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Faster Than Normal - The ADHD Podcast

Having ADD or ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Hear from people all around the globe, from every walk of life, in every profession, from Rock Stars to CEOs, from Teachers to Politicians, who have learned how to unlock the gifts of their ADD and ADHD diagnosis, and use it to their personal and professional advantage, to build businesses, become millionaires, or simply better their lives.
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Oct 13, 2021

I want to thank you for listening and for subscribing to Faster Than Normal! I also want to tell you that if you’re listening to this one, you probably listened to other episodes as well. Because of you all, we are the number one ADHD podcast on the internet!! And if you like us, you can sponsor an episode! Head over to https://rally.io/creator/SHANK/ It is a lot cheaper than you think. You'll reach... about 25k to 30,000 people in an episode and get your name out there, get your brand out there, your company out there, or just say thanks for all the interviews! We’ve brought you over 230 interviews of CEOs, celebrities, musicians, all kinds of rock stars all around the world from Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Keith Krach from DocuSign, Danny Meyer, we've had Rachel Cotton, we've had  the band Shinedown, right? Tons and tons of interviews, and we keep bringing in new ones every week so head over to https://rally.io/creator/SHANK/ make it yours, we'd love to have you, thanks so much for listening!  Now to this week's episode, we hope you enjoy it!

——

E. J. Wenstrom believes in complicated heroes, horrifying monsters, purple hair dye and standing to the right on escalators so the left side can walk. She writes dark speculative fiction for adults and teens, including the young adult dystopian novel Departures and the award-winning Chronicles of the Third Realm War series (start with Mud). When she isn’t writing fiction, E. J. Wenstrom is a regular contributor to DIY MFA and BookRiot, and co-hosts the Fantasy+Girl Podcast. Start the Chronicles of the Third Realm War series for free with the prequel novella when you join E.J.’s newsletter. Today we learn the specific techniques with which she wields her ADHD superpowers, maintaining a career as a multi-genre creative author! This is awesome- enjoy!

In this episode Peter and EJ Wenstrom discuss:  

2:17 - Intro and welcome EJ!  Ref: Start “The Chronicles of The Third Realm War” for free with a link HERE

3:42 - Thank you Lori for introducing us!

4:00 - So you are ADHD yourself, when did you get diagnosed & what was life like before it?

6:56 - As a professional writer; how are you managing your deadlines, especially working on your own?  Ref: @5amWritersClub on Twitter

10:56 - So tell me about how you're getting your dopamine, especially when you get up at 5am and get pretty much straight to writing?

12:08 - How do you switch roles from say..writing for a PR firm, then for Fantasy Fiction. What’s the switch in your brain’s mindset?

13:56 - Tell us about your novel Departures! And what was/is your process!?

17:35 - How can people find you? https://www.ejwenstrom.com or at @EJWenstrom on Twitter  INSTA  Facebook and newly on TikTok And links to all of her books are here

19:00 - Thank you EJ Wenstrom!  Guys, as always, we are here for you and we love the responses and the notes that we get from you; so please continue to do that! Tell us who you want to hear on the podcast, anything at all; we’d love to know.  Leave us a review on any of the places you get your podcasts, and if you ever need our help I'm www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via peter@shankman.com or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse! 

19:55 - Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits

TRANSCRIPT: 

I want to thank you for listening and for subscribing to Faster Than Normal! I also want to tell you that if you’re listening to this one, you probably listened to other episodes as well. Because of you all, we are the number one ADHD podcast on the internet!! And if you like us, you can sponsor an episode! Head over to https://rally.io/creator/SHANK/ It is a lot cheaper than you think. You'll reach... about 25k to 30,000 people in an episode and get your name out there, get your brand out there, your company out there, or just say thanks for all the interviews! We’ve brought you over 230 interviews of CEOs, celebrities, musicians, all kinds of rock stars all around the world from Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Keith Krach from DocuSign, Danny Meyer, we've had Rachel Cotton, we've had  the band Shinedown, right? Tons and tons of interviews, and we keep bringing in new ones every week so head over to https://rally.io/creator/SHANK/ make it yours, we'd love to have you, thanks so much for listening!  Now to this week's episode, we hope you enjoy it!

Okay. Everybody, Zoom's little computer woman just told me that recording is in progress, which means that we are here for another episode of Faster Than Normal. Thank you so much for joining me. I am in a super hyped up mood today. Uh, what wound up me being like starting, just to take my daughter to school this morning, we somehow wound up walking the three miles to school, uh, with the dog, and then I dropped the dog off at doggy daycare.. or storage as I call it, and I walked back. So I'm six miles in this morning and a high as a kite from that. So enjoy this dopamine fueled episode of Faster Than Normal!

We have an amazing guest today, I know I said it all the time but this person, this is really cool. EJ Wenstrom is here. She's an award winning author. Why is she an award winning Author? We’ll we'll talk about that but Listen to this: “One, girl, one angel three, God's determined to keep them apart! A stormy and seductive novella that will draw you into an elaborate fantasy world.. and it's a series. This shit is awesome. Reviewers love her: “Mimicking the brutal and strange of ancient mythology alongside the high fantasy and gut wrenching actions”, says Reader’s Lane, while Literary Hill says: “In the third realm, perils await, but anything is possible and readers who venture, there will find a rewarding escape into a very creative and fully imagined world.” EJ believes in complicated heroes, horrifying monsters, Purple hair dye and standing to the right on escalators so that the left side can walk. God bless you for that. Yes. She writes dark speculative fiction for adults and teens, including the young dystopian novel Departures where the lead character or one of the characters has ADHD. I think it just gave something away. And the award winning Chronicles, a third realm series, starting with Mud when she isn't writing fiction. Ed wants some, she’s just regular contributor to DIY MFA and book riot. She co-hosts the fantasy girl podcast. Start “The Chronicles of The Third Realm War” for free with a link HERE:  We're going to put down below with her prequel novella, but holy cow, it is exciting to talk to you. EJ, welcome to Faster Than Normal! 

Thanks so much. I'm excited to be here! 

It was awesome- we got connected to our friend, our mutual friend, Laurie, who I've known for like 25 years has known me through the good and the bad of the last 25 years of my life, pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis so I assume at some point she looked at you and said, holy shit, you're a female Peter! You guys should really meet. So it is wonderful to have you on the podcast. You are ADHD yourself. When did you get diagnosed and what was life like before it? 

Yeah. Yeah. I was diagnosed in high school, which is pretty typical, I think, especially for girls because we… differently.

Typical nowadays- when I was in HS it was called sit down you’re disturbing the class disease. 

Well, yeah, this was, this was late nineties, early two thousands. So, yeah. Yeah. But, um, but yeah, so before my diagnosis, I had gotten through most things perfectly fine because I was that quiet kid who was just not a problem. And, you know, To myself, in the corner. While other people were maybe going crazy over there. And, uh, so teachers loved that. You know, I got pretty good grades for the most part. Um, until about middle school when I switched, you know, where I was going to school and the format changed and everything else. And all of a sudden, some of the grades that I was getting in my best subjects, like Math, were just plummeting. They were just disastrous. And then around the same time I was getting like migraines. Cause you know, like your hormones are all changing. And so for a while there, we thought that the two were linked and it was kind of scary. Weird stuff going on, you get kicked around from doctor to doctor, to doctor. No one could quite figure it out until one person finally, the doctor said, have you gotten tested for any learning disorders? And it was a huge game changer. So that took place. I think it was my sophomore year of high school. And then all of a sudden we started looking at these symptoms for ADHD after my diagnosis. And it was like, uh, uh, like it was just, it was comforting honestly, to suddenly understand what was going on because the problem was never that I didn't know the material; the problem was.. turning in homework assignments and remembering what chapter I was supposed to read for class and just things like that. And, you know, look at my planner at the assignments were there was everything written out crystal clear, I just got mixed up somehow and did the wrong one. And it's, there was no explanation for it, but it just kept happening. And so it just made everything make so much more sense. Uh, we tried a few medications, which I stuck with through high school. And then since then I've actually gone without, and just found other ways to cope with my strengths and weaknesses and, uh, you know, kind of cover myself. But I, you know, I also did a little bit of ADHD coaching around that time. Did the whole section 508, all that, all that. And so, yeah, it's just. You know, crucial to understanding myself and then also a big part of my identity, honestly. 

Now let's talk about. Okay, so you're ADHD and you, you, you found ways to manage it. You're also a writer. Okay. And when you're writing these books, you have deadlines. So let's just dive right into it. Tell our listeners who are dying to know this; How are you managing your deadlines especially working on your own? 

Sure. You know, it's funny because with the Fiction I've actually lucked out so far in that my publishers have been very kind to me. I've not actually had to work on a hard deadline for a Fiction publisher, but, you know, I work in a public relations firm. I work, you know, I've done freelance writing before I've done all sorts of writing across the gamut, and yeah, stuff has deadlines and. You can't change those deadlines. You know, you've made commitments to clients. You've made commitments to, you know, people on your team, you can't change that. And, uh, you know, I think that really the, the ADHD and the way that my brain works with that has helped with deadlines or maybe the deadlines helped me and then, you know, having multiple plates spinning at once can be easier for me than just having one, uh, something about the pressure of it. As long as it's not too much, you know, there's always an edge to things, but having a little bit of pressure helps with the focus and it helps to be able to have a few things, to give attention to it once deadlines.

Deadlines, themselves help. Because if you don't give me a deadline, I don't feel the same way. If you don't give me a deadline, I'll start working on whatever you want immediately until the next big thing comes along. And then that becomes the most important thing. 

Yup. Yup. And sometimes it's easy if there's not a deadline to just keep going deeper and deeper and deeper and never reach an end point because you just get lost in the, you know, like the exploration itself.

So I've been working on something since 1987, but yeah, sure. 

Yeah. But, um, but the deadlines can really just help kind of lend that focus, but I've also learned a lot over the years about how to best use how my brain works. So I wake up at 5:00 AM in the morning, it's called 5:00 AM writer's club. You can check it out on Twitter.  It's an amazing community of authors who are all up together writing before they do absolutely anything else in their day. 

And so you're, you're you're .. you're writing before you say exercise and before you anything else?? 

Yeah. Yeah. I, I wake up, I walk my dog quickly and then I opened my computer and I start reading whatever manuscript I'm on. And I check in with my author buddies on Twitter. There's a little bit of support and accountability to that. Also very helpful. And then I just get to work and I, I write for about probably an hour and a half most mornings, um, around that time. And it's really nice because I know that my brain is a little bit slower when I've just woken up. So it's easier to have just one thing that I'm trying to do. And especially when it's something that's a really long tail goal, like writing a novel, uh, that tends to take me about a year, maybe year and a half to do so it's not like you get that instant hit of gratification of checking something off of your list. It's, it's a nice time to be able to just sink into something as opposed to jumping task to task like I do, you know, later in the day and it gets me thinking creatively before my brain is tired from having been at work all day or going for a run or whatever else it might be. 

How are you getting? So tell me about how you're getting your dopamine when you're, when you're.. for me, if I'm writing, if I'm doing long periods, writing has to be in a confined space, like I'm on an airplane for 14 hours on my way to Asia, or I've just worked out, or I've just done a long run or a ride or whatever, and then, or a skydive. And then I have the dopamine in my system to, to, to go to town on writings, but you're doing it at 5:00 AM the second you wake up, that's amazing. 

Uh, yeah. Yeah. And I definitely do things to manage my energy. Like I, I hear what you're saying with that, but I do it in the evening. So I'll usually go for my run at the end of the day when my brain's tapped out. But I'm starting to feel like physically a little fidgety, so I'll eat dinner and then I'll head out.

And, you're able to get your. My thing is if I don't, if I wake up and have to think about working out, I'm going to come up with a reason not to. So I, you know, I sleep in my running shorts. I wake up I'm on the bike or I'm on the I'm on the train or whatever. So I don’t have to think about it. So you actually have the ability to, to think about it all day. No, you have to do it and still manage to do it. That's actually pretty impressive. 

I mean, I got to tell you, I don't even think about it until I shut my computer at the end of the Workday. And then. Yeah, and I mean, it's not perfect. It's not perfect, but it's so important to me to make writing the priority, to make sure that I do it every single day. You know, I used to run in the morning and decided I had to make a choice. And so that's the choice I made. Um, but yeah, I do a pretty good job with running all the same. So I usually get out the door and go for a run three to four days a week on, on weekdays and then once or twice more on the weekends. So it adds up to a pretty reliable routine. 

Awesome. Tell me about switching roles. So, you know, at. during the day your at a PR firm or advertising, whatever and then you come home and you're writing Fantasy Fiction. How what’s..[???] And then you go to PR [..ah, here is is..} What's the switch in the brain’s mindset to go from one to the other?

That's a good question. Um, you know, I think there's maybe a difference between like when I'm writing Fiction I'm letting my brain wander. So it kind of taps into a lot of what, you know, especially having Inattentive ADHD. It’s what my brain wants to do anyway. Whereas when I'm at work, I think it taps into some similar creative things, you know, working in PR a lot of it really does come down to what's going to be a compelling story to tell, but it's a much faster turnaround. So I'm hopping from one thing to the next, the next to the next, you know, often, many times an hour even, and so. It hits. I think there's a way to tap into that ADHD thing- where you want to just jump on everything at once. And it works really well for what I do at a firm. Uh, basically everything is happening all the time at once anyway. And so it becomes a real strength to be able to exist in that and be comfortable with it. Um, and so that's kind of where I get that. I mean, you talked about dopamine before. That adrenaline hit almost of like checking multiple things off your list and then kind of jumping around and getting that fresh project to tackle, uh, every half hour or so. 

Let's change topics. Tell me about Departures, because let me, I want to guys, I want to read you. I want to read you the, uh, the sort of, um, the, the blurb here for her for her novel Departures: “to get along in the directorate, just seek control, track your metrics and die when scheduled. That's where Evie went wrong”.  

So, okay. Number one, I'm going to go out and get this immediately cause this looks really pretty good, but tell me about the book.

Sure. So I, the books started with the idea of a girl who just as the description, sounds like she wakes up in the morning and she's in a total panic because she was not supposed to wake up again. This was her departure date, the day she was scheduled to die. And so many of my book ideas come from that initial seed. So it's either like a character voice or like this was kind of like that initial hook for the that you, uh, start out with and then everything else has to be built out from there. And so I kind of tackle that sort of project very slowly over time and then layer things in. So at first I thought that was going to be that opening scene where the book would go and then I started to slowly. I wrote that scene, figuring it out the best I could. So like a skeleton version of the scene. And then from there, it's, it's called like a zero draft where you kind of write out the beats, capture what you can, as you go. Cause you kind of hit that creative flow. So you might hit full sections of dialogue or description or something where you get really deep into it. And then other sections are still just like, I don't know, I'll come back and figure this out later, something happens here where they make this discovery and.. you kinda get what you can out on the page, because then it's out in front of you and your brain space starts to open up for more. And so through that sort of process, I started to get into this world where it wasn't just about death dates, but everything about it was very carefully optimized, very carefully structured, so that everyone lived their best possible life by this particular government's definition. And so for them, that meant removing all pain, you know, kind of putting optimal, optimal levels around, you know, when people sleep, what people eat, uh, how much stress they allow into their lives, providing everybody with a fitness routine that helps them optimize their lives. And so over time that started to create a system where people live extremely long lives. And everything is very, very carefully managed on their behalf. And I, so when something goes wrong within this world, it's catastrophic. Um, and Evie, even though this meant for her that she was now able to live a longer life. You know, one of the really interesting points that came up over and over again is I was sharing this manuscripts with different, uh, critique partners with different editors and agents, was that people were struggling because Evie at first was more panicked about being alive than she was relieved. But I it's something I examined over and over again. And he really came to the conclusion that when this is kind of the doctrine that's embedded within you, your entire life, I think that rings true. You know, everyone's relying on the system to work all of the time and be, have their best interests in mind. And so if that doesn't work out, then what's going to happen to everyone. Uh, and it, it made for a really fun world to create and an even more fun world to break. 

It's very, very cool. Where can people find you and follow you? Cause this was, this is fascinating. I wanna have you back at some point, but we do keep the podcasts at 20 minutes, because you know, ADHD, um, so how do people find you? 

EJWenstrom.com or @EJWenstrom on Twitter  INSTA  TikTok and you can sign up for the first novel of the Fantasy series Departures here! 

So you can find me at. 

[ https://www.ejwenstrom.com or at @EJWenstrom on Twitter  INSTA  Facebook and newly on TikTok] and links to all of her books are here

Or at AEJ Wenstrom on Twitter, on Instagram. Uh, I've just started playing around with TikTOK. So you can find me there too. Uh, and yeah, you can sign up, like you mentioned at the beginning and get the, uh, the first novel in the fantasy series I wrote before Departures, you can also find a purchase in that whole other series on Amazon and, uh, other major books.

Love love, love. We will throw the link into the show notes guys. This was.. God.. this is awesome. We do thank you so much. I'm totally going to.. EJ what's the age on the books? I feel like my daughter would love it, but she's only eight. Would she love it or should I wait a few years? 

Uh, you know, you might, it's kind of a parental discretion thing. Uh, for Departures, it's definitely written for you, a young adult audience. There's maybe some romantic themes that are a little bit advanced for an eight year old, but she also may not pick up on it. That would be your judgment call to make, but I would say it's written for like a 12 to 16 year old audience. 

Well, she came home yesterday and told me the three boys in the class asked to marry her so we’re there!! 

Awesome, guys. This was phenomenal. EJ, thank you so much EJ Wenstrom everyone on Faster Than Normal today. Great, great interview. Thank you so much for your time. 

Guys, as always, we love that you're here. It means the world to me, we are close to 300 episodes and I can't even believe that that's almost as, as weird to me as thinking they haven't, I've almost had a dog for a year. So things get crazy up in this, up in this, uh, uh, pandemic bitch. It's just, it's been an insane year. We've had this podcast running since 2000… god since late 2016 or 2017, I think, so we are going on strong, our 300th episode is coming up. It's gonna be pretty amazing. Stick around for that. Thank you for listening. I'm at @petershankman on all the socials, the website, is FasterThanNormal.com the on Twitter and all the, all the socials there. Anything we can do for you. If you have any guests that you think were as cool as EJ Wenstrom or have the same color hair, let us know. We would love to have them on the podcast as well. We will see you next week with a new interview. My name is Peter Shankman. You've been listening to the Faster Than Normal, where we understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. I want you to understand that too. Talk to you guys soon.

Credits: You've been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We're available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I'm your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you've heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We'll see you next week. 

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