A writer friend told me she needed more of two things: time and judgment. Then she said her life had more ups and downs than a merry-go-round. Who can’t relate to that? Doesn’t it fit the universe itself? Time and judgment go in cycles. Feast or famine, they say. Too much time, not enough time. Careful consideration, jumping to conclusions. No, getting the right balance of time and judgment is not easy.
Time and Judgment
A young woman once asked, “How do you gain good judgment?” Her mentor replied, “Through experience.” The woman considered that a moment and asked, “How do you get experience?” The mentor smiled. “Poor judgment.”
I’m as guilty of having that as the next person, but I try to put my poor judgment to work. Sometimes, experience only helps us recognize the same mistake when we make it again. How we handle it is up to us. My plan is to live, learn, make mistakes, get back up, dust off my hands, and keep going.
Poor judgment can be a bitter lesson, but it doesn’t have to stop us. If we get back up one more time than we fall, we will succeed. It’s as simple — and difficult — as that.
Let me share one of my mistakes in judgment with you, and then you share one of yours. Maybe we’ll learn from each other. Life is too short to make all the mistakes out there. That’s why we have friends and family who advise us how to avoid them and to be good examples. Sometimes, of what should not be done! Remember, the key is balance in time and judgment — not perfection.
When I was in my twenties, I knew I wanted to write. It was something I’d always dreamed of doing. I had my first child at twenty-five, and had little free time to spend on myself. Two more children followed within the next few years. I decided I’d start writing when the kids started school. But then I went back to work. Time was even more precious.
When I had my fiftieth birthday, I was no closer to being published than I had been at twenty-five. I realized my biggest problem was that I was waiting to find time. I stopped doing that, and started making time. I found an organization site online (Get Organized Now) that helped me figure out how to be more efficient. I scheduled television and limited it to a few hours per week. You know what made me realize TV watching had to be limited? There are rarely scenes of people watching TV on TV, because instead, they’re living their lives. I was watching them live it. I needed to go live my own. I planned meals with my local grocery store’s shopping list program and shopped more quickly with lists. I shopped on Amazon using their Prime program instead of in stores for some of the things I needed. It was amazing how much time those simple things freed up for me. I didn’t give up shopping locally — that builds our community. But I do shop online when it’s needed.
I wrote daily, at least fifteen minutes a day without excuse. I read books on writing. I read the kind of books I wanted to write. I subscribed to a few writer newsletters. One, by Daphne Gray-Grant, I still read every week. It offer tips on writing faster and better. I joined a critique group online. I networked. Within four months, I had a contract for my first book.
One of the best things I ever did was create a group called Marketing for Romance Writers. I wanted a place where authors could ask each other for advice on any topic and get an answer. I didn’t want it to be a promo site where everyone shouted, “buy my book!” so I set it up right away as a business-only site. It has flourished over the years. It’s still one of the most efficient sites out there. Peer-mentoring is a great way to learn.
My poor judgment was waiting for time. I had to learn to make it.
What’s your “poor judgment” / “big mistake” and how did you overcome it? I’d love to hear how learning better time and judgment made a difference for you. Please share it in the comments.