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Finding a Creative Outlet With ADHD

Here’s something I think every ADHDer should try: a creative hobby of some kind.

For me, my main creative outlets are playing and writing music, but the range of creative hobbies you can try is limitless, from writing to drawing and photography to crafting.

Although creative projects can be a fun way for anyone to relax, there’s something about the way the ADHD brain works that seems an especially good fit to any hobby involving some kind of creative process.

DrawingThe thing about creative activities is that they’re open-ended, and you have room to go in whatever direction your impulses take you. When you’re creating something new, taking off in an unexpected direction isn’t getting distracted, it’s just having a moment of inspiration!

If you’re like most ADHDers, you do many things in daily life that aren’t open-ended in this way. I mean, OK, everyday tasks such as grocery shopping can be a little open-ended, but if you get too creative with them, the results probably won’t be what you intended!

By contrast, if you have a creative hobby, you have a space where you can let go of the feeling of struggling to keep your brain on track. You can follow wherever your impulses, your sudden ideas, your tangential thoughts, and your stream of consciousness lead you. You’re also engaged in an activity that gives you constant feedback and, if it’s something you enjoy, an ongoing sense of reward.

Put all that together, and you have a combination that’s refreshing for the ADHD brain – therapeutic, even!

There’s some research that suggests people with ADHD tend to excel in certain creative tasks, such as brainstorming. See, for example, the interview I did a while back with Dr. Holly White, who studies this topic.

But the nice thing about doing something creative as a hobby is that you don’t even have to be good at it to get a lot out of it! In fact, discovering a new creative interest as a beginner can be one of the most enjoyable phases of having a creative hobby – whether that’s through taking a sculpting class, starting a journal to write about different things, or deciding you’re going to make a scrapbook!

Setting aside time for a creative hobby can more than pay off. Self-care makes you better at everything else you do in life, and for ADHDers, having a creative outlet can be an effective type of self-care. If you have any suggestions of creative activities that have worked for you, please leave them in the comments!

Image: Flickr/byronv2

Finding a Creative Outlet With ADHD

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2020). Finding a Creative Outlet With ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 31 Jan 2020
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