Develop your talents through new experiences

“Odd, isn't it, how, as they gain experience, the senses become blunted. One must keep them up by making a game of it, like the boy, Kim, in Kipling. Do you enjoy Kipling?”
-A Study in Sherlock, “You’d Better Go in Disguise” by Alan Bradley (pg. 5).
In writing, as in life, a valuable practice to continue to develop yourself and your craft. My hands constantly spider away at my keyboard, be they writing or scouring GoodReads.com for a new batch of books to order.

In my first Seven Deadly Sins post: Envy vs. Self-Awareness, I describe the importance of self-observation. Personal awareness can help you overcome private hurdles by calling attention to what you’re feeling. I have journals full of observations that dredge up difficult situations or questions I wrestled with years earlier. I occasionally return to these to understand where I’ve been and how I’ve grown, or not. Tuck the lessons you’ve learned into your back pocket and take them with you on your daily life.

The first of many books I devoured.

As frequently as you turn inward, however, you must open yourself outward, to new experiences, inspiration, and teachings. They say that observation is key to being a writer, of the self and the other. What keeps me inspired and my senses sharp (as opposed to “blunted”) is continually ingesting new material. Those of us with ADHD, understand how stimulation affects our daily lives. It is our drive. Even whilst studying my favorite authors (ahem. Of course, Alan Bradley’s quote tops this blog post), I soon turn my attention to another’s work, else my attention and capacity to learn wanes.

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, explains how it takes 10,000 hours of concentration to master any skill. For those of us with ADHD, that can seem like a lifetime. If I backtrack ten years+ to my writing and reading skills and settle myself into that girl’s shoes, I find myself gaping up in horror at the towers of books, the stacks of notebooks / journals, and the piles of computers before me. 10,000 hours seems unconquerable, but when approached with a playful ADHD mind, we can turn a chore into a game. The key, as Bradley observes through Sherlock’s eyes, is to sharpen the senses. Read new authors. Explore new cultures. Watch strange movies. Meet new people.

In life, as in writing, we must “make a game of it” and test the waters of new experiences, else we fall prey to habit and stagnate. Often, discomfort and uncertainty are signs of personal development.

For another article on trying new things, see Psychology Today’s column: Happiness in this World: Reflections of a Buddhist Physician by Alex Lickerman, M.D.