Trello: A Great Organizational Tool for Authors

If you are a professional content manager, freelance writer or author who consistently has multiple writing projects to work on simultaneously, you know what it’s like to suddenly be hit with great ideas for your next project — and how frustrating it is to then lose those great ideas because you didn’t jot them down. Or, as an author, you may be struck with inspiration for a fantastic character, plot, scene or even just a cool string of words while you’re stopped at a red light or sitting in the waiting room at the dentist. Later, you’ll curse yourself for not somehow recording all that ingenuity, now lost in the endless blankness of your memory.

Enter Solution: Trello

Trello is an app that will allow you to quickly jot down those ingenious ideas — and much, much more. Trello can be used just as well on your laptop as it can on a mobile device, contrary to a lot of writing apps that are designed solely for mobile devices. It’s an organizational app that allows writers, project managers, collaborators and many others to organize the status and progress of their various projects and/or writing. It has basic, intermediate and advanced functions to accommodate the individual, the small team and the large project collaboration.

Basic to Advanced Uses of Trello

Basic — Individual authors can make significant organizational use of Trello’s private boards for each writing project with their own cards, attachments, photos, links and checklists. You can think of a board as a mini-file with see-through contents. For example, you can start a board called “Science Fiction Novel,” and create cards within that board for:

  • Ideas
  • Chapter outlines
  • Character development
  • Works in progress
  • Completed chapters

For each of these cards, you can attach files, links, images and much more, while also adding your own comments.

Intermediate — This level of usage is better used by small teams. For example, a small team of freelancers can use multiple boards, invite members to each of those and “assign” cards to various members, so that each freelancer can read his or her assignment, comments, related links and any other relevant content. Other cards within that same board can be used for completed assignments and assignments ready to post.

Advanced — The extras that can be used with Trello seem to be endless. All types of large projects and collaborations can use advanced options to help their projects stay organized. For example, let’s say a team of graduate students were working on a solar power project together. One board could be used for hypotheses and brainstorming, another for research and information, and another for experimental data. Each member can easily use Trello to report and organize the project as a whole, while still contributing as an individual. In addition, advanced options include APIs and browser extensions like Scrum, which records how much time a member spends on a card within a board. This extension is perfect for employer-employee situations.

In addition to individual authors, bloggers who write for multiple blogs can gain a lot by using Trello for organization, assignments and feedback. Much like the freelance team scenario mentioned above, whether you’re an individual blogger or on a team of bloggers, Trello is great for creating an editorial calendar. Boards can be created according to each blog, while cards can be used to organize future ideas, posts to be assigned, posts in progress and posts ready to be edited and posted. Or boards can be created for each individual blogger on the team, while the cards are labeled for each individual’s tasks. Whether you manage a team of bloggers, a bunch of blogs or both, Trello is especially great for those of us to whom organization does not come to so naturally.

Compared to Other Author-Related Apps

Typically speaking, when it comes to useful apps and tools, authors sort of get shafted. This is partially due to the fact that creative writing is something that is difficult to “aid” with computer software. After all, creative writing is something computers just can’t do. They don’t even replicate it well, if you consider all the crappy “spinning” software out there. There are some marginally useful editing apps and other small organization tools here and there to aid authors with their work, but few are as truly useful as Trello is with the process of writing.

Overall, Trello is a fantastic tool for even the most scattered — or organized — writer. Its uses are diverse enough that you’ll soon find yourself using Trello in the dentist’s office, your own place of work and at home.

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