#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller


The best trick I ever learned…

For generating ideas, I mean.
And ideas come in handy, don’t they?
Not just story ideas, but ideas for living, for solving problems, and making dreams come true.
Are you on the edge of your seat yet?
You should be.
Now, breathe….

Here’s the trick. (I learned it from Brian Tracy, motivational speaker and self-help writer extraordinaire. I want that clear up front. It’s his idea, not mine, and IT REALLY WORKS.)

It’s the list of 20.
When I first get a concept, or a character, in mind, I ask myself, pen and paper at hand:
What are twenty things I need to know about this character?
What are twenty things that could happen in this story?
Then I write.
As with the Morning Pages, this is a stream-of-consciousness thing. You go as fast as you can, and you don’t judge along the way. The first few ideas, in fact, are usually stupid. Great. You’ve got them out of the way, so you can get to the good stuff, the stuff you wouldn’t even have thought about, if you hadn’t been willing to wade through the sludge first!

Do you see how this technique could be used for anything?

What are twenty things I’m not facing?
What are twenty things–little things–I could do right now, today, to feel better?
You take it from here.

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“Keep your ear to the ground” referred to the practice of plainsmen listening to the ground to hear hoof beats. It became the westerner’s warning to stay alert.

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