5 Ways To Stop Sabotaging Writing Dreams

5 Ways To Stop Sabotaging Writing Dreams

While I’ve been very productive writing for a living, when it comes to working on my memoir, “Confessions of an Undutiful Daughter,” I’ve spent considerable head time thinking about writing instead of writing.

Add to that stress, a neck and back ache, eating too much, avoiding the gym — even ditching walking the dogs, which I love.

I’m entering week two of this self-sabotage loop and my book project is dead in the water.

But why?

As the book project finish line comes into view it’s almost as if I subconsciously don’t want to share all I’ve written, all the cases I’ve collected, all the methods for protecting daughters from toxic moms I know.

Can I really be that selfish?

Here’s my theory. Fear has finally raised its ugly head – – but good.

  • Fear of actually accomplishing a huge goal.
  • Fear of actually writing my first book.
  • Fear of getting it wrong.
  • Fear of getting it right.
  • Fear of toxic mothers burning me in effigy at book signings.

My dad always said turning your back on fear was like walking into the ocean backwards. You were going to get wet anyway, why not dive in?

So here are my 5 ways to fight writing self-sabotage:

1.  Stick to a schedule – From now until April 30 I am scheduling two hours each day to working on the book. If I have to get up early, fine. If I have to skip other things — like doing laundry — fine.
2.  Take care of your health – I am committing to an hour of exercise each day.
3.  Work collaboratively – I will send new work to my editor each Friday for review.
4.  Factor in time for contemplation – I will alternate write and review days to be sure to let my work “rest.” Allowing this float time will help me pare my words down to the bone; crucial for a project like this.
5.  Planning reduces stress – I will write this column each Wednesday in advance of the Sunday run. Lately I’ve been waiting till Friday, even Saturday to write my Sunday column, which is a clear sign of procrastination. No more.

Just declaring all this makes me feel empowered. It makes me feel like I’m suiting up for battle; A really fun, exhilarating battle that I can win.

I’d love to hear from you on this topic of self-sabotage and procrastination.

What strategies work best for you when you are self-sabotaging?


Rayne Wolfe completed her dream journey May of 2011 on 8WD after a year living her dream. You can find her at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook.

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  • Dear Rayne,

    My greatest strategy for completion of the very important tasks in life was born out of the acceptance that the really important things that must be tended to were and are not just for me.

    I have always been a list maker. I take a pen and notebook and over coffee in the morning, make a daily list for chores as well as projects. Before I had my babies, the list was pretty short, consisting of mainly: Get ready for work, go to work, make a list at work.

    With my children so dependant on me for all of the basics and wanting to give my darlings much, much, more in the way of loving care than I ever received, my lists grew longer. Occasionally, I would find myself drowning in piles of dishes, Mount Washmore, food prep, yard work and a million other tasks that caused me to emotionally shut down, develop chronic illness and gain weight. I also thought this was a good time to remove my children from public school and home educate them. About six months into this new adventure, I realized that I needed to find the joy in all of this work. I started making a new kind of list that now begins with “Gratitude”.

    For every single fork I rinse and deliver to the dishwasher, I say, “I am so grateful to have flatware to eat the delicious and nutritious food that our life-style offers.” Each article of clothing that enters the wash gets a “Thank God for the money that buys the clothes to keep us warm and for these machines to clean and dry them instead of a rock that sits along the Nile.”

    I have found that living with this “Attitude of Gratitude”, nothing in my life is difficult. I am cultivating the life of my dreams, this requires work, but it is good work. My children need me to be the very best version of myself every day and they are my motivation. While I know that the people in your “Confessions of an Undutiful Daughter” are not your children, could we be thought of as a motivation? I can tell you that just as my little ones need me, we need this book.

    I really look forward to having you sign my copies of your book!



  • Jayne Speich

    I’m reading a great book right now called Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, by Heidi Grant Halvorsen. What I love about it is it tells you how to use specific frames of mind depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. She says if a goal seems big, overwhelming, or scary, just choose one step and reward yourself for accomplishing it. Focus on WHAT you want to do in that one step, rather than WHY you want to do it, and that way you short-circuit the fear part. For me, if I get through one day without eating something with whipped cream on it, and then reward myself (but not with whipped cream), that’s much less scary than thinking about all the weight I need to lose!

    • Rayne

      I’ve actually read that book. it’s great. maybe I should read it again!

  • Remy G

    The thought that I get stuck in here often: “the life we live and the life we’d live if we were really living. All of those “big things” you have to do to move forward can seem heavy, so break them up in bits. You are in the home stretch, girl – keep going! xox REm

  • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

    I love author, marketer, web 2.0 guru Set Godin and what he says about The Dip, our lizard brain and procrastination in his book Linchpin –

    “The lizard brain adores a deadline that slips, an item that doesn’t ship and most of all, busywork. These represent safety, because if you don’t challenge the status quo, you can’t be made fun of, can’t fail, can’t be laughed at. And so the resistance looks for ways to appear busy while not actually doing anything.”


    “I stopped writing this book a dozen times. Each time, the force that got me to pick it up again was the resistance. I realized that my lizard brain was afraid of this book, which is the best reason I can think of to write it.”

    or there’s author Steven Pressfield’s take on procrastination, which he calls “resistance” –

    “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the un-lived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.”

    So obviously every great author has been there. The first step they say is acknowledging it, which you have done here.

    To help me with “resistance” I keep a to-do list, and update it first thing in the morning and at night before I go to bed. At night, I set my priorities for the next day so I tackle my most urgent matters first in the morning. Then after the most pressing tasks are completed I make myself do the “worst” jobs next (at least one). If I keep putting something off I create a right column on my To-Do list of “Things I keep putting off” and I list the items and the number of days I’m procrastinating on them. This helps me acknowledge what I am doing. If it gets really bad then I tell someone to ask me about it on a certain day – Remy is great for that. She can really hold you accountable.


    • Rayne

      You know someone else just told me I need to make daily lists and I’m going to try that. I really like the public life and the internal life and the space in between. It’s a space where a lot of pressure builds up and I also beat myself up a lot for not doing something that only I know I intended to do. Funny Stuff!