How does a person know when he or she has become a master at something?
Editors at every level, from students to established professionals, question their creative abilities. From one day to the next, their feelings can go from total confidence to utter hopelessness. One reason for this emotional fluctuation is that editors lack a concrete method of measuring their progress. Their feelings are usually based on isolated events (e.g., screenings) that can go well or go poorly depending on a variety of factors — some of which they may not be able to control.
Mastery requires sustained effort, unflagging commitment, and resilience in the face of failure. Routine practice and critical thinking are the two vehicles of mastery, the results of which cannot — and should not — be measured from day to day.