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My mind plays tricks on me. There are times when I am dozing off to sleep that I will remember a sentence I wrote earlier and the errors in it will stand out like a blue shirt against a white background. “How could I make such a dumb mistake?” I will ask myself.

Because I have already hit the send button to an editor, to a journal or for one of my blogs, I will feel so stupid thinking that the whole world now knows my inadequacies, deficiencies and the gaps in my knowledge of perfect grammar.

During these times, I will get up and check what I have sent. Many times I didn’t make the error I was positive I made. (There are times though when I reread what I sent and am horrified that I didn’t pick up on stupid and simple mistakes).

I am so hard on myself during those times. I feel like I am an imposter who doesn’t deserve the title of writer. I say to myself, “If I can’t get the basics right, how can I consider myself a writer?”

For a while, the punishment I put myself through for making mistakes seems like it will overwhelm me and I will stop writing completely. But in the long run, it is the pressure, the feeling of being an imposter, the desire to call me a writer and feel it, the desire to write something both beautiful and without errors that keep me going to classes and workshops.

I know I am harder on myself than I need to be, but when the initial weight of criticism leaves me, it makes me do more to master the craft. I sign up for another class, I read another book, and I push and push.

I bet many of you are hard on yourselves, too. I find the process of learning new things uncomfortable but my desire to be better than I was a year ago, a month ago, last week, and yesterday keeps me looking for opportunities to learn.

Do you get past the criticism of yourself and look for new avenues to drive down that will lead you to places you thought might be impossible to visit?  If you do, in time we can walk to the door of some cool house and maybe even have the key to getting in.