How I wrote a book while being neurodivergent – Sarah E Boon

2023 has been a bit of a rollercoaster year to say the least! (Although most of the chaos stemmed from 2022, and rolled over into this year). During all the chaos I finally finished writing my first book! It is currently being fine tuned by the editors, ready for publication in 2024! Once the publication date has been firmly set in stone, I will be sharing with you all on here. 

But in the meantime, I thought it is important to talk about how I actually managed to write a book, as the disabling side of my neurodivergence does make writing a lot more challenging compared to most, especially with dyslexia being part of that picture too! So how the hell did I do it being an autistic ADHDer (AuDHDer) who is dyslexic too? Well several things helped made it possible. 


If it was a few decades ago, I would not have been able to write a book at all. Modern technology has helped with this immensely and makes writing accessible to me. Although far from perfect, spell checkers on word documents do help pick on the most obvious spelling and grammar typos. However, spell checkers alone are not the full solution in turning my words into a coherent book that others can actually understand! Once I had written a paragraph, I also used text to speech technology, where the words on my screen were read aloud by the computer. The advantage of this is I can hear out loud if a sentence doesn’t make sense or if I have written my words in all the wrong order. This way it makes it possible to correct the mistakes that my neurodivergence makes it hard to spot or notice. So when the editors and others read my book for the first time, they actually know what I am trying to say, rather than it being a complete guessing game! A common problem I had when I was younger, especially in school where I rarely had access to the technology I needed to develop my writing abilities. 

Dictation software on computers can also make a huge difference, as I can say the words out loud as if I was having a conversation, and the computer types what I say, so it removes the difficulties that I have with structuring sentences when typing/writing (in theory). However, dictation software still has a long way to go to being accurate enough for me to use it all the time. Also sometimes I was having to correct the mistakes the computer made when using dictation more than if I had just typed what I was saying anyway. If dictation software improves then I would have spoken my whole book using the software, rather than using a combination of typing and speaking into my computer. I really do hope this technology develops, as I can see it opening a lot of doors for some neurodivergent and disabled people to be able to write!

Using my hyperfocus to my advantage 

When my brain would allow and had the ability to hyperfocus, I would use that time to write. Sometimes I could write a lot more compared to a normal or bad day. When I was able to hyperfocus I ran with it and used it to my advantage whilst it lasted! Unfortunately, hyperfocusing is not something that is there all of the time (as if it was, I would have written the book in no time), and there were some days (well….maybe a lot of days…..) where I set myself goals with writing and I was unable to meet them. The thing is with writing a book, it is a marathon, not a sprint. There are times where it feels like an uphill battle to write a whole book, and on the days where I was unable to write as much as I wanted, I had to accept today was not that day to get it done or force myself to write. Being able to hyperfocus was able to make up for the times when I had writer’s block, or was unable to put my ideas on paper. 

I will also admit, my original deadline for the manuscript was pushed back twice in true ADHD style. However, this was partly due to life getting in the way (with injuries,moving home, and changing jobs). I did not have the executive functioning abilities to manage the amount of multi-tasking required when life threw me some additional challenges while writing the book.I also I knew there were times I could not force my brain to write, and if I did it would have done too much harm to my own well-being and mental health. Having my publisher being flexible with the deadline did make a difference in being able to hand in a complete manuscript. 

Challenging my own Imposters’ Syndrome

Although I had written long pieces of writing before at university, the length was nothing in comparison to a whole book! I felt both excited and daunted about writing a book. I wasn’t sure it was even possible at first, and that I just blagged myself a book deal without the ability to follow through (spoiler alert – I was wrong!). Although I felt strongly with what I was writing about and was motivated, how on earth was I actually going to do it? I definitely experienced imposter syndrome around this, especially with being one of the dyslexic kids back in school. I was no stranger to receiving a significant amount of criticism of my writing abilities (that wasn’t constructive) and was made to feel like I couldn’t pursue any options in life that involved a lot of writing. 

The first thing that helped was setting out my structure before I started writing with the support from others involved with publishing my book. We agreed on a vague outline which did really help – as structuring my ideas is sometimes the biggest challenge I face when writing. That made it easier to break down the amount I needed to write into realistic chunks (similar to the amount I would have written for a uni assignment in the past). From breaking down the amount I had to write for a whole book, I realised that ‘I need to write several assignments, and these assignments put together will be the whole book’. 

My book is not an academic one, but using my past experiences of writing while at uni really helped me to see it was possible and move on from the idea of “I would never be able to write something as long as a book”. So many people say this, and I believed I was one of these people for most of my life, until I actually did it/got very close to my final word count. And to some extent I still believed this at the start of this journey. However, I am so pleased that I proved myself wrong and I was able to write a book. This was possible due to having access to the right technology, support from others, and drive to write about something I feel passionately about. 

Although no neurodivergent person and our needs will be identical, I still felt it was worth sharing how I managed to work around the writing challenges I have due to my neurodivergence to be able to write a book. I hope that some of the things I have shared here will be of use to fellow neurodivergent people who want to write, but find it difficult due to the disabling parts of their neurodivergence. 

If you enjoyed this post and like to support my writing, I would be forever grateful if you could buy me a coffee (or tea in my case).


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