Advice for a Struggling Writer (Please)

The written word is something I’ve felt passionate about for a long time. I fell in love with literature at a young age, even taught myself how to read because I wanted to be able to read things other than the small chapter books they provided us at school. I wrote my first short story when I was eight years old. A total load of tripe it was, but I was immensely proud of it.

I wrote voraciously as a teenager. Short stories, poetry, fic….I even attempted my hand at novel-writing, though I never got very far with any of my ideas.

Back then, I never really stopped to consider the quality of my writing. Indeed, as far as I was concerned, I was good at my craft. And I enjoyed writing. The whole process of coming up with an idea then building on it to create a final, finished product was exciting.

Today, it seems the only thing I feel concerning my writing is how terrible it all sounds. I don’t feel very proud of anything I’ve written in the last handful of years. And the joy I used to feel as I wrote has disappeared to be replaced by disappointment and crushing depression.

I want to hone my craft and maybe make something of it but how? How do I bring those old feelings back? The obvious answer is to write, but that’s easier said than done. Most days I can’t even force myself to touch fingers to keyboard, or paper to pen. Writing anything has become akin to pulling teeth and I get down on myself for struggling so hard at something I once thought I excelled at.

So. My question to you guys is: how do you do it? How do you bring yourself to feel good about the work you’ve done. And how do you motivate and inspire yourself to keep going on those days when it’s hard.

Also, if you could give a poor writer a prompt or two to get the creative juices flowing, I would feel much appreciated.