Secrets time. I write screenplays and not novels. As I am a visual person not a words person. I think you are the first person I’ve heard mention using an Excel spreadsheet as part of your novel organising process. I routinely use Excel – it allows one to put down random ideas and then sort them in different ways. But you are right, It’s what works for YOU.
Screenwriters use those little coloured index cards. They are great as you can carry them anywhere and mix up the order. Use different colours for scenes, character biogs and plot lines. And add icons and dooodles. Then play out the scene in your head – even in midst of day job ‘board/bored’ meetings.
Then I ‘go for it’. Only refer back to them when stuck/done (rarely, if at all). Even I don’t know where the ‘final version’ comes from. One gets to know the characters, and when you know them, you know how they will react to the situation YOU the writer puts them in.
This is a response to CC Lester’s blog post about how s/he manages to finish (not just write) a novel.