#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

Makin’ A List and Checkin’ It Twice

No, I’m not getting ready for Christmas in March.  :)  I’m making a list of things I need to do to work as efficiently as possible and write good books, plus more personal things, like consistent exercise, etc.  Examples: I’ll be writing “The Wager” next, and this is a contemporary Western romance involving a hero, Cord Hollister, who trains horses in the new way, with gentle persuasion, humane treatment, mutual respect and, above all, patience.  I know a bit about horses, but not nearly as much as Cord, since he’s a professional, so I’ll be listening to several very good books on the subject.  I need to know more about my heroine, Shallie Fletcher, who comes to Cord’s ranch to study his methods, so there will be more list making around her goals, etc.  I will also break my 49 page outline, much of which is backstory and will not appear in the actual book, into chapters and, wherever possible, scenes.  My editor, Margo, and I will speak once a week, after she’s read my work, to brainstorm ideas and make sure the story is flowing along nicely, and meets the criteria of any good story, as Kathy Sagan, my Mira editor, and I have done so successfully with–drum roll, please, because the new and most probable title follows: “The Blue and the Gray”.  I LOVE that title, and I hope it passes through the vetting process–as I mentioned in a recent blog, publishing is a co-operative effort, and we all have to agree.  I will need to revise my Christmas novel, which features the Mustang Creek folks, and, finally, revise the Civil War book.  

I’ve always been a list maker; in fact, I start every new book with Lists of 20, a marvelous technique I learned years ago, at a Brian Tracey seminar, which I attended with Debbie Macomber.  The process can be used for any project, and I highly recommend it–the rules are simple.  You start out with a heading, such as (in my case), What are 20 things I know about this book?  This character?  This scene?  I use plain notebook paper and start listing ideas, without judging any of them.  Usually, the first half a dozen or two are downright ridiculous, but as I persist, something wonderful happens.  I start coming up with original stuff I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise, and often, there are many more than 20 potential ideas by the time I finish.  This trick has never failed me and the applications are endless.  Try it.

By making the above lists, I will be able to put all these different projects into working order, by priority.  Since I’m a gold-star girl, I love being able to mark off a task as finished–what satisfaction that gives me!  (Probably why my bullet journals seem to work so well; I use lots of color and art, and I love being able to color in a square because I’ve exercised that day, or met my page quota, etc.)   I would probably accomplish little or nothing without my lists and charts; in my native state, I am wildly creative, yes, but very scattered, too.  I need a plan, and if I can incorporate color and drawings, my right brain is happy to let the left hemisphere have its say.  :)

Today, I came across an audiobook that has me so excited, I have to share.  It’s called “The Five-Second Rule” and the author is Mel Robbins.  I’m not even through listening yet, and I am blown away by this simple tool for getting past procrastination and its evil cousins and taking action.  If you are struggling with analysis paralysis, as they say in the 12 step programs, this is the book for you.  We all have things we know we ought to do, in all areas of our lives, but too often, fear stops us from even trying because–gasp–we might fail.  Well, so what?  Unless we’re in a life or death situation, we won’t die if we fail.  What’s the worst that can happen?  Sure, we might fall on our face, make a fool of ourself, suffer a painful disappointment, but, really, is that the end of the world?  Of course not.  And, well, what if it works?  What if we don’t fail?  We’ll never know if we don’t try.

Mind you, I’m not saying I always jump right in and go for the main chance.  I struggle with doubt every single day of my life, and I’m out to win the fight a little more often.  Hence, “The Five-Second Rule”.  

This amuses me, how I’m supposed to be selling my own books on this blog, and I always seem to be selling someone else’s.  :)  Here’s the thing: if I say something that helps one single person, on this blog or elsewhere, then I have accomplished something important and real.  I see my stories in a similar way–success is nice, but it isn’t the be-all-and-end-all–if my yarn gets somebody through a hard day, or inspires compassion toward an animal or another human being, or puts a smile on someone’s face, then I’m happy.  And if, when I’m gone, somebody says, “That ole cowgirl was good to me”, that will be all the success anybody could ask for.

Have yourself a wonderful weekend, and be kind to every living creature, including your own dear self.  A smile, a touch of the hand, a little well-placed forgiveness, well, any or all of these might make a bigger difference to the recipient than you can possibly imagine.  


38 comments to “Makin’ A List and Checkin’ It Twice”

  1. Teresa Fordice
      · March 10th, 2017 at 3:02 pm · Link

    Very timely and great Advice!

  2. Elaine Key
      · March 10th, 2017 at 3:56 pm · Link

    I have fibromyalgia and I have found I don’t have the energy to accomplish everything that needs to be done. So it doesn’t get done. When I was younger, I could clean the whole house in one day. Now at age 62, I clean the kitchen and that’s all I can do for the day. I am worn out. So yes, I am a procrastinator. Maybe if I make a list of what needs to be accomplished, I will get more done. It will just take me longer.

    I don’t understand the List of 20.

  3. Monika
      · March 10th, 2017 at 3:58 pm · Link

    Thank you for your constant words of inspiration. I always enjoy reading your blog and getting names of books I would not otherwise have found. So looking forward to all your new books . Wishing you many blessings.

  4. Marge
      · March 10th, 2017 at 3:59 pm · Link

    Wow, I am glad to know that there are other list makers. I make list for everything and I keep journals, like what I want to sew, for who and when.
    My list are usually in duplicate. I also keep multiple calendars and list for my mother, who is a fan of yours and will be 101 yrs young this May.
    I am not annal, I like to think just organized.
    Keep those great books coming.

  5. Linda
      · March 10th, 2017 at 4:02 pm · Link

    Thank you! I needed this today!

  6. Virginia Horton
      · March 10th, 2017 at 4:05 pm · Link

    Thank you. You inspired me today because things have not been real great lately.

  7. Melaine
      · March 10th, 2017 at 4:17 pm · Link

    You are so right about how something as small as a smile or a quick hug can make a big difference to someone. It tells them you care even if you don’t know them.

  8. dixie hadley
      · March 10th, 2017 at 4:36 pm · Link

    Thank you for those wonde4ful and inspiring words. Have a blessed week end yourself

  9. Marcia White
      · March 10th, 2017 at 4:39 pm · Link

    I love your blogs! They are so full of information, inspiration, life and interesting random factoids.

  10. Edna Dutra
      · March 10th, 2017 at 5:01 pm · Link

    You sure are organized. I hate making lists but I do like making my environs neat so maybe I’m an organized person. When I was working everyone commented on how organized I was but I sure wasn’t. It just looked like it!!!!
    However, I do look forward to your contemporaries. I’m not a fan of historical novels but that’s not saying they’re bad. Just a personal preference!
    And it’s snowing here on Cape Cod. And in the single digits temp-wise! At 88 I don’t like that either. Oh well, they do say spring is coming.
    Thanks for all your books.

  11. Teresa W
      · March 10th, 2017 at 5:03 pm · Link

    Linda, thank you for bringing a smile to this ol’ country girls face today! (My furry BFF collie of 15 years this mnth) sends a big smile and a tail wagging too for helping brightening up his mama’s day. :-> <3

  12. Janet Hurt
      · March 10th, 2017 at 5:07 pm · Link

    Ha! I too am a prolific list maker! It has helped me get thru so many mundane tasks…except when I forget where I put my list!
    Have a great weekend.

  13. Jan Mauldin
      · March 10th, 2017 at 5:11 pm · Link

    You have a BLESSED WEEKEND

  14. Leanna
      · March 10th, 2017 at 5:24 pm · Link

    I love to make lists, it’s nice to feel you have accomplished something when you check an item off the list.

  15. Pamela Devereux
      · March 10th, 2017 at 5:28 pm · Link

    Wow! The 5 second rule means something totally different in our household. My kids said that if a piece of food lands on the floor and you pick it up within 5 seconds, you are good to eat it.

    As for making lists, that all started for me when I started working in an office. I had to do that to stay organized. Which in turn made me do that in my personal life. I love my neon color 3×5 cards. I make my list and leave it on top on my laptop computer. Once the card is through for the day, out it goes.

  16. Doris Brooks
      · March 10th, 2017 at 6:33 pm · Link

    My daughter taught me to make lists. For a couple reasons (not excuses) things at my house have been totally disorganized. I get tired even thinking about it. Felt like I was drowning some days. She was here with me for a few days and said, “Mama, start making lists and it feels so good when you can mark off completed ones.” I found she is right and I’m getting more done rather than flitting from one thing to another and not getting anything done. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Look forward to your next book.

  17. Gloria Herring
      · March 10th, 2017 at 6:39 pm · Link

    Linda, a friend of mine from NV has been telling me about the 5 minute rule for years, and I just can’t follow it. If I EVER get started on something, I want to keep going till it’s finished. But, getting started is the hard part for me. Do you think there is any hope? :)

    I pray you have a good and Godly weekend.

    • Gloria Herring
        · March 12th, 2017 at 6:15 pm · Link

      I should also say…I make lists, but I either can’t find them, or I forget about them, or I do something not on my list, so…it seldom works for me. But, when it does, it is a good thing.:)

  18. Carol Luciano
      · March 10th, 2017 at 7:43 pm · Link

    I love this post . So inspiring and positive. I make lists and love the feeling of achievement when I’ve done what’s on that list. I don’t do it regularly though only when I know it will be an overwhelming week. Thank you Linda for your blog posts. Have a wonderful weekend.
    Carol L

  19. Ruby Norwood
      · March 10th, 2017 at 7:47 pm · Link

    Thank you Linda for this blog today, as my mom use to say you hit the nail on the head. I do make list out all the time, I first started at the office years ago and then I retired a couple of years ago and now some days, I think I would be lost without my list.

  20. Eugenia Riddick
      · March 10th, 2017 at 8:00 pm · Link

    I am guilty of procrastination. Yet, I dislike being rushed. I need to do much better

  21. Lois Rotella
      · March 10th, 2017 at 8:14 pm · Link

    I guess we all have a procrastination in us. I use to be organized but lately I have fallen off that track. I need to get back on the train. Have a great weekend.

  22. Jo Ann Holcomb
      · March 10th, 2017 at 8:46 pm · Link

    loved your blog today & how true. looking forward to your new one & hope it’s a short series, maybe? as i’ve said about Debbie Macomber’s books have read all of yours also. you also have a great weekend & the best, Jo Ann

  23. Roberta Giordano
      · March 10th, 2017 at 9:25 pm · Link

    Have a nice weekend !

  24. Lorelei Sawtelle
      · March 10th, 2017 at 9:59 pm · Link

    Thank you for the great ideas, Cowgirl. You are good for me.

  25. Ann Bartholomew
      · March 10th, 2017 at 10:07 pm · Link

    How nice to get so many blogs this week! I am in reread mode and just finished Corbin’s Fancy. I wondered how the cover is chosen. Jeff is a sea captain but the cover looks like a cowboy. I just wondered. The Corbin’s are quite a family.

  26. Sharon Sovereign
      · March 10th, 2017 at 10:17 pm · Link

    Plan to chill out this weekend and relax, rest up. I had a busy week. Hope your plans work out.

  27. Lea Williams
      · March 10th, 2017 at 10:31 pm · Link

    I make lists and then don’t look at them again. Makes me really mad at myself. I do have a plan every day in my head but it is easily distracted. Hope you have a good weekend. We are going to be home waiting for our baby calves.

  28. Deborah Nelson
      · March 10th, 2017 at 10:42 pm · Link

    Thanks for another great book suggestion. “The 5 Second Book” is in my list. Oh! I love lists too!

    And looking forward to “The Wager.”

  29. Lynn Hill
      · March 11th, 2017 at 10:36 am · Link

    I just love reading your newsletters. They are always so uplifting and inspiring.Thank you for being such a beautiful person!

  30. Roz Goodenough
      · March 11th, 2017 at 12:19 pm · Link

    I love your mind, your talent and your determination to get thinngs done You are an inspiration! R

  31. Susan in AZ
      · March 11th, 2017 at 1:19 pm · Link

    Blue and the Gray? How unimaginative. Tell your Editor to grow her brain. Not to mention that a simple Amazon search will pull up 4 books and 1 movie with that same exact title already. North of Redemption is more original, especially if a battle had been wrought near a creek called Redemption.

    Make a List of 20 items you wish the title to convey: past trauma, hope for a better future, open to a relationship, need for roots and a permanent home…

    • linda
        · March 13th, 2017 at 3:46 pm · Link

      Good ideas!

  32. Donna McCord
      · March 11th, 2017 at 3:54 pm · Link

    I have to make lists too. Only way I can remember things I need to do.

  33. Jane
      · March 12th, 2017 at 7:52 am · Link

    Thanks, Linda. Lots of ideas.

  34. Helen Gaines
      · March 12th, 2017 at 11:45 pm · Link

    Linda, just wanted you to know that your blogs are very inspirational to me. They always make me feel good and smile. So just keep on keeping on!!!

  35. midge watkins
      · March 13th, 2017 at 4:47 pm · Link

    You have accomplished “all of the above”. I’m going to try and
    find that book!

  36. Pat Parker
      · March 16th, 2017 at 6:08 pm · Link

    You are such a special person. What you say warms my heart .

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

:wink: :-| :-x :twisted: :) 8-O :( :roll: :-P :oops: :-o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :-D :evil: :cry: 8) :arrow: :-? :?: :!: