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I just kind of stumbled upon this site but I would love some help from anyone... All my life I have loved to write. As a kid and teenager it was my favorite pastime, and I was always planning for a story, writing a new story, finishing a story. I loved it. I always had ideas and was creating new things all the time. However, the past two years (maybe a little more), I haven't been able to write anything. It's as if I have no ideas, no creativity, no inspiration, nothing. It's really awful because I still love writing, but I feel no motivation or anything. I feel like all my creative sparks are gone and I can't come up with anything good or worth reading. Does anyone else have this problem? What is this called? Am I not a writer anymore? Thanks in advance. ~McKenna

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    My suggestion is simple, read news articles. There are so many incredible things that are real stories. From near misses of asteroids: dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/661900/… to AI writers with the same problem of writers block: iflscience.com/technology/… they all can be found on sites like IFLscience.com. Just ask your friends what worries them and there are the beginnings of your new story. Good Luck. – Richard Stanzak Dec 18 '17 at 0:25
  • If you do come back into writing don't be surprised if 1. You find your writing really stinks compared to before your writer's block. (You're rusty and out of practice.) 2. Your writing style changes. Both of these happened to me. I had a writers block that extended sometime around 2011, with maybe occasional dabs of writing around 2012, but not much progress until this year 2017. It was a bit of a letdown reading what I wrote now vs before the block, but I can see though rough, what I have written now is better than back then even if it is lackluster. It's the potential I see and strive for. – BugFolk Dec 18 '17 at 16:29
  • Expanded: there's no easy way out of #1: Lackluster (rusty) writing, except to work through it and keep writing. ( I'm finding this with my current rough draft. ) It's like the sea of terrible art you have to do before getting where you want if you're an artist. Sometimes that frustration itself is enough to desire putting it aside, but doing that only prolongs the period of lackluster writing. That's why it helps to have an idea you really want to write and can't put aside regardless. – BugFolk Dec 18 '17 at 16:35
  • From the experience I saw from my mom over the past 40 years, writing can come and go, same way with inspiration. Trying to force it will only make things worse. There are tricks to getting over Block, but mileage will vary. Just write when/what you feel like. Keeping a daily/weekly journal may help you stay in practice and may jog interest in something. Also, don't hem yourself into any one genre, let the pen fly for any or no reason on any or no topic, regardless if you think you'll publish it. – computercarguy Dec 19 '17 at 20:36
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Adding to the comment above about life and stress, other hobbies can also get in the way. Sharing this from personal experience. Other people may be able to manage more than one hobby, but if you're like me, I find no matter how hard I try to juggle projects, I end up choosing one hobby at a time and go all into it leaving little to no time for much else to do in my free time.

Maybe that's happened to you. As far as what helps to get out of a writer's block, I suspect is individual and up to you. What helps me is sometimes going back and reading over old drafts and start editing helps get the process started. Eventually I find my mind filling in more and expanding, changing stuff and improving, unfinished ideas start playing in my mind.

Also, like suggested, reading news articles and watching the news helped. The highly charged political atmosphere of late 2016/ early 2017 jumped started my urge to write. First it was just doing forum comments, then expanded into what core ideas I had in my past stories. Some of the old ideas I no longer agreed with, but rather than remove them, decided to play it out, have conflict between the old ideas and new ideas. That gave me a motive and a message to share in my writing.

Maybe that will help you. Maybe you're looking for a message or an opinion close to you to share?

Edited to add:

This little bit is what came to my mind when reviewing this topic. I'm not sure how useful it is, but I'll post it anyway.

Writers block is the naysaying little creatures in your mind biting at you, the rocks slipping under your feet, pulling you down, tripping you you into the valleys of your mind, telling you that your work isn't good enough, that you should give it up. That your work isn't good enough, and you should scatter your focus into other hobbies. You have to fight through those voices, hold your head up high and climb that mountain, keep climbing. If you slip, get back up, keep going. Don't let the naysayers win. Yes your work will be terrible. There will be times of self doubt, but you know, there's no way around it. You have to fight through the bland, get past the bottom of the mountain to get to the summit. To give up at the mediocre stage, means having to return at that stage when you go back. This is where I failed in the past. Giving up when it was mediocre and hoping I could get to the summit when I returned from my break. It doesn't work that way. You have to keep climbing if you desire to achieve your goal. It helps to have a desire, a message that is near to you, enough that you can see the potential and stick with it as you struggle through the early stages.

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    News is great idea, but you don't need crazy political stuff, read the weird crazy news. That's where good stories lie. Also Deep dives on Wikipedia for crazy history and science – Andrey Dec 18 '17 at 15:19
  • Agreed, it doesn't have to be all political. Just something that you feel strongly about, enough to drive you into writing it. Or it may just turn out like a high school or college essay, just something you write but not put your heart into. Without that drive, then it gets easy to find another hobby and fall into writers block again. That said I find ebbs and flows. Sometimes I have to skip over sections because writing them feels like work more than fun and it would kill my desire to write if I forced it, so I leave a note and return to that section later. – BugFolk Dec 18 '17 at 15:28
  • Oh and don't be afraid (especially in the rough draft phase) to go ahead and type up a rant about why you're stuck. Sometimes I've done that and it can be interesting. Other times I'll write out a summery of what I want the characters to do but...just...can't...get into the mindset or make the characters do it. In time when I write out the draft, I may find out that I was stuck because the original idea didn't work and the actual scene comes out different, either another location, sequence, or set of characters. Or was boring and/or not needed. – BugFolk Dec 18 '17 at 15:33
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There are lots of things that push our creativity to the side or that bring it back on full force.

  1. Stress. I guess you are in your early 20s? Maybe you're finishing a degree, or starting a job, or moving, or even getting married, or having children.

Any of these things will take precedence over writing. When you were a teenager, you had to write for classes, and writing was probably therapeutic for you too. But if life came along and gave you other things to take care of, you won't have the same nudge to sit down and put pen to paper. You mind is on the here and now, the details of 'adulting.'

  1. Close death or divorce etc (this is #1 on steroids)

I have a friend who loves to sing and her husband started abusing her and guess what, she never felt like singing and she told me she didn't know why and we were all like "because your husband is abusing you" and when she got out of the relationship guess what? She started singing again. This is a thing. Heavy stress will change what you feel like doing.

  1. You are 'settling down.' I think there probably is something to the idea that what you feel in teenage years changes in your twenties. Each decade has its own 'thing.' The twenties are all about those grown up things - Jobs and what not. Thirties are mostly about kids, forties are about other things and fifties and sixties and seventies and so on.

This does not mean you are not a writer. It means many people are different in their twenties than they were as teenagers.

If you want to write a little bit, you could start a blog, or enter short story contests, or join a writer's club (meet-up has writers clubs everywhere), or just get a notebook and do short form stuff (poetry). A blog has a nice advantage in that you can build up a whole series of blog-gy posts and if you get back to other types of writing down the road, you have this nice set of blog posts that chronicle where you were and so on for the past xx years. You might have followers too, if it's on FB.

Things come and go and come back again. Don't sweat it.

  • Upvoting this. There may be a bit of truth to this. Though I didn't get married or start a family, I did find a drop of creativity in my mid to late 20's as I focused on moving out of state from my parents place and eventually transitioned into living in my own apartment. The job I have isn't my dream job and the pay is so-so, but working part time and maybe my mindset nearing my mid 30's me to slowly allowing me to get back into writing. – BugFolk Dec 18 '17 at 2:10
  • I want to add to this that other hobbies can get in the way of writing and vise versa. While actively pursuing photography, that meant more on the go time and less sitting behind a computer. Just simply not enough time to do both hobbies and get the most out of them. The same goes with drawing or sculpting. There's only so much time in a day and unless you want to set a time to both, then you're going to find yourself choosing one, and have no time left for the other. You might have chosen another hobby at the time of your writers block. – BugFolk Dec 18 '17 at 2:12
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You're still a writer - you've given us a story and some character development in just a few words. The problem looks like one of inspiration and motivation.

Other posters have mentioned other things getting in the way - with me it was a different kind of writing : my work involves producing and editing technical manuals, reports, and corporate communications. I never had a problem with those as I had a writing brief, a deadline and an intended audience, but I was looking for a way to pull that back into the fiction I used to have a lot less trouble writing.

Local or online writers' groups might be able to give you a writing brief (inspiration) and a deadline and audience (motivation). I would highly recommend the Writing Challenges on the Meta site here (latest at Writing challenge: Sale! - 8 Dec 2017 - 29 Dec 2017). It's not the only place online for this, but it's a good one - special thanks to Michael, Mithrandir and Vylix for the recent ones.

I'm probably making it sound like work which won't help everyone but might get some people started. When you can get back to thinking of writing as play, the inspiration and motivation will take care of themselves.

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"I can't come up with anything good or worth reading."

This implies you have ideas, you just think they're bad. That's irrelevant. You must write.

Do you honestly think an artist just happens to make a masterpiece every time? That an athlete just goes out and wins a gold medal? No. These people practice. Most of the time it's not interesting, but they keep practicing. So must you.

Write. Write anything. Write about your day, write about something that interests you, write about someone who interests you, write short stories, write world building documents. You are not a writer because you had written something years ago... you are a writer because you spend time writing. Most importantly, write when you don't feel like it - force yourself to write regularly.

I'm an indie games developer. I spend most of my time writing code for my game. Many times I don't feel like I want to work on a specific thing, because it's boring or hard. But I force myself. This makes me feel better because I end up achieving something, instead of just watching TV. Even if it's ugly code, it serves a purpose. The same for writing short stories, which I have done on and off over the years.

Feeling uninspired? Read. Fiction, history, the news. Watch documentaries. Listen to radio talk shows. Go for walks. Exercise. Do something. You either do, or you do not. Don't care about whether it's bad or not, write. The more you write, the better your writing will become.

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First, what happened two to three years ago? What happened in the months after the last story you wrote? You don't have to tell me, this is for yourself to contemplate, and I am not soliciting any criminal or sexual history, or any betrayals committed or suffered, or any unrequited love or rejection, or any other kind of emotional trauma concerning yourself, your family or friends.

I suspect that your lack of writing is due to a significant emotional event. Understanding that is your first step to moving on from it.

Another route toward this would be analyzing what you wrote, and how it changed over time. What did your fictional characters do that inspired you or pleased you? Were you writing your own wish fulfillment fiction, e.g. McKenna finds true love, or conquers evil, or solves world hunger, or goes to Harvard. If you were, get in better touch with your own current aspirations, think about how stories could illustrate them.

Or perhaps, the idealistic self-expectations you once had became unrealizable. Despite your best efforts, you did not get into Harvard, and did not even get a full scholarship. Or did not become an actress, or young politician, or professional athlete, or published author, or whatever you truly thought possible as a young teen. Perhaps your current block is a result of disappointment.

Perhaps you felt that writing was fun because something like it would someday come true, and as an adult you find that naive and silly. If I look at the stories I wrote as a young teen, they are unpublishable naive drivel I regard quite fondly, because they do reflect some of my core desires for justice, fairness, and the permanent destruction of evil.

Another way of putting this is that very young children dress up as superheroes or princesses because they truly believe they could grow up to be like that: But eventually they grow up and realize that is childish and impossible, and stop dressing as superman or wonderwoman.

In the same way, you may have grown out of the kind of stories you used to write, that came easily to you, and if you want to continue writing (I assume you do or you wouldn't have asked this question) you need to stop dressing up as a superhero with magical powers, and move on to more difficult, vulnerable adult heroes that are more realistic and not guaranteed to win.

I suspect your life changed 2-3 years ago, and that change is what shut down your writing. It may have been a permanent change (first love, first sex, first something-else), but that is okay: It should just mark a change in what you write about going forward. Figure out what happened, and that will help you figure out why it should not have changed the fact that you write, it should only have changed how you write and what you write about and what you want from writing.

  • It doesn't always have to be a major life change, though it could be. I've found writers block to come very subtly. 1. I have an idea I really want to write, but just can't. (insert reason. Either at work, or on the bus or involved with something else) 2. Come back to write it, but facebook or some other page looks more interesting. 3. Try to come back to the idea I wanted to write, but then see some other shiny subject (such as a sunset) 4. Grabs camera thaes picture of the sunset. 5. Posts picture of sunset on a photography forum or facebook and get positive response. 6. - next post. – BugFolk Dec 18 '17 at 16:12
  • 6. Decides to take more pictures and plans a bike trip to a scenic local place. 7. Does that activity. 8. The idea I wanted to write is becomes a distant memory. Enough days like that and a hiatus can be rather easy. That said I may be tempted to go back and return to the hobbies I put aside to do the writing hobby and start the cycle over. I suspect I'm not alone and the process can cause writers to go on hiatus. There's only so many hours in a day and so many hobbies one can follow at a time. To do one means sacrificing the others. Sometimes it is writing. Sometimes it is another hobby. – BugFolk Dec 18 '17 at 16:17
  • @BugFolk Your distractions do not match the OP's experience, they want to write but cannot. I suspect you don't really want to write, it doesn't hold your interest and isn't as much fun as being entertained by the Internet. S. King says many that say they want to write do not, they only want to have written, to be an author and have an income from sales without further work. Maybe that is you, or maybe you are so stuck you are discouraged and THAT is no fun. I think something happened to the OP that blocked all their younger reasons to write. Hence no ideas that matter anymore. – Amadeus Dec 19 '17 at 21:46
  • I think you misunderstood my post. I really do want to write. The idea drives me, but at some point I hit a mental roadblock. It's the I want to get this idea down but I can't make it materialize, so other distractions get in the way, seem easier and then before I know it, it gets harder to return to the idea, than it is to block out the distraction and get it out anyway, even if the idea falls short of what I wanted. – BugFolk Dec 20 '17 at 3:30
  • But yeah there's a degree of what you wrote in your last few paragraphs that I can relate to as well. People like my older, childish stuff, but when I read it, I just can't engage in that mindset. Part of continuing the writing process was having to accept that even if I may have liked parts of my old work, I cannot return to that style no matter how hard I try. I outgrew the ability to fully relate to my child characters and the plots that engaged me as a child bore me as an adult. So yeah To continue I had to accept a slightly more mature perspective than my child self. – BugFolk Dec 20 '17 at 3:37
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I feel like all my creative sparks are gone and I can't come up with anything good or worth reading.

This sounds like perfectionism to me.

Try reading some of Albert Ellis' texts. He has been one of the most influential psychologist in the therapeutic field. One of his ideas is: "make a bad version".

You could also force yourself to write a book within one day. This has been done before with books which where reviewed and publicized by editors, and then rated by journalists or columnists with 3 stars or more.

Books don't have to be perfect, as long as they are enjoyable.

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