April 21 2023

Style: Minimalism

Okay, I’ve decided the game

It’s going to be a choice of style. I’m struggling with two huge limits as a result of my current writing style: 1) my ability to focus because of the ADHD, and 2) my ability to read with my vision limitations. I need to make this easier on myself, and the support tools that I have at the moment are not enough. So what is the next direction?

Minimalism in style.

For one, it’s a challenge. It asks my brain to look at everything in a completely different way as a writer, and that’s something my brain enjoys. There’s a game in there. There’s a game with a desired outcome that can be measured.

This means there will be less decision fatigue because I’ll be moving toward a desired outcome instead of feeling like I have so few limits, that I have to spread out in all directions.

Less words means less editing. Editing is where I’m struggling the most because of the requirement to read as part of editing. It’s an acceptance of the difficulty involved with my executive dysfunctions and visual impairments, which is a healthier way to move forward. There’s less self-ableism when I’m making things easier on myself based on my limits, instead of fighting limits that can’t be changed.

Ideally, it will be less time-consuming — but there’s no guarantee of that, and that’s not necessarily a goal I’m looking for.

I suppose when looking at writing as self-publishing, the measurement of time is quite important. The faster it is to get from the conception of the product to the publishing and income reception of that product is absolutely important. But I’m not in a race right now. I’m in the experiment and understanding phase of everything. These metrics might become important later on, but they are easily abused into something self ablest if I’m not careful, and therefore aren’t a goal for me at the moment.

My goal right now is to be able to have a completed story with the least amount of pain, but one I can still feel proud of. With the requirement of keeping my mind engaged. And these issues are really what kill my time, if I want to get into the whole measurement of what it’s been taking to get me to complete this writing process for one basic story.

Time sucks

Time is taken away because of allergies, which slow my cognition, and flare executive dysfunction, making my attention span even shorter than its default.

A lack of schedule allows for every random thing to become a distraction, instead of something put aside in its own time block away from my writing time block.

The requirement to read as part of the organizational process of writing. I’m treating this with my support tool editor, creating visual blocks that the text falls into, so that I can focus on the purpose of each block, leaving notes to myself to help keep that focus. But this is still time consuming.

I know it’ll grow easier as I become familiar with my new process — I’ve literally designed it with this in mind. But right now I’m in the phase of training my brain, which can be extremely arduous because of my executive dysfunctions. Once I learn something, it’s second nature (when not ill), but the learning process can be difficult. Especially when learning through text. Reading is taxing on me, the focus it requires, especially when every small detail is important with writing.

I didn’t realize how much my brain filled in text that I hadn’t read. It leaps. It glosses over entire sentences and paragraphs, and just fills things in. I suppose I’m lucky that it’s usually filling things in the correct way, until I find myself faced with a set of instructions that I can’t focus on, and I realize the extreme limits of my brain’s inability to hold attention to text.

There is so much time lost in this battle to keep my brain focused. And that my allergies are so intricately connected to my brain’s ability to focus only makes it all the more frustrating. So, a game. A game where I’m not focused on the stakes or the frustration, but instead I’m leaning into the path of least resistance. With a goal that keeps my brain interested enough that it won’t automatically fuck off like it usually does when reading.

And maybe it’s time to go back to listening to text to edit as part of this process, but I’m not a great audio learner. It’s still really difficult to focus. I’m a good visual summary learner, taking concepts as a whole and organizing them while ignoring the unnecessary details. But this is writing, where every letter is a necessary detail, so I’m kind of shit out of luck in that regard.

Perfectionism as a coping tool to trauma

I miss writing short stories that are actually short. I miss being able to have an idea that doesn’t have the exhausting requirement to flesh it into something so much larger. I’d like to be able to get back to that, and I know part of why I can’t right now is that I’m stuck in the neurosis of perfectionism.

I’m putting a lot of self value into my ability to write at the moment. I think it’s normal for what I’ve been through. Writing is one of those measurable things that can tell me my brain is working after the last decade of really messed up cognition and health, along with all the fear that went into not having control over what was happening to me. The neurosis right now is just these little self checks asking “is my brain still working?” “Is it happening again?” “Am I going to disappear into this invisible illness, and have it all cascade out of control once again?”

As much as I keep reminding myself the trauma that occurs with long-term chronic illness, I haven’t really addressed it much in my day-to-day beyond trying not to be so self ablest. Getting to this point of getting to say I “overcame” chronic illness is rare, impossible, and it never fully feels real.

It’s surreal after a decade of struggle — fighting invisible, microscopic enemies floating on a breeze — to be handed an answer. To be asked to perceive my existence, in what was once such an unsafe world, from a place of safety. And until I can feel a little more certain with my health, I don’t think anything that I do in the world is going to feel genuine and insignificant. Instead, it’s just another way of measuring if the illness is still gone, if my brain is still working, or do I need to act immediately to prevent everything from spiraling out of control all over again.

Redefining minimalism as a style

I’m going to have to remember what minimalism is. How it’s effective writing, instead of sketchy writing. I think a part of me is worried that to become minimal with my word count is to become lazy as a writer. Because when I first started writing and making short stories, I was minimal because my brain literally couldn’t be anything else. It couldn’t focus, couldn’t see its inability to create effective visuals and mood. And I was just so fucking tired all the time that anything was good enough. Any amount of words was proof I was alive and my brain was doing something.

Which is probably why I’ve been avoiding short form writing since recovering a lot of my cognition. At some point I associated brevity with inflammation of the brain — because trauma is damn frustrating like that.

So yay, I get to learn something. I get to challenge myself. And through that process of self-improvement, I’ll also be editing, writing, making my life easier based on my limits, and getting closer to feeling safe as a self published writer again. I’m interested to see how it’ll go, which is already a good sign that my brain is engaged in this new game.