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Writer's Burnout, Imposter Syndrome, And Saying No To Devaluation

Oh, you just have writer’s block. It’ll pass.

Hearing this terribly mediocre accusation exhausts me. I think we all know ourselves as writers: our quirks, the mistakes we’re bound to make but make them anyway, the time frame we need to write in order to be 100% focused, and the exercises we must fulfill in order to keep our creative juices flowing.

I’ve never struggled with writer’s block. I’m either lazy or distracted. And believe me, I can get distracted. So much that a couple doctors actually tested me for ADD. For the record, I do not have ADD, I’m just fascinated with everything: strangers, coffee cups, picture frames. I’m like a social anthropologist—I observe the shit out of life.

So we’ve established that I don’t have writer’s block, but sometimes I just quit writing. I re-read my work after I finish a novel by a literary great, and my brain becomes flooded with you’re definitely not a writer compared to so-and-so, and the ever-agonizing if you do become a famous writer, it’ll be for being a famous bad writer.

When I was admitted into an MFA program for writing fiction, I was waiting for the second call from the admissions office telling me that there has been a mistake. I can go on and on about what an undereducated, terribly awkward, often distracted human I am. No, I don’t get writers block, but I do have intense cases of imposter syndrome. Which inevitably lead me to research a little something called writer’s burnout.

As a writer (if you’re publishing your work to the general public), especially starting out, you play with this fine line between writing for yourself and writing for your audience. Mix in some unhealthy amounts of imposter syndrome, you start deviating from writing for yourself, and start paying more attention to your audience—how to gain more followers, more viewership. It becomes a numbers game until you finally start loosing your voice, the motivation that lit a fire to your stories. And thus, you quit writing. Because you no longer feel like a writer, you feel like a con artist.

This is what happened to me. And it wasn’t just imposter syndrome, it was a combination of finally opening up to my doctor and my mom about an experiences in high school and college that I chose not to talk about. I wanted to be strong, and I had certain humans in my life that treated my words with no weight, and were dead bent on devaluing me, leading to adapting to a low self-esteem at a young age in order to accommodate their voice. Shutting out my emotions, I now realize, has taught me the habit to walk away when things get good. It assisted in the writer’s depression that I so often obtained and couldn’t put a word to it.

Writer’s burnout can only be defeated by grabbing your brain by the throat and saying not today, asshole. In my case, I was adapting to the devaluing voice that as of recently, I decided to ignore. I’m telling you, my beautiful, strong, tiny audience, to Keep Writing. If you have to write a journal entry about your insecurities, do it, but add some elements from your genre to it. I have journal entries stored on my computer that have some magical realism, so if anyone read it, they would think it’s just a story.

Also, stop writing for your audience. Did I loose followers when I told 20,000 followers that I was an atheist? Yeah, a lot. I even received messages about how I was deemed to hell. Did I loose followers when I condemned Donald Trumps on…on everything he says/tweets? I did. But loosing those followers remedied writer’s burnout, my self-esteem. It helped me find my voice again. And that’s something no one can unfollow.

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