This refers to that activity of mental and behavioural self-improvement namely self-pruning. You kill off and remove the parts of yourself that don’t work for you. They don’t give you the results in life that you’re looking for, they’re extra baggage, don’t feel sorry for them.
The featured image, which I show again here, is very symbolic of this process. The woman represents the conscious mind, in her eyes you can see sadness, fear and perhaps even regret. She is gripping the knife until her knuckles go white, but she is prepared.
She is in a dark place where old habits and beliefs prevail. In the shadows a figure with red eyes lurks, we cannot see what he holds but it could be another knife. The woman is prepared to defend herself.
The problem with this is, even in self defence this kind of killing still leaves a stain of blood upon you, and still leaves it’s mark upon your soul. Often these creatures of the shadows simply vanish only to reappear at other times in your life.
‘Dammit! I already slew this monster,’ you cry.
Slaying the dragon is a common trope in fiction. It is that evil one must slay to be reborn as a better individual, but many of us (women in particular perhaps) already carry the pain, suffering and guilt of humanity, and what if slaying the dragon is the wrong mythic journey for us?
What if instead, all that is needed is to shine a little light upon the darkness, and so the vampyric nature of these inner demons could be burnt away finally giving you the peace you crave?
In a more practical sense for writers the sorts of inner demons we face are procrastination, creative block, self-deprecation etc. Berating yourself for these qualities, stabbing at them viciously and forcing yourself to go through them is often counterproductive, at least for me. A better action is to honour how you feel in the moment, shine the light of conscious thought upon it. Reason through the core of why you feel this way and watch it fizzle into nothing.
I’ll leave you with another thought: what if all your character creations are just different representations of yourself and whenever you kill a character, you’re really killing a part of yourself?