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
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.
There are lots of things that push our creativity to the side or that bring it back on full force.
- 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.'
- 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.
- 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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.