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Dealing with self-sabotage

Is it a writer’s greatest supervillain?

David Gane
David Gane
2 min read

Have you ever had a project coming along wonderfully...when suddenly, it isn't?

The work grinds to a halt because something doesn't feel quite right. Perhaps you want to do a little tweaking, or maybe a complete rewrite.

Or perhaps something more devious is at play.

There's a good chance you've entered the world of self-sabotage, a treacherous place where we become our own worst enemies.

Below are five links that let us know what it's all about, and more importantly, how to fix it.

  1. The School of Life explores why we might self-sabotage: "...success can sometimes bring about as many anxieties—which may ultimately culminate in a desire to scupper our chances in a bid to restore our peace of mind."
  2. Tina Essmaker suggests that self-sabotage happens due to change:
    "As human beings, we are averse to risk and change feels risky. So know that it’s a normal part of the process to find yourself avoiding or even sabotaging the change you set out to make."
  3. I've mentioned this one before, but James Altucher's Idea Machine is a perfect remedy to the problem: "Ideas are infinite. But once you define your capacity of good ideas (“half”) then they instantly become finite for you. Not for anyone else. But just for you..."
  4. In this video from Podia, Ben Toalson reminds us to gather real data before we judge our work: "You wouldn't tell somebody about how amazing a restaurant is if you hadn't actually eaten there, but that's similar to what you're doing when you overanalyze."
  5. Finally, Mason Currey shares a guest post from Beth Pickens on art paralysis and fear, as well as a path through it: "When we lovingly, compassionately contend with our fear, we can navigate around it, discovering that we have choices."

Self-sabotage has always been one of my greatest supervillains. It sneaks up on me while I'm not looking and takes me down, and it hampered me a lot this week—on my writing projects and this newsletter.

The biggest source of it came from change and building new patterns in areas I'm not yet comfortable with. Recognizing this facet was important, as was focusing on small daily tasks to move forward. I leaned into journaling and time-blocking, and while I'm not completely out of it, I'm back on track and doing the work.

So hopefully my journey through it may help you—whether you're in a similar situation or know that you're susceptible. If you are like me, acknowledging it is truly the most important step.

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If you're looking for an exciting mystery read, the Shepherd & Wolfe series is now available online.


David Gane Twitter

Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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