There are people who say that having ADHD makes you creative. And there are those who say that that hasn’t been proven. And there are those who say that ADHD creativity is a myth.
I say that creativity is a matter of creating. And creating requires you to be able to concentrate on the process. And concentration on a single process is what is known as focus.
Having ADHD is pretty much the opposite of being able to focus, at least on things that you choose to focus on. “But we have hyperfocus.” I hear you saying. And yes, there are times when we can zone in on something But Dr. Charles Barkley suggests that “hyperfocus” is the wrong name for that.
He says it should be referred to as “perseverance”. To paraphrase, he suggests that what we call hyperfocus is the persistence of the mind to concentrate on something, whether or not the point of our concentration is what we should be directing our attention toward.
The crux of the matter is that we don’t get to choose what we are concentrating on, therefore it isn’t focus, but persistent distraction, or as Dr. Barkley says, perseverance.
That’s true. But I wanted to review it before I said the thing I’m really interested in passing on today.
Creativity is more than just creating something. It is creating something you are passionate about.
And passion is more than just love of something, it is an all consuming love, a love you can set aside temporarily, but never cast off, never let go of. And that passion is the kind of thing that forces our minds to hyperfocus, forces our minds into perseverance if you will.
So I suggest that, while there are no studies that indicate that people with ADHD are more creative, and while there may not be any such thing as hyperfocus, there also may not be any truth to the idea that we aren’t creative.
And whether we call it hyperfocus or perseverance is really not relevant, if the result is that we are able to ignore the wolf at the door and the barn being on fire and just put our heads down and work on what we are passionate about.
So when they tell you that having ADHD doesn’t mean you can hyperfocus, tell them that they don’t get to decide that until they have ADHD.
And when they say that having ADHD doesn’t mean you are creative, tell them “Shut up! I’m persevering the hell out of this piece of creativity!”
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Last reviewed: 3 Aug 2014