Success as a Disability Writer – by Kerry Ridgway

Success as a Disability Writer – by Kerry Ridgway

Successful authors seem born to write. Masked by the ability to put words on paper (or on a screen), it’s seems these authors have never struggled at all. But, in fact, many writers have a disability. Sometimes, it’s even the reason they write. According to online blog Mental Up, George Bernard Shaw and Jules Verne had ADHD. I have ADHD and dyslexia and, as a result, I struggle with concentration, readability of text, and sticking to one theme. You’ve probably heard how disability equipment can aid physical disability.

Similarly, I use various avenues for my own more neuro-oriented disabilities.

Places and Mediums For Writing
When I started to write, I had to grapple with the concept of where to write. Writers are often told that certain environments are conducive to creativity. Forget that. “22 Places To Write When You’re Tired of Working At Home”  outlines how to diversify workspaces. For those with disabilities, unusual environments may be necessary for creativity.

Since I need stimulating, dynamic environments to maintain my attention, I work productively amidst the bustling cacophony of cafes, or outside amidst the trees. The throb of life seems to resonate with my muse. I also find that working off a tiny screen on a mobile phone, by feeble light in the dark, to be one of the best mediums to work in. This is because the dark conveys a mysterious ambience to me, spurring creativity. Scientific research even validates adapted environments as beneficial. According to The British Dyslexic Association, dyslexics absorb content better by reading in slight contrasts, such as light blue on a pastel orange background.

Your Desired Genre…or Not
I always thought you had to be the master of everything as a writer. That’s not true. While I’ve not had much success with journalistic articles, I have had many personal or first-person essays and opinion pieces published to date. For me, the first-person essay is like writing a cathartic letter, in simple format, without getting bogged down by a more objective, journalistic genre. The first-person essay is a genre that’s in demand so there are a wealth of opportunities.

I’ve had two personal essays published in You and Me Magazine, a consumer focused medical publication that pays $0.04-$0.05 per word. I have written for a host of other disability and lifestyle magazines about my emotional healing journey and its vagaries. These includes, Yoppvoice, a social justice magazine, which pays $75 for essays, and The Phoenix Spirit, which covers emotional growth and addiction recovery. They pay $25-$35 for first person accounts.

The Content You Write
I don’t just limit my content to sole disability niches. I have written about freelance writing and its impacts on disability,  and vice versa. I have written about pets with disabilities, famous authors with disabilities, and celebrities with disabilities, all with different target audiences in mind. Though not related to disability, I wrote a poem about how gardening alleviates moodiness, and sent it to a gardening magazine. Never think that you need to limit your writing and sales to strictly disability topics.


Kerry is a freelance journalist and massage therapist from Australia. Her work has been published globally. She cooks, massages and messes about to deal with ebbs in writing.

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