You’d think that the experience of success as a writer would boost your confidence and inspire you to write regularly, with vigor and enthusiasm. It sometimes does.
I’ve seen the reverse happen with several writers, who became blocked after hitting their first home run. These challenges are greater when the success comes early and fast. It’s harder to feel like you deserve it if success comes early on or without a lot of effort, and imposter feelings can emerge and sabotage attempts to keep writing. You might think: “My first article was a lucky fluke, and if I write another, I will be revealed as a fraud!” So you stop writing to avoid humiliation.
Success can also stimulate is feelings of not being worthy of the accolades the literary world is bestowing. If your self-esteem is low, praise can feel foreign and threatening. Inner voices may chime in with, “Who do you think you are! You’re not a real writer! You don’t deserve this notoriety!” or variations of this kind of brainwashing.An avoidance of writing in these cases is a way to avoid the cognitive dissonance generated by the conflict between feelings of low self worth and the reality of your capabilities.
The people in your life might not always want you to rise up to your fullest potential.
Your success may bring up feelings of resentment and envy among family, colleagues or friends. Avoiding writing can be a way to avoid ripples in these relationships. One student recalled her father going into a rage upon hearing of her first stories getting published. She was blocked for seven years after that.