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Less than five years ago, if introduced to someone new, I would never utter the words, “I’m a writer.” If prodded about hobbies, I might say, “I’m trying to write a book,” or “I do some writing on the weekends.” I was writing a novel at the time, but, in my mind, I wasn’t a “writer.” That was too lofty a title for the likes of me.

So, what was I willing to admit that I was five years ago? A lawyer, a director at a corporation, a mother. All of those were okay for me to claim: I had the degree, I had the job, I had the kids. Look, see, here they all are. The writer thing was slippery, translucent. I wasn’t being paid for it. I didn’t have the certificate. It was what other people could say who had their names on the spines of books. I couldn’t put myself in that group.

In fact, what I was saying, or not saying, was that I didn’t think I had the right to the title of writer. I was drawing a line between me and the authors, and I wasn’t crossing it. And if, subconsciously, I always saw this line between us, would I ever believe I could be over there with them? Would I ever jump across?

In the past five years, I’ve made some headway. Writing is a five-day-a-week habit. I’ve allowed others to read my writing.  I’ve talked to my children about my writing. I’ve attended several workshops and conferences. I’ve sent out some query letters and even entered a few contests. All of these acts have brought me closer to the line; they have even allowed me to say, occasionally, “I write.”

But has the line disappeared? I have to be honest and say “no.” I’ve come a long way, but I’m still doing it, this boxing-in. I noticed it just today. I was emailing a friend, someone who knows I write, and I was describing the work I’m doing on my current book. And when I reached the point where I was characterizing my draft, I suddenly stopped. I was already typing something akin to “it’s so bad it needs to be entirely rewritten.” But then, hands poised over the keys, I asked myself, is this true, Kristin? Is this what the comments about my book really said? Or is this what I think deep inside, what I feel about my writing, a mindset that will sabotage me every time?

Humility is a good thing. Believing you can always learn more and get better is, I believe, the best way to be. But succumbing to your inner critic, that being who tells you you’re never going to make it, is bad. Fight against it. And, maybe, write this to yourself, so you can look at it sometimes and repeat it in your head: “I’m a good writer.” Or if, like me, this statement still seems too far out there for you, start with something else, something like this: “I believe in me.”