How To Use Trello To Get A Better Handle on Your Writing


We all seem to be looking for that magic writing pill.

The ONE, super secret, but still super easy thing that will make us super productive, get us writing magical words, and finishing all our projects with record speed.

But guess what?

There is no magic pill.

You can now stop looking for it.

See? I’ve just saved you a ton of time and aggravation. Time you can actually spend with your butt in the chair writing.

Cheer up though. There’s a silver lining because I think I’ve found something really, really close.

Enter Trello.

On no, not another web app, you say?

What is Trello you say?

In their own words, Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.

I know, I know. There are a bazillion project management/to-do list/collaboration apps out there.

What makes Trello different?

It’s visual.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you know I’m a big process person. And I like to visualize the entire process of completing whatever I’m working on before starting. And once I’ve started, I like to know exactly where I am in the process and exactly what the next steps are.

Tello is the perfect tool for this.

If you're like me and like to visualize your process, Trello is the perfect tool. Click To Tweet

And it’s free!

There is a premium version, but it’s super cheap (something like 5 bucks a month) and with it, you can do cool things like add snazzy backgrounds to your boards.

Here’s how I’ve set my boards up in Trello.

DM – this is a board I use to set up my business model as a whole, it’s a broad focus board that lets me see at a glance exactly what I need to do to make money. Lists include fiction writing, freelance writing, client services etc.

2015 – this is the board I use to list my major projects for 2015. After I’ve spent some time planning how I want my year to go, I make a list for every major project I want to get done before years end.

Q 1-4 – In these boards, I break my yearly goals down my quarter. Each board has a general list for targets I want to hit during the quarter and then a list for each month in that quarter.

Weekly Workflow – This is the board I refer to the most. I break it down by type of work, so I have a list for writing, admin work, meetings etc. Then I have a list for my current focus items. A list for this week. A list for next week. And a list for this month. And a list the breaks down my five daily principles so that when I feel like I’m losing focus, I can review and put my energy into doing one of those things.

Clients – This is the board a use to keep track of my client projects. There’s a list for every client I’m currently working with so that I know exactly what’s left to do on each of their projects.

Writing – This board is divided into lists such as fiction, non-fiction, short stories, articles etc. This is where I keep track of my general writing ideas and projects. Then there is a done list where I move all projects as I finish them.

Short Stories – I keep a list of general concepts here and then when I’m ready to develop them, I move them through stages (brainstorming, outlining, beating, drafting, revising, editing, submitted, published).

Freelance Writing – I keep my list of article ideas here  and then move them through stages (outlined, pitched, writing, edited, submitted, published, invoiced).

Book Status – All my  book ideas, no matter how crazy sounding go here.  I then move the books I’m working on through stages (brainstorm, pre-write, outline, draft, revise, edit, critique).

Publication Status – First I make a list of books and then I list of every step in the publication process. I move the card with the book title to just under the card that indicates the current step or stage it’s in (concept, brainstorm, pre-write, draft, 1st pass, 2nd pass, fine polish, feedback, production and proof, pre-launch and launch).

Scene Board – This board is for whichever book I’m writing on (currently White Rabbit). I list all my scenes and then move the cards through the processes. The act of just moving the cards along the board helps me keep better track of what I need to do to finish my book and also helps me to move a little faster (outline, draft, evaluate, edit, polish, critique, proofread, done).

Study – This is for programs I’m taking, and books I’m reading.

Marketing – This is how I maximize my marketing efforts, especially my time on social media, by making sure I have a specific list of tasks to do on a specific network. I use labels to indicate whether an item needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly and also to indicate whether an item is done or not and on what day.

Other cool features are that you can attach images and other files to specific cards, you can invite people to a board (super helpful when working with clients or when collaborating with other writers).

Y’all, I’m in love.

I’ve been getting so much more done simply because of the feeling of unparalleled satisfaction I get when I can click on a card and drag it across to another list because it’s done. Being able to physically see what’s left to do helps as well because it takes all the guess work out of what you should be doing next. You just think about it once and then keep doing. It also helps memore accurately determine how long a project is going to take.

What are some ways you can think of to use Trello? Let me and your fellow writers know in the comments.


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