Staff Blog: What my Writing Routine Looks Like as a Neurodivergent Writer by Megan Lee


In honor of Neurodiversity Celebration Month, 

Roadmap Writers is hosting our first ever Neurodiversity Celebration Initiative, coming to you in the form of informative blogs and a FREE 2-day special webinar series, our Neurodiversity Celebration Panels on April 30th and May 1st, 2024. 

Day 1 will cover Writing with Neurodivergence, including the state of neurodivergent representation in Hollywood, writing neurodiverse characters, and tips for writing habits and "anti" routines. We'll bring in working writers like "This Way to Change: A Gentle Guide to Personal Transformation and Collective Liberation" author Jezz Chung and Roadmap Writers Success Stories like Noa Aimee and Pandora Tysdale to discuss. 

Day 2 hits on Networking with Neurodivergence, and will include navigating interpersonal relationships, handling rejection, finding your network and pitching your POV with more Roadmap Writers Success Stories, including Aadip Desai (THE GOLDBERGS), Roadmap Writers Head of Twitter Gabriel Theis (Repped at Industry Entertainment) as well as Citizen Skull literary manager Jacob Hayman, Cedar93 Co-founder and producer Sam Schifrien and others. 


Among Day 1's panelists includes Megan Lee, Roadmap Writers' Access Programs Coordinator, who is our guest blogger for today: 

I’m Neurodivergent. There are many people who seem to think that’s some kind of tragedy I’ve had to overcome. Or that being disabled is some kind of terrible truth never to be acknowledged. Really, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, there are struggles. But spoiler alert: neurotypical and nondisabled people also face struggles they have to work through. Absolutely, mind-blowingly shocking, I know.

I’ll give you a moment to process that (Really, you’re going to just have to pause reading until you’re done, but don’t take too long).

You back? Okay, here’s the other thing about me: I’m a writer. I basically came out of the womb that way. As a neurodivergent writer, I do things a little differently to get the most out of my writing routine. Lock in, friends, because I’m about to hyperfocus like nobody's business:

Getting Started

I think the beginning of any project is the hardest part. Getting inspired is fun, but when it’s time to turn that inspiration into a script, things start to get tricky. I’m sure you’re just as aware as I am that creating an entire world, and then a story to fit within that world, is difficult. In the disability community, there’s a concept called Spoon Theory. In the simplest possible explanation, Spoon Theory refers to a way to measure the energy it takes to complete tasks. The point is, planning a new project takes a lot of spoons.

This is where hyperfixation is my friend. I lean into the work and let myself be fully engrossed by the project. I make myself (my friend, who's much better at it, makes me) Spotify playlists, meticulously curate… pinterest boards, and daydream like my life depends on it. One thing I’ve learned being neurodivergent: I cannot will away being overwhelmed and the more I make myself wrong or try to fight what I’m feeling, the worse things get.


Now this is where things get fun. I absolutely love watching my ideas come to life when I start writing the script. While I enjoy setting the groundwork up until this point, this is the step of the process that really shines for me.  But it’s also the point where the story moves from theoretical to all too real. It’s very easy for me to get overwhelmed.

There are a few tricks I’ve learned that optimize the writing process for me. For one thing, I avoid breaking up my flow AT ALL COSTS. I read a tip years ago that has perfectly worked for this. When I can’t think of the word I want to use, I instead write “ELEPHANT” and move on. I can come back to it later and spend the time to find the right word once I’ve gotten the draft down on paper. Usually, by the time I do go back, the word comes to me fairly quickly.

Except now I can't stop thinking about an elephant

                                                                                                      Now I'm just thinking about an elephant. 

You may be familiar with the term “sensory overload." If not, it means being overwhelmed by senses. (Who would've guessed, right?). I am very familiar with this experience. More familiar than I want to be, really. But I’ve realized something. If I have this much of a sensitivity to my sensory surroundings, I can also take steps to curate my senses to my advantage. Indeed I can. Music is one of my favorite sensory tools. I’ve got a ton of writing playlists that are specific to each of the projects I’m working on. If I’m struggling to focus, I’ll throw on a playlist of film scores to zone in. I like to put on earphones and have my music loud enough to block out any other auditory inputs, also so I feel encompassed by the music.

Another way I use my senses when I write is by writing things down with pen and paper. I don’t know what it is, but the feeling of writing with pen and paper, that gentle pressure, the slight scritching noise, helps me work through ideas like nothing else. I also write in cursive because it forces me to pay closer attention to what I’m doing. It’s all too easy to get distracted with ADHD, but I’ve learned that I can reduce that by offering my brain enough stimulation that it doesn’t go searching for more on its own. Writing in cursive is just enough simulation when paired with writing out ideas to keep me on target, without tampering my ability to think creatively. 


Now it’s not like my rewriting routine is all that different from the writing routine I just talked about. But there are a couple of things I do once I get to rewriting that I think are worth mentioning.

First things first, what rewriting looks like for me. I don’t edit my drafts, I open up a new document and write them all over again every time. Yes, even when a script gets into double-digit drafts. I certainly didn’t come up with this technique, but it’s been a game changer for me. By rewriting, I can’t allow myself to just skim through. I have to be conscious of every word. I catch so many more spelling and grammar mistakes, but I also realize I want to make changes that I had no idea about until I started writing.

I’m something of a pattern recognition machine. As I work through each new draft, I catch onto my own patterns and my own little quirks as a writer. Sometimes I like those things and sometimes they’re things I need to improve on. I have grown so much as a writer because of this. I also use that same pattern recognition, in conjunction with the experience of writing hundreds of pages of literary analysis, when I read scripts to help me understand what exactly works, or doesn’t. When I first started writing scripts, I got very caught up in the rules (Hello, I’m Autistic) and it made my writing feel very formulaic. Then, I read a script that did something interesting with the action and it clicked for me that the rules were guidelines but they weren’t the end-all-be-all and certainly not the only things to consider when writing. A flip switched for me then and changed my writing for the best.

Here’s what it boils down to…

I’m neurodivergent. I can’t change that, even if I wanted to. The way I see the world allows me to write stories no one else can. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that if I want to achieve my best, I have to accommodate myself. The reality is that we live in a world designed for neurotypicals, and so I’ve worked to find ways to design my life and the things I can control, for me.

Celebrating who I am makes me a better writer, better creative, and generally a better human to myself, and the people around me.

-Megan Lee, Roadmap Writers Access Programs Coordinator


About Megan Lee: Born and raised in sunny South Florida, Megan is a graduate from UCF with her BA in English Creative Writing and a minor in Mass Culture and Collective Behavior. A life spent sneaking books under her covers past bedtime made it clear to Megan that she would one day become a writer herself, but it wasn't until a college screenwriting workshop that she discovered her true love lies in screenwriting. Megan dove head first into this new medium, spending a summer with the RoadCrew as an intern and then as a reader. Being neurodivergent, Megan has developed an ardent fascination with human behavior as she studied the people around her, which is why she now writes character-driven comedies that ask what it means to be human—and how to forgive ourselves for it. Megan is passionate about bringing impactful stories to life and wants to help other writers do the same.


Editor’s note: Reading and joke pitching off of this is so much fun as a neurodivergent writer. I credit my ADHD with my ability to connect dissimilar things to create a joke. Thanks for giving me so much to bounce off of, Megan! -RP

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