Stuck in Self-Sabotage Mode? Recover with One Step

The following is a rundown of my writing routine one day last week. Maybe you can relate.

I clicked through Facebook.

I clicked on some viral videos.

I watched a movie trailer.

The day before, I’d just finished a draft of an eBook that I sent to my editor.

This eBook was different from my other works-in-progress that I’d written.

I planned on publishing this one.

And I liked it.


When I complete the final draft, I’m going to upload and publish the eBook on Amazon in order to make it available for sale to readers.


I’m actually going to get paid for my hard work.

I should’ve been happy on this day.

I was finally going to take that step toward my dream.

I’ve traveled a long journey from that first initial spark of that dream at twelve years old to today.

My heartbeat though thumped with annoyance.

What was my problem?

I don’t like completing a project.


Because I have to start another one, and then that fear, that self-doubt returns again.

That day I knew my inner critic would return, so instead of writing, I procrastinated, than blamed it on writer’s block.

And I found myself in the same situation.

I’d been stuck.

In self-sabotage mode.

Like a glitch in a video game, I continued to perform the same actions over-and-over as fear zapped away my courage and drained away my self-confidence. I’d been a battery without the power to fuel me.

And in order to fill a blank page and overcome procrastination, I needed that creative energy.

This always happens to me, I thought as I watched another video, guilt darkening my mood. My poor writing and work habits flashed before my eyes like the scenes in that video.   

This is ridiculous. I need to find a way to thwart this fear. I need to find a way to recover when I’m stuck in self-sabotage mode.

Then like an avalanche, the answer slammed into me.

BAM! I’d talked about it in my eBook. Why wasn’t I listening to my own advice?

I knew how to recover from self-sabotage. I knew I needed something else to ignite the flames of inspiration. I knew I needed to remove those feelings of fear. I knew I needed to replace a negative emotion with a positive one.

And I knew what helped me when I had a difficult time starting this eBook.

An image.

An image helped me recover from self-sabotage. One step. That’s all.

Ugh. I remember dragging my hands down my face. That moment when I minimized Scrivener in order to open up another window, so I could type in the address for Pixabay, a website with free stock photos for use.

I’d known that I wanted to try and compare my self-doubt to a neglected home. The dust, dirt and shadows reminded me of a cell.

And my mind had been that prison.

Often when I experienced self-doubt, it’d seemed as if I’d become trapped in my own debilitating mind.

So I scanned photographs of crumbling sheds and cabins.

No. No. No. Nothing had piqued my interest.

Then…Wow, I thought, recalling the way I blinked when I spotted the photograph nestled beside hundreds of other stock images.

This photograph spoke to me, targeted that innate creative fire burning for release.

This is it. I leaned forward. Before I even clicked on the image adrenaline began pumping through me, spiking my creativity.

The photograph featured a darkened room with faded brown walls and scarred floorboards. A brick fireplace and a chair stood in the middle of the room. Shadows circled the area.

I clicked again.

And I had a chance to see the darkened image up close, the details that made me freeze.

Ooh, that’s creepy. I shivered as the image filled my computer screen. And despite that initial response, the photograph didn’t erase the sensory feelings that followed:

In that photo, I could hear the floorboards creak beneath my feet, feel the dirt coating my skin, smell the scent of dust filling the air, tickling my throat. I could see the dark shadows flickering off the walls of my own mind.

Because that was what this photograph did for me.

It reminded me of what it’d been like to be filled with debilitating self-doubt. It reminded me of what it’d been like to be cornered by my own mind.

It reminded me of what it’d been like to be stuck in self-sabotage.

One dark shadow, the figure of a human standing out beyond the rest.

This is the shadow of my inner demon.

And I’ve let him run my dreams for way too long.

It was time to conquer this demon. Again.

And that journey starts with overcoming self-sabotage and learning how to be a productive writer – and in a few days – an author.

That image helped me write the introduction and helped me to complete the draft of my eBook that I sent to my editor.

All it took was an image and the inner call of my other voice present in my mind.

My muse.

My muse is the light that removes these shadows from my mind.

My muse is also the voice of my self-confidence.

Sometimes when we’re stuck trying to complete a writing project, we think we only hear that negative voice, that voice of the critic.

But we don’t.

Listen carefully.

Your muse, your self-confidence is present. You just need to find that light of inspiration that pushes those demons away like rain washes away dirt after a storm. Flood your mind with the light of your muse and you’ll recover from self-sabotage.

An image helped me re-enter the game of writing. Find an image that does the same for you.

What images have released you from self-sabotage mode and prompted you to finish a writing project? I’d love to hear in the comments!