away when you’re writing;
- Use focus apps such as Freedom and Cold Turkey to prevent you from browsing social media platforms and other websites that are not relevant to your essay;
- Ask your family, friends, and roommates not to disturb you during this time.
7. Keep an editing checklist
As someone with ADHD, editing can be tough because you may find it hard to focus on the small details and concentrate. On the other hand, you may become so absorbed in one part of your essay that you might overlook other important elements.
The solution is to have an editing checklist you can use while writing essays. Use it to be consistent in your writing, review the important details and manage your time effectively.
Elements you can include in your editing checklist
- Overall structure of the essay;
- Logical representation of ideas and arguments;
- Grammar, spelling, and punctuation;
- Check for wordiness and confusing sentences;
- Sufficient evidence and examples to support your arguments;
- Adherence to citation and formatting guidelines.
Alternatively, you can also hire a college paper editing service for expert help.
It’s also a good idea to join communities and connect with others who struggle with ADHD. This is a good way to share coping strategies and learn from each other.
We agree it’s not easy having ADHD and having to write an essay while adhering to strict deadlines. However, don’t let self-doubt come in the way.
With practice and the right strategies, you will be able to approach your essays in a structured and organized manner – and enjoy the writing process.
Last edit at Jul 27 2023