Journaling with ADHD: Has anyone else... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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Journaling with ADHD

stingray_lover profile image

Has anyone else found it hard to journal with ADHD? I have tried to do it in the past but never liked it. I tried writing poetry and loved it but dropped the hobby because of my horrible attention span. I want to start actual journaling because I do not think writing poetry is the best format to get what I want say on paper. I have also tried prompts but I never liked them necessarily either because it was not something I wanted to journal about. I have tried journaling recently and the issue I am having is that there is so much that I want to say but my hand cannot keep up. Any advice or stories that you have would be greatly appreciated!

16 Replies

I have this issue but opposite, I sit down to write and I have no idea what to put on the paper so I just make a list of random things.

JLBowman profile image
JLBowman in reply to Kisuzilla

Random things aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

I’ve had many false starts with journaling over the last 25 years or so. Even bullet journaling, which was designed for adhd. I think my problem has been that I haven’t journaled for myself- but for what I think people expect. There are so many things I need to keep track of: Routines and goals, introspection, recipes and notes to myself, brain dumps. I’m working through it and I’m a lot closer to developing a system that’s tailored to me. I think that’s the key.

I think that is what I have been doing too, I tried bullet journaling but I kept focusing on what lists and topics I wanted to have in it. Then I was burnt out after that and never journaled in it.

Hi! I think JLBowman had some good thoughts and a fair amount of experience over the course of 25 years. I too have been journaling on and off for most of my life; and I'm 50'ish. Avoid perfectionist tendencies. At work, I use bullet journaling to keep my deadlines, time sheets, and priorities under control. For personal use, I started with the prompts of monk journaling, which have morphed into a series of prompts based upon: 1) whatever ADHD skills I am currently working through; and 2) from The Happiness Lab podcast with Lori Santos and her Coursera course, "The Science of Well Being". I have used typing as a method to keep up with my brain, as I am a very fast typist, which is especially helpful when I am upset with someone or myself; and need to vent without actually harming the relationship or my own wellbeing (prosecutor v defense attorney). Harness your creativity and when you get bored with a format, change it up, write a poem, or draw a picture! Writing for me is a tool for processing emotions, (right headed and wrong headed) and finding concise and productive ways to articulate them for myself and those around me. A bulleted gratitude list can make all the difference at the end of a long day. Doodling or drawing circles over and over again can sooth an anxious heart. Buy a nice pen or two (in case you misplace one).

I never considered typing for a journaling format. I will definitely give that a try, thank you!

I always want to journal-I have the ideas in my head that I want to write down and think they are important enough to write. But, then when I go to write them, they disappear and I cannot write anything.

So I understand. It's very difficult.

Exactly what happens to me. The same with making to-do lists. Sit down to make the list and I end up with one thing on it: make to-do list.

I have the exact same issue as you both there, but I've learnt to us my phone to immediately jot down that one thing I was thinking to add to the list. Essentially prioritizing that one thought whenever possible. Obviously it can't happen every time but it has helped a bit.

Hi 👋 this is Shnookie. When I Journal it’s about my emotions, fears, ADHD and my anxiety, depression issues, huge issues in my life. I bought a journal 📓 that isn’t too large. Sometimes, I write, quarter or half a page it depends how I am feeling. Sometimes I skip a few days. I have a lot going on in my life now, so I’m trying to journal almost every day. I’m here for You. Hugs 🤗 S


In case of TL:DR, skip to the bottom =D

I can totally empathize with what you're saying about your hand not being able to keep up. I've used journals on and off throughout my life, for different reasons. Oftentimes, I do end up with the same basic type of journal. The reality only sometimes matches the romantic idea that I conjure in my head, but it has been helpful nonetheless.

When I journal, I've mostly been doing it for myself to get things down so that I can understand and remember them. Where and when I journal can be a big factor. I often have romantic ideas of having a cool old journal all written in cursive and filled with nice language and regular, coherent entries. However, when I have a lot to get down and I'm excited or worried that I'll lose it then I can easily end up with sloppy, fast paced, hyper-focused and rambling out-pours akin to a stream of consciousness. Sometimes I'll do journaling in cursive with a nice bound journal, a fountain pen, and poetic language. Other times I can get something much different.

Regarding your struggle with thoughts coming faster than you can get them down, how fast can you type? I think that typically, people can type a lot faster than they can write something by hand. I find something much more real about handwriting things, but there are often trade-offs, I suppose.

I have journaled with a voice-recorder, one I'd gotten for recording class in school and tried some video journaling. They had different strengths. Video journaling conveyed more with less time, but was more easily distracting to make and watch. Audio was super easy to record, but like pulling my own teeth with how slow it felt listening to it. In the end, I've returned to written and typed journals time and time again.

I find that with typing, I tend to really brain dump, since I can just get stuff out so much faster. With handwriting, I can end up thinking so many thoughts while writing just one or 2 words, but that isn't always the case and sometimes I can even use writing things by hand as a locus for my thoughts, helping me stay on topic better.

TL;DR - All in all, I'd say try out different methods and think about why you are journaling. Is it to organize your thoughts, preserve them, create a neat piece of art, or something else? While I wouldn't say that it's impossible to do all of those at once, I'd consider prioritizing them.

Are you struggling with starting at all, staying on topic, or getting things out as fast as your thoughts? You might consider picking a theme for the entry, writing the entry as if it is to somebody, or word dumping until you get flowing, with different methods like typing, recording, text to speech, or something else you discover.

I'm sorry this was wandering and long, but I hope it helps =P

It is great to know that there are people out there that have the same struggle of keeping up with their thoughts. I can definitely relate to the thought of a nice, picturesque journal. That is why I have been lenient to try typing even though I can type pretty fast. I think I get in my own head about that. Like everyone else can keep a handwritten journal if they want to, why can't I? I have also heard that just the act of writing out things that are on your mind can improve stress levels and other things as well. Thank you for your response, it really helped!

From my form journals never worked for me. Like you just ends up as a meaningless random mess of thoughts. What really worked were structured Journals....think of a format, or find one on the internet and stick to it. Here's a loose categorization of my Journal entries

1. Stuff I accomplished today

2. Stuff I'm putting off for the next day

3. Important Lesssons learnt

4. Things I'm grateful for

5. How the day made me feel

I like this idea. Every one can customize it based on what they want to journal about or what they deem important. I do have a question though, all of the categories you mentioned, do you write all of them in the same entry? Or is it just more of a what you think is important for that specific time? I like to try and understand the thought process behind recommendations on my posts. :)

well i try to address all of them, especially sections like "what i'm grateful for"....but on some days, some items get left out if there's nothing relevant in that section to write about

Hi sl ~speech to text, or typing like mentioned above for fast journaling sounds great. Journaling you can do whatever your heart desires. It completely you for you! Never think you haaavve to do it any particular way or all the same way. Who cares about scratch outs, only make it legible so you can reread it when you want to. You could also turn scratch outs into pictures scribbles if you want. Let it be fun. I'm currently doing a very simplified bullet journal using pen. Not doing complete layouts and very tiny bit of prep. More a do as I go. I'm really giving myself more freedom. You can also print what you type of speech to text and paste your pages in. For me I'm learning if I make mine portable and want to have it with me all the time, then when even small thoughts occur I write them down so I'm not losing though thoughts that I'm excited about. Whatever you decide make it your own your own way. Excited for your journaling journey! EE

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