Working Around the Inertia of an Autistic Writing Brain
I have a long list of essay ideas. Anytime I get a new essay idea, which is usually 2-5 times a day, I handwrite it in my journal. By the time I finish a journal, my list of ideas is usually 2-3 pages long.
So you can imagine how long the list would be if I added all of my lists in each journal together. I even tried to do that once, and put them in this essay: Everything I Didn’t Write About.
If you’re familiar with my writing at all, you may wonder how it is possible for me to have so many unused essay ideas when I already write so much. In the past year alone, I wrote over 360 essays.
Here’s the key: I work around the inertia.
An autistic brain likes clarity. It wants to know what to expect, how long something is going to take, and where it’s going to go.
Sometimes I have essay topics that I know will take research or further brainstorming to ensure I backup all of my points well. I feel a great deal of inertia with these essays because I have no idea how long that will take and how much effort will be involved. It’s why I don’t write academic essays backed with research. That shit takes too long and bores the hell out of me.
So my workaround is writing about my life. I write about my personal experiences as an autistic person and therapist who specializes in late-identified autism. These essays come pouring right out of my mind onto the page. For example, my essay about How I Used to Feel Broken Before I Knew I Was Autistic.
My other workaround is to dedicate a page in my journal to a difficult essay topic. Whenever I think of supporting evidence or additional points I want to make about that topic, I jot them down. Eventually, there is enough there to make writing about that topic much easier. This is what I did for my essay 6 Reasons Unmasking is Harder Than it Sounds.
My other strategy is time and synchronicity. Alright, they’re not really strategies I can control, but they’re things I use to my advantage. Once I write an essay topic idea on my list of ideas, I generally move on with my life. I’ll get reminded of it whenever I review my list to see if there’s something I want to write about. Sometimes, I’ve had enough new life experience that I have new inspiration and energy to write about the topic. Other times, I have an interaction with a client or friend that reminds me how important it is to write about a particular subject. The fact that other people are interested in it is enough motivation for me sometimes. This is how I eventually sat down to write the essay on 9 Reasons Trauma and Autism are so Similar.
I also make sure to have a good writing routine. I structure my daily life so that my most creative hours are free for me to write. For me, that means having mornings to myself. I also find that it is far easier to write when I do it daily. There’s something about that momentum that keeps my brain in the space of writing. To keep me in the momentum of writing, I let myself write about things that are particularly easy, like when I write letters to emotions. They’re quick and fun, and keep me writing.
My last strategy is going where the energy takes me. So what if I don’t get to that essay topic afterall? My writing is far better when I write about things I’m excited about. The energy comes through my writing and my mind is galvanized with unique points and ideas. This means I have to accept that some essay topics will forever remain on my essay list as I move on to new and exciting ideas. That is ok. For it’s far better than the inertia of nothing.
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