Writers live in their own world, gladly, but sometimes it becomes a messy place.
The temptation may be to wear ear protectors to keep all the ‘good’ stuff from falling out before its time.
Currents of conversations, snippets of scenes, puzzling plots, character quirks (heroic or hateful) -- all roll around in a writer’s head, vying for storage space.
Several years past, the organization tool: Trello came on my radar.
Whether writers are ‘pantser’ or obsessively organized, Trello can be the light at the end of the tunnel.
Think of Trello as a large message board filled with Post-it (sticky notes, if preferred) notes galore, color-coding, sharing options, drag and drop, schedule capabilities, external linking, and artwork add-ons. Trello can be a highly useful tool to organize the writer’s mind.
Trello has been my organizational hero:
1) useful whether starting at the beginning with just a nudge of an idea
2) to plotting – partial or full
3) to character analysis
4) to keeping all the details straight
After joining Trello (I have the basic version because it gets the job done for me), writers can set up one or multiple ‘Boards’. Click ‘Add a Board’.
Start simple – 1st board – Work In Progress:
a) Inside the Board, set up ‘Lists’ or columns.
b) Title the list and start adding ‘cards’ or sticky notes.
The initial information on the card could be detailed such as thesis sentence, or a tidbit, one tiny bit of crucial information. If the initial information is kept basic, then a click on the card will open an array of options.
c) Now for some fun: Under ‘Edit the description’, it’s possible to add detailed information. The sky’s the limit as to what can fill the edit the description space. From a plotting stand-point, the card may be titled: 1st External Turning Point – (Crossing The Threshold for my purposes, if you are familiar with Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero Journey’.) However, under ‘Edit the description’ there may be a bullet list, multiple descriptive sentences, or references to other corresponding cards.
Additionally, the cards allow for:
For writers who collaborate, critique groups who work long distance, editors who require updates, adding members who can sign on through their individual Trello account and see instant data can eliminate long emails, missed deadlines, or gruesome plot holes.
‘Labels’ are a color-coded option that will allow writers:
1) To pluck a vital character trait and then weave that thread all the way through story development,
2) To layout secondary characters, their introduction, purpose, and scene schedules,
3) To initiate plot points (external & internal) and then deliver the story promise at The End.
The ‘checklist’ and ‘due date’ options are additional steps to keep projects on track.
Finally, the ‘attachment’ option is as wide-open as the Internet itself. Whatever picture, reference source, website or blog mention that is necessary to the story’s development can be linked and labeled with a few clicks.
Imagine that this becomes manageable:
As one who thinks better when the story must travel from my imagination and down through my fingertips to a keyboard – the Trello option has opened up a world of organization.
There are Trello apps; Trello inspirational ideas and a large number of professional ‘Power-Ups’ (Trello’s name) add-ons from Google Drive to Twitter to Drop Box to Mailchimp. Search under Power-Up categories to explore the large number of choices.
This NOT a paid advertisement for Trello. The good folks at this company don’t know me from their millions of other customers. This is a recommendation for folks who want to organize their lives and not suffer in the process. I’ve used Trello for over six years and while there are other choices for information management, this one works for me.
For the non-writer –
*I keep an updated list of Books on my Shelf (so I don’t ever buy the same book twice again)
*Handle Christmas lists for consecutive years (again, I don’t buy the same gift for the same person)
*List my DVDs (so the kids won’t buy me the same DVD over and over)
*Share recipes and household tips
*And of course, each of my Works In Progress and every brilliant bouncing idea.
For all these reasons and more . . . I’ve found a way to stay organized and sane at the same time. Not a bad deal.
Plotting . . . Sorting . . . Keeping up with the details – all through Trello.com