Struggling with Output and Self-Worth as a Writer

A few thoughts and psychology-backed resources on changing toxic thought patterns for writers


Text by Author

One of the biggest parts of my personal development and therapy journies has been tackling the ugliest beliefs I have about myself. And that’s my identity as a writer.

After a year of therapy, well, I can see where for a lot of us, the journey is more complicated than that. If you’re working to heal from any kind of internal wound, you might have more steps to untangle first than you could ever imagine at the beginning. But I don’t want this to sound deterring—it’s almost liberating to realize that you might be a little different from others. Suddenly it makes sense why things are harder for you and others find them so easy.

There’s a particular sticky spot I’ve found in the flawed avenues of my thinking.

No matter how much I educate myself or how many therapists say it, it’s hard to detangle self-worth from writing.

I’ll literally repeat to myself, “you’re more than your output,” but there’s a little voice in the back of my head that’s always thinking, “but that’s not really true. That’s just what you tell yourself to feel less depressed.”

In a way, it’s almost funny to hear these thoughts passing through my head now that I’m more aware of them. I know they aren’t good. I know they aren’t serving their goals. But if you feel similarly, then you also know how hard it is to change the patterns even once you’re aware of them. But of course, awareness is still that first step.

For me, these feelings of worthlessness are related to depression. It manifests in my inability to see my own worth outside of what I create. But even as I work more on my mental health, there are always other factors that influence how we feel about our output. In a capitalist society, it’s hard not to see our output as correlational to our self-worth when it determines how much money we have left after paying essential…



Leigh Victoria Fisher, MS

Brooklyn-based writer and poet. Designer in NYC. Drinks books and loves coffee. Has an MS from NYU in Integrated Design & Media. Working on an MFA in Fiction.