Why Artists Look Like They Have ADD

One of the most frequent “confessions” by new clients is, “I think I have ADD.”

“Why”, I ask, “do you think that?”

Here’s a few of the laments I’ve heard:

I’ve started 7 projects and  haven’t finished 1.

I can’t sleep because my head is buzzing with ideas.

My wife/husband/partner accuses me of being a flake/dilettante/artiste.

I check my Facebook/Twitter feed every 5 minutes.

I can’t resist looking at my iPhone every 2 minutes.

I have 39 Firefox tabs open at once.

I start to read a blog post, then see another one, click on it, see something else, and before I know it hours have passed.

Sound familiar?

Sure enough these “symptoms” sound kinda like Attention Deficit Disorder.

But, before you go running off and down a pill or six, take a moment to listen to this.

I’ve coached hundreds of Artistic type over the last 22 years. And, like me, I’ve noticed that they do have a pronounced tendency to look ADD-like.

But, the “problem” isn’t ADD. It’s the way Artistic brains are wired.

Years ago, a woman in my Mastermind group, described her brain as being like a “tangled ball of string”. My partner shuddered at the notion. I, on the other hand, was intrigued.

I knew this woman was likely the same personality type as me. So, I began to pay more attention to the attentional-challenges she and I had. And, I began to think about how my brain was constructed.

Finally, I came to the conclusion that my brain was like a huge network, kind of like a spider web. So that everything that touched any part of the ‘net’ set off vibrations in every other part. It was as if everything was connected to, or associated with everything else.

Then I read Kay Redfield Jamison’s soul searching memoir, “An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness.” In it she used the lovely term dendritic to describe the way in which her brain was wired. It made so much sense to me and was such an apt description of the way so many of my artistic clients brains seemed to work.

Dendrites are, of course, the connectors of the brain. I believe that artistic-types have looser connections or perhaps more easily stimulated connections in their brains. And, perhaps a better or stronger connection to their Right Brain.

So, what happens in the Artistic brain?

First, let me say, that 1 of the reasons for our apparent inability to focus, to stay attentive to 1 thing, is because we are wired to notice, to be stimulated by almost everything in our ‘field of view’. I think of it as swimming in a river of data. Where other types may not even know there is a river, we wallow, frolic in, and are stimulated by ideas/data/information.

And, each discrete bit of data pings the neural net of our braid and our dendritic brain thrums and hums. And, quite frankly, gets turned on! Information is sexy.

Little wonder then that it’s hard to stay attuned to 1 thing.

But, we can!

When we put our minds to it. Every artistic type I’ve worked with can get things done. Can focus, in fact, can hyper focus.

It’s just that given our druthers we’ve rather gorge ourselves on all those lovely ideas.

So, next time you think  you have ADD, think again.

Maybe you’re just wired differently.

And, just maybe, that’s a damn good thing!