Let's talk about Kanban boards.7 min read
Remember when I said I wanted to start doing weekly updates again? And that I’m no longer giving estimates for when story updates would happen?
Well, guess what won out!
Hey, sorry I’m late. I underestimated the pull of both IRL finals and Minecraft. Whoops.
I did look into Kanban boards to show my writing process. I have one in my disc-bound story notes notebook, but it’s also a good visual way to show how far along the general writing pipeline I am. The problem is, I was looking more for a pretty visual, and most things designed and advertised as “Kanban Boards” are for actually responsible people who need to use the tool but online. So I’m going to need to finagle something else to accomplish what I’m going for. Probably something like a mind-map shortcode or a table or something. I’ll figure it out.
Wait, hold up. What exactly is a Kanban Board?
I’m glad you asked. It’s basically a to-do list for people who like sticky notes too much. Or people who need tasks broken down to their smallest components.
Basically, you have columns/rows set up to show the stages of completing X task. As different portions of X task are completed, they move along the line of columns/rows until X task is completed. For me, this is scenes of a chapter moving along from prewriting to final upload.
I’ll recreate what I currently have in my notebook to help explain:
Myrna and Bernard discuss their parents
Sybil watches Jack w/the List
|Rough Draft 1: Fountain Pen|
|Rough Draft 2: Pencil|
Bernard receives a letter
|Rough Draft 3: Typewriter|
|Rough Draft 4: Neo|
|Edit Pass 1: Print Out|
|Edit Pass 2: TTS|
“14.X” here meaning “Chapter 14, Scene X.” Each one is a sticky note in my notebook. As of now, I still need to do a Fountain Pen pass of Scene C, I just finished that for Scene B, and Scene A is waiting up in the Typewriter stage. (I’ll explain the stages below.)
Now, I know this looks very technical and complicated, and it probably is. I will point out that this works more like a guide. I find it helpful to have the underlying foundation of something like this, but feel no compunction to follow it to the letter. Some scenes skip steps, some move back for some reworking, and some hop around all over the place before I feel they’re ready to publish. And most of these steps were added so I have an excuse to play with the tool listed (*cough, cough* typewriter and neo *cough, cough*).
So what do all these colors mean?
This stage of the writing is the outlining, finding the right head-space, “so what exactly am I going to be doing?” stage of writing. A lot of me writing down questions and suggestions to myself in my journal as I figure out at a minimum:
1. What scenes will be in this chapter?
2. Where do those scenes start and end?
3. What important big plot things happen in these scenes?
All of this is mostly to help me have a roadmap. None of this is set in stone and is routinely changed and tweaked as I continue into the actual writing.
Rough Draft 1: Fountain Pen
This is the word vomit stage. Just put something down in the general shape of the plan/end scene. The least amount of fucks are given regarding overused cliches, misspellings, or weird pacing. The goal is to get words on the page because words on the page can be edited. I use a fountain pen because they write the smoothest and don’t draw a lot of sensory attention to the act of writing so I can get stuck in a daydream and write down utter garbage. This is the stage I’m most likely to have YouTube on in the background to drown out the inner editor. (Doesn’t always work.)
Rough Draft 2: Pencil
So, part of what balloons my writing schedule is that my preferred editing style is copying the writing over and over again, cutting what I have no patience to write again as I go. This is the first stage of that. I re-write my fountain-pen ramblings, now paying a bit more attention to how I’m telling the story. I use a pencil because erasers are super helpful once I start caring about technique and spelling mistakes.
Rough Draft 3: Typewriter
I copy the pencil draft using my typewriter. That’s it. The Rough Draft stages from here on out are just reiterations of that. Honestly, just the act of copying the scenes out so often is really good at making you consider if specific parts are important enough to bother with over and over again.
And this gives me a great excuse to play with my typewriter. No more reason needed than that.
Rough Draft 4: Neo/Word Processor
Way back in middle school, just when I had been diagnosed with ADHD and we were still figuring out which accommodations helped me, I got an Alphasmart Neo 2. It’s basically an electronic typewriter, and the intent was to let me have a distraction-free, but typing based, way to take notes and write papers for class. In the end, I mostly used it to write stories. Still do today. It’s a good way to have an electronic version I can use on the go, but using the device itself is not vital to my writing process. Typing it into Google docs on my phone works just as well. Depends on what I have on hand.
In terms of my writing process, this is the last example of editing by copying over. All editing from this point on (in theory) is detail oriented and looks more like what people tend to think of as “editing.”
Edit Pass 1: Print Out
I don’t know what it is about screens and line-by-line editing specifically, but it’s usually really difficult for me to do. Some days my head is just in the right space to do that, but banking on hyperfocus, whim, “feeling like it,” or what have you in order to do any part of the writing process is not generally a productive idea. And it can lead to stories dying off if I don’t have something to keep it in the back of my mind. So I just print out the scene and edit on paper. Or sometimes I wait until all the scenes in the chapter are in the same section. It depends. We’re approaching the rarely-used-as-intended part of this board, as when I get to this part, I’m generally immersed enough in both writing and the chapter in question that I don’t really need the structure to help keep me going.
But yeah, this is just the good, old-fashioned red marks on the paper part of writing/editing.
Edit Pass 2: Text-to-Speech
The maxim that you should hear your writing spoken at least once is so true. I recommend it if you can manage it. I use text-to-speech because I’m lazy, but this also works whether you’re reading it out loud yourself or having a friend read it out to you. Things that look fine written out but don’t really work when another human reads them (especially if you’ve seen it several times at this point) are really highlighted at this point. This also makes it good for detail edits I tend to be doing at this stage.
This is mostly just a waiting room for scenes that have reached a finished state so that the rest of the chapter can catch up. If I published scenes individually, I wouldn’t need this.
So yeah. That’s the structure of my writing process. Still more complicated than it probably needed to be, but sticky notes are fun, and there is something nice about pulling out the board when I’ve had to focus on school and being able to see at a glance where I last left things off.
Just a quick note about next week’s upload: it’s going to be late as I’m heading out with my dad to an SCA event up in Witchita Falls, so I’ll literally be on the road during my planned upload time. I’ll get one out, but it’ll be like this one (i.e., late).
Thank you all so much for reading, and I’ll see you all next week! Bye!