Getting organised: Trello

Yesterday I realised I’d not done any writing in almost two weeks – not ANY writing at all …

… well, I lied. I *did* actually write the structure for a book proposal on 29 June, complete with outline ideas for a further 14 potential non-fiction books.

Obviously, I’m not going to be able to write 15 new non-fiction books any time soon. And many of the ideas may be rejected anyway. But I can do the book proposal for book one and include two books on the same broad topic as the three-book-option.  If the publisher likes all three, then he’ll give me the go ahead. If he only likes one or two, he’ll come up with suggestions for book(s) two and three himself.

And, of course, he could just hate the first proposal and it’ll be back to the drawing board. It’s good to know, though, that there are already 12 more waiting in the sidelines.

But it’s a start, and that’s the main thing.

Getting organised
After tidying up my diary and sorting out my workload yesterday, I did two more things:

  1. I updated my online T-card system
  2. I started a new think/query/write/submit

Because I’m very behind on the think/query/write/submit system, I’m coming up with ideas for all four: Feb 18/Jan 18/Dec 17/Nov 17.

Fave short story market is already looking for stories for October and November. I have one November short story that’s already doing the rounds. But if I can come up with new short stories very quickly that would be suitable for November publication, or if I can slant one I’m already working on to October or November (or December), then I’m halfway there.

For everything else, I have to start again from scratch.

Trello
And that brings me on to my online T-card system.

Because I *do* juggle so many different ideas and projects at a time (I get bored and need the variety), I tasked the poet with finding me some kind of online project management system.

The first one he came up with was a Gantt-type chart. I tried it, but it was too big and complicated for what I needed. Then I asked him to find some kind of T-card system instead. And he found Trello.

Does anyone remember using T-cards? I’ve used them in loads of jobs and find them very useful.

I use the free version, but there is a premium version too. This is what my main Trello board looks like:

The picture’s a bit small, but you might be able to see that I can “star” or “favourite” however many boards I want to. And I can share the boards with other people, or they can share their boards with me. Then I can copy T-cards from one board to another.

I’d like to be able to update just one card and it automatically update all other copies elsewhere. I don’t know yet if Trello does that or if it’s in the premium version. But if it does, then that would also be very useful for me.

I have a board for each of my editing and proofreading clients, I have a board for my own books, I have a board for my short material, and I have a master board for all the books I’m working on. This master board used to include short material too, but it just went on and on and on for ever…

Here is my own book board:

As you can see, there are a few books on there. The cut-off column to the right is books still in planning stages.

I choose to change the background colour of each of my boards. I can also colour-code the labels and I have a key to remind me. These coloured labels show me at a glance how far I’ve progressed for each project.

I’d like to be able to move short card-sections to beneath existing columns. At the moment each new list starts a new column so there’s wasted space beneath shorter sections. Again, that may be possible, but I haven’t found it yet.

Here is my short material board:

This has ALL of my short material on – short stories, articles, RTEs (reader’s true experience), fillers, reader’s letters, etc. At every stage of production. The “in progress” section goes below the screen area, but you can scroll down to view them all.

Again, the labels are colour coded.

Even the cards themselves can be edited to suit. You can add pictures, comments, details such as targeted word-count, target market, target fee, actual fee, and a to-do list, which I really, really like. You can also attach files…

Here is a close-up of a T-card for a short story that’s currently with a market:

(They’ve asked for a slight re-write, so I need to crack on with that this week.)

I’m not using it to its full capability, but this is enough for me. I can tell at a glance how far along in the production process it is.

The beauty of Trello, for me, is that I can access it and update it from anywhere online, even via the mobile phone. So as I’m in the habit of packing a notepad and pen and writing something wherever I end up, I can easily update how far along I am. I can see which of my short pieces is next on the to-do list (and I’ve probably taken a previous draft or any notes with me), and I can mark off whichever task or chore I’ve done.

If you fancy giving Trello a go, it’s free and you can do so by following this link. Let me know if you do and how you get along with it.

Do you have any online organisation tools you like to use?

Diary of a freelance writer: 5 October 2016

So this week, there were TWO disturbances. The first one on Thursday, when the internet fell over. The second was on Tuesday, when my new mobile phone arrived and I just *had* to set that up exactly how I like it. It has to be said that “not much work” was done during those 2 periods. However …

Wednesday 28 September 2016
On Wednesday, I wrote 1,012 words for a blog post. I completed the revision of the BCJ course, Tutorials 9 and 10, and I wrote a massive 23 words in that process.

In the afternoon I spent a second writing slot this week gazing at a blank page for a short story. The outline page was done in one notebook, and I’d really broke the back with the writing part in another notebook by writing the date and the title with “#1” at the start meaning “draft 1”. I managed 31 words in all before giving up and moving on to Catch the Rainbow, for which I wrote 444 words … before getting totally distracted.

When I’m writing this book if I hit a brick wall, research-wise, I *do* quickly Google the fact before moving swiftly on … however, on Wednesday I got carried away when I found some old photographs of Birmingham on the internet that I might be on or even some of my friends. I know we were there. I was supposed to be checking what 2 pubs looked like in 1974 and ended up in 1983. I gave myself a good kick up the bum and tore myself away from the internet again …

… only to nip back on to see if Birmingham City FC were playing on a specific day. Not only did they play, but they also won 3 – 1, against Liverpool FC. And they were, at that time, in the top division of English football. (I’m a BCFC fan.) So that added some authenticity before I wrapped up for the day.

Time was also spent looking at my Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham & Suburbs, 1973-4 CD as I had my main character shopping in some specific shops … that turned out not to be where I thought they were in 1974. So I moved the locations and shops in the story to suit the directory. I hope it was up to date, because someone somewhere will know if I’ve made a mistake as it’s still very much within living memory.

Thursday 29 September 2016
Thursday was the first of my “down” periods. I’d noticed the phone landline wasn’t working properly and started off by trying to fix that. I couldn’t get any cables to work, though, and we decided it might be a faulty phone, despite it being brand new.

Then the internet fell over. We noticed that not while I was supposed to be working, but while we were trying to watch television on Sky catch-up the previous evening. We reported a possible fault at around 9:30pm the previous day, and Sky confirmed that yes, there was in fact an external fault.

I don’t know about you, but if I know my internet isn’t working, I’m blummin’ rubbish at work stuff. This is a discipline I need to work on.

Friday 23 September 2016
On Friday the phone and the internet came back on at around 1pm. I knew this because the telephone engineer called the landline to tell me and it worked. Apparently a tree had grown close enough to the overhead cables to damage the line that our number was on. Luckily, there was a spare line, and the engineer moved us to that one. But he needed to report the tree as they’d have to locate the owner before they could arrange to cut it back and replace the line. The line that we’re now on has meant a much more stable internet, but the phone line at our end at least is very crackly. People at the other end, however, have assured met hey can hear me loud and clear!

I was much better today, and I did manage to write 1,511 words for Catch the Rainbow before an early finish and a trip to Doncaster with the poet and his mom. When we got home, we closed the gate and didn’t open it again until Monday morning.

Weekend
On Saturday, we enjoyed a glorious lie-in. When we finally emerged, at gone noon, the poet baked 2 loaves of bread and he made fishcakes for tea.

On Sunday, we were up earlier. We put the garden to bed for the winter, bringing in the cacti and putting the parasol, rotary washing line and portable barbecue in the shed. The poet made a much-needed shoe-rack with offcuts of wood and he cut the grass, hopefully for the last time this year. I baked a cake and we slow-cooked a lamb-shank. Then while I read a book (Robert Goddard, Beyond Recall, I LOVE Robert Goddard and wish I could write like he does), the poet went off to chuck fluff at the river for an hour (aka fly-fishing – he caught one).

This was our last weekend off for 4 weeks, which is why we wanted to make the most of it.

Monday 3 October 2016
On Monday I was able to do some of the things I couldn’t do on Thursday and Friday, such as gig list admin, chase an invoice and raise a new invoice and send it.

I wrote 1,060 words for Catch the Rainbow, I created a new tracking spreadsheet for the new month, I did some tidying up on Trello (online T-cards), and I ordered a new catflap and a new pane of toughened double-glazed glass to put it in. For this I contacted one of my old favourite and very reliable sub-contractors in my building maintenance days at Birmingham City Council, Shard End Glass. (I’m going back 30 years.)

Tuesday 4 October 2016
Yesterday was new phone day. So beyond a bit of admin in the morning before it arrived, much of the rest of the day was spent faffing with said new phone. I also ordered a new case for it.

I was delighted when both invoices chased or raised on Monday were paid today, one of them 6 days early!

Yesterday evening we did our weekly shopping.

Homework w/c 5 October 2016
My homework for the coming week will still be daily writing towards Catch the Rainbow. I also have 2 books I want to crack on with editing for 2 different clients. With the new phone, I can now continue with mapping dog walks (MapMyWalk doesn’t work on the Windows phone I was using until my new phone arrived). That means the fitness regime will start again – today. Next week I also want to get on with the study work again. All of these things have been neglected these past few days.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 17 August 2016

Well! There’s nothing like a holiday to make you come back to work refreshed and raring to go. It’s been a very busy week since my last diary post, and there have even been extra blog posts. I also crashed through the 20,000-word mark for CATCH THE RAINBOW (did you see the word meter in the side bar?)

Wednesday 10 August 2016
My day is now very clearly split between “my time” and “retainer time”, and during my time I created my new monthly tracker spreadsheet (it was a week late) and I wrote 1,166 words for a blog post.

In the afternoon I finished the editing work I’d started before we went on holiday.

Thursday 11 August 2016
On Thursday, in the morning I downloaded and applied a Scrivener update, I did some gig list admin, and I wrote 642 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW.

In the afternoon, I created a book schedule for lovely-retainer-boss, so we both know we both know what books I have, and I started to play with a sort-of online T-card system the poet had found for me, Trello.

Friday 12 August 2016
On Friday I wrote 2 blog posts, one of 594 words and the other of 296 words. I raised some invoices. (Hurrah!) And then I wrote 673 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW.

Weekend
Apart from a quick visit to see one lot of parents on Saturday, the weekend was spent chilling, dossing, gardening, baking, and basically doing diddley squat. We don’t often get a weekend off, and when we do, we’re still mega-busy.

Monday 15 August 2016
The new week dawned with another 2 blog posts, one of 433 words and the other of 368 words. I raised another invoice. (Hurrah!) And I wrote a massive 1,369 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW cold, i.e. without even an outline.

In the afternoon I tried to edit a book, but it had somehow become corrupted. We’re trying to sort this out as best as we can between us.

Tuesday 16 August 2016
On Tuesday, yesterday, I wrote 453 words for the blog and 323 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW – these words, despite having notes and an outline, didn’t come as easily as the 1,369 of the previous day … food for thought.

In the afternoon I started a work-around on the corrupted edit.

Homework w/c 17 August 2016
This coming week I want to crack on a lot more with CATCH THE RAINBOW. I also want to carry on with the corrupted edit as there are 4 more books to do after that one.

Beyond that, it’s more of the same really.

What are you up to this week?