Lost my abilities to write and imagine...

chongjasmine

Formerly chongjasmine
Joined
Aug 2, 2009
Messages
493
I used to be a rather imaginative teenager, and could think of all kinds of outcomes for my stories and will engross myself in writing. I will write long novels, really, really long novels. I just write for the sake of writing and really enjoy the writing process. Fast foward twenty plus years. Now, I am hardly able to write anything besides short fiction. I find myself unable to plot and imagine the outcomes for long fiction. Writing, which used to be so easy to me, is now so hard.
I find myself unable to write long novels, and can only write short fiction.
What happened to me? How can I come out of my situation and enjoy writing, again?
 

BT Jones

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Messages
570
Location
Australia
Hi @chongjasmine. I can't claim to understand how you might be feeling. We are all different. Maybe you just have not found the subject matter that really engages with you? Or the characters, or the setting. It's not the same thing, but I struggled for many years to write the first story in a 10-story saga that I have been playing for countless years. In the end, I just had to ask myself why I didn't enjoy writing. Ultimately, I simply changed the things I didn't like, one-by-one, until I looked forward to setting behind the keyboard to get to know all these characters.

Maybe you just need to do the same. I think all of our characters have pieces of us in them. So maybe ask yourself which part of yourself you would like to write a story about? The dreamer, the intellectual, the lover, the adventurer, etc. Then think about where you would like it to be set? What places in the world do you love? Or what places would you like to explore? Or, imagining a fantasy world, what would you want it to look like?

I thing there would be plenty of Chrons members that could give you better advice than this, but this is just what I think. You need to find a topic and characters that you love, and then start digging!!

Good luck.
 

Astro Pen

Write now.
Supporter
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
1,248
Location
Wales UK
"I find myself unable to plot"
It is possible that you have made a paradigm shift away from being a plotter. As your writing advances you may be moving into a more free form mindset.
Try starting without a formal plan and see where it goes. For those pantsers among us this is the creative process. Writing and plotting run together, the plot elements are forming as we write. Conceiving a plot and writing the detail appear in parrallel rather than serially.

The key is that if you have always plotted ahead rigorously you expect "discovery writing" to deliver chaos. But it doesn't. Structure forms quite naturally in the story telling process. The mental map of what is developing as you write is far more acute than you might think.
 

Elckerlyc

"Philosophy will clip an angel's wings."
Supporter
Joined
Aug 27, 2019
Messages
1,270
Location
The Netherlands
I don't think I can fully understand your problem or how you got there, but I do have a similar outcome.

When I was about 20 I only had to grab a pen, sit down (but usually in reversed order) and write a story. I hardly had to think, it just flowed from... somewhere.
Originally I wrote stories to read at parties and such, just for fun; at a wedding a story about the groom (a friend of mine), a farewell story for someone who got drafted and would be missed at our weekly get-together. Often the stories were based on a fairy-tale, re-written and re-wired to fit the subject (or victim, if you like.) My friend the groom was a computer-nerd, so I wrote The Emperor's New Computer. For the military service victim I wrote 3 stories within a week, because I had doubts whether the first 2 would be liked. (They were.)
Then I got a job and I wrote less and less. With a few exceptions* I haven't produced anything during the period until my retirement, September 2019. Which happens also to be the moment I joined this forum. But writing anything longer than 300 words? No. Well, maybe, if I got a really good idea. But the whole notion is in itself too daunting. Perhaps I need more time to recuperate from 45 years of work..
Where some writers write from some inner restlessness or drive based upon their personal situation, feelings or issues, I can only write when my mind is clear and uncluttered. Untroubled. The older I get the more rubbish my mind is stacking. It clutters the freeway of imaginative thinking. At least for me.
And yet. Writing is one of the most gratifying activities I know... when you managed to finish it satisfactorily.



* I wrote the obituaries for my mother, father and eldest brother and read those at their funeral. Which was an honor and very rewarding to do, but not exactly stories.
 

Bramandin

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 5, 2022
Messages
98
I have the same issue with how I can't remember how to draw. Luckily for me, going through some old sketchbooks feels like it removed some blocks. Writing-wise, I dug out an abandoned fanfiction from fifteen years ago and tried to rewrite it. Over the last two years, it mutated into an absolute trash-fire that I should have fifty-shades a while ago because it doesn't feel like it's in that universe anymore, but at least I'm writing.

So my advice to you is to try and dig out an old idea and work with it. Ideally one that you don't mind completely ruining.
 

magpie Asylum

Active Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2022
Messages
42
I used to be a rather imaginative teenager, and could think of all kinds of outcomes for my stories and will engross myself in writing. I will write long novels, really, really long novels. I just write for the sake of writing and really enjoy the writing process. Fast foward twenty plus years. Now, I am hardly able to write anything besides short fiction. I find myself unable to plot and imagine the outcomes for long fiction. Writing, which used to be so easy to me, is now so hard.
I find myself unable to write long novels, and can only write short fiction.
What happened to me? How can I come out of my situation and enjoy writing, again?
People and writers change over time. I don't know what you wrote as a kid, or what you are writing now. I think this could have a lot to do with where you are in life and what is going on with you as a person. This isn't a criticism and its just an observation from what you said. If I had any advice for you is probably to talk to someone. If this is really bothering you there is nothing wrong with going to counseling. This might be part of another issue you might not even realized.

I was in a long and very unhealthy marriage. I could not write in the house with my spouse. Couldn't do it, even when it was quiet. It wasn't until I was overseas that I could write a novel. When I realized that I realized how truly unhealthy that marriage was.

Food for thought.
 

tinkerdan

∞<Q-Satis
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
5,223
Location
x² + y² = r²:when x~∞
I think you should be able to recover from this.
When I was young(I think I may have mentioned some of this once)I had little imagination or at best had to work hard to access it and I often marveled at those who could just spiel out fantasies one after the other.
One thing that helped me was a whole lot of reading of various authors work.
So when you get stuck like this--maybe start reading.
 

Bramandin

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 5, 2022
Messages
98
People and writers change over time. I don't know what you wrote as a kid, or what you are writing now. I think this could have a lot to do with where you are in life and what is going on with you as a person. This isn't a criticism and its just an observation from what you said. If I had any advice for you is probably to talk to someone. If this is really bothering you there is nothing wrong with going to counseling. This might be part of another issue you might not even realized.

I was in a long and very unhealthy marriage. I could not write in the house with my spouse. Couldn't do it, even when it was quiet. It wasn't until I was overseas that I could write a novel. When I realized that I realized how truly unhealthy that marriage was.

Food for thought.

This resonated a bit. I think that while there was another issue that put me off of writing, my stopping roughly coincided with me wanting help with hoarding. It eventually got to where the hoarding is not my fault, but it isn't helping. Or maybe it's helping too much. I'd rather write than look up from my screen these days.
 

Guanazee

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Apr 6, 2020
Messages
90
Location
California
Everyone's different. I wonder if now you have a better sense that you need to have a strong plot to have a strong, long story than you did as a youth and so maybe you're having some anxiety about that. Have you tried a loose outline? Start with just beginning and ending of story. Let that sit. Add a few major climactic moments in the middle. Let that sit. Add a few minor conflict points. Make a different loose outline. If you're having trouble, try using a song or poem lyrics to influence a plot outline as an exercise.
 

THX1138

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2022
Messages
85
Location
Land Locked Ocean Dream
Everyone's different. I wonder if now you have a better sense that you need to have a strong plot to have a strong, long story than you did as a youth and so maybe you're having some anxiety about that. Have you tried a loose outline? Start with just beginning and ending of story. Let that sit. Add a few major climactic moments in the middle. Let that sit. Add a few minor conflict points. Make a different loose outline. If you're having trouble, try using a song or poem lyrics to influence a plot outline as an exercise.
I do something very similar to that and it works for me.
Sometimes even watching a documentary on science or history can help too.
 

THX1138

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2022
Messages
85
Location
Land Locked Ocean Dream
If you do the 75, 100, or 300-word challenges then try approaching each chapter in the same way.
And like others have said find someone to talk to. Change your daily/writing routine. Do some exercise or go for a walk.
Remember to take some time for yourself and just reflect and listen. It will come back to you.
And don't forget to laugh!
 

Serendipity

A Traditional Eccentric!
Joined
Feb 16, 2013
Messages
1,265
Location
In Existence Somewhere
There are any one of several, or indeed a combination, of reasons that could be contributing to your lack of wanting to write. Some have already been mentioned above. I could add some unmentioned ones now, but will leave it at two.

The pandemic and now the uncertainty about and horror of Ukraine has been a worry for us. We are now in the process of adjusting back towards normal life under a new Cold War situation. Such imposed change and worry stifles creativity - many well-known SF authors found their creativity flat-lining during the pandemic. This could be why you're experiencing problems now. If it is, it will resolve itself in due course.

Every writer, no matter what stage they are at, is on a learning curve. Sometimes that learning takes the wrong direction. The writer has to then unlearn what is wrong before starting to learn again. Writers find it confusing, frustrating and baffling as they muddle their back to clarity - exactly the type of mindset that mashes creativity into shards. You could be going through one of these stages. If so, let it run its course and what I call doodle at writing. One day your doodle will change into a story, its style of writing definitely different in some way from your previous writing - and it will be much better.
 

THX1138

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2022
Messages
85
Location
Land Locked Ocean Dream
Sometimes you may even need to get out and see new things or bring them to you.
There are two of the Louvre. The first is of some virtual tours of the little galleries.
The second is a catalog of their collections. Great for the history, art and anthropology bug that might be asleep in you.
Enjoy and take a look. Just don't get lost!

Online tours
Louvre site des collections
 

Wayne Mack

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2020
Messages
917
Location
Chantilly, Virginia, US
I like to think of creativity as a muscle. You need to exercise it for it to get stronger. Try entering the 75, 100, 300 word challenges or adding to one of the various writing prompt threads (Writing Challengers, Workshop). Give yourself permission to do it badly for a while with the belief that you will regain your writing instincts in time.
 

magpie Asylum

Active Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2022
Messages
42
You know what maybe if you want we can try a different approach. Ive been thinking about this post for the past few days.
If you want to try an experiment throw out an idea and lets see if we can crowd source a few ideas. You are in charge but see if the community can help you find your mojo again.
 

Stephen Palmer

author of novels
Joined
Dec 22, 2009
Messages
5,589
Location
Shropshire
You need to ask yourself, "What is it inside me that needs to come out via the vehicle of writing?" then go from there. Is it possible that everything has come out? If not, ask what it was all those years ago which came out...
 

OuttaInc

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2022
Messages
56
Location
DC
I used to be a rather imaginative teenager, and could think of all kinds of outcomes for my stories and will engross myself in writing. I will write long novels, really, really long novels. I just write for the sake of writing and really enjoy the writing process. Fast foward twenty plus years. Now, I am hardly able to write anything besides short fiction. I find myself unable to plot and imagine the outcomes for long fiction. Writing, which used to be so easy to me, is now so hard.
I find myself unable to write long novels, and can only write short fiction.
What happened to me? How can I come out of my situation and enjoy writing, again?
Is it because the ideas just aren't coming, or that your internal editor squashes ideas before they can fully germinate?

If it's the former, perhaps your environment has too many distractions competing for attention and your mind has become a little too comfortable with external stimulation (TV, podcasts, TikTok, etc). Try turning everything off and forcing some alone time without distraction. See what bubbles to the surface.

If it's the latter, put that internal editor into a cage and throw away the key until you've got a complete first draft! It's possible you've just become more discerning in your older years and you're judging/shooting down ideas before they've had a chance to reveal their true potential. Remember, everybody's first draft is crap. The important thing is to get it on the page.

Good luck!
 

Please Be Nice

Active Member
Joined
May 14, 2022
Messages
41
I used to be a rather imaginative teenager, and could think of all kinds of outcomes for my stories and will engross myself in writing. I will write long novels, really, really long novels. I just write for the sake of writing and really enjoy the writing process. Fast foward twenty plus years. Now, I am hardly able to write anything besides short fiction. I find myself unable to plot and imagine the outcomes for long fiction. Writing, which used to be so easy to me, is now so hard.
I find myself unable to write long novels, and can only write short fiction.
What happened to me? How can I come out of my situation and enjoy writing, again?
How often do you drink tap water? Don't answer just ask yourself.
 

paranoid marvin

Run VT Erroll!
Supporter
Joined
Mar 9, 2007
Messages
3,781
Why not go back to some of the stuff you wrote 20 years ago; you already have the plots and outcomes set out for you. With 20 years more experience, you should be able to tweak and improve on what you have previously written. Perhaps once you have put pen to paper and re-written one of your previous stories, the ideas and inspirations will start to flow again.

Why not try writing a series of short stories in the same 'universe' as each other? You may find that as you write them, the characters and storylines intertwine and can be combined into a longer story.
 

DLCroix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
271
The first thing: relax.

The second: think carefully if what you are doing is literature or a movie script. Many get bogged down in show versus tell and end up losing the ability to tell stories to themselves. Unless you are a screenwriter for Netflix, show versus tell is NOT useful to you because it is something that was invented in the 80s and is applied to minimalist literature. Let's see how that can help you in a science fiction or fantasy novel, both with a great need to give details of the environment and the plot that can NOT go into dialogue because it sounds false. There is an obvious problem of expectations versus reality here.

The third: what's wrong with writing short stories? If it is your strong point or it has become your strong point, then work on it.

Fourth: plan your stories. Concentrate on an idea and then add the details or parallel plots, ellipses and everything else. After all, if you want to build a ship, you always start with the frame or skeleton. :ninja:
 

Similar threads


Top