We’ve all been there. You kinda, sorta have an idea, but you’re not quite sure…maybe you have the faint hint of a story but you haven’t flushed out the details…and then you guess it’s not happening so you binge watch The Great British Bake-Off.

Now, there’s nothing wrong at all with binge watching GBBO, but there also shouldn’t be such a frequent obstacle to you being able to write something, especially if you have a starting point. And that “starting point” is actually that little nugget of an idea in your head. It’s not the first chapter, it’s not even the protagonist’s name. It’s that little nugget of an idea.

The cliché, however, is “just start writing”, or “you can’t edit a blank page”. Which is all well and good, but writing onto a page is hard. You still have to formulate something. You have to write a coherent set of words that form a sentence. And that’s hard.

A happy accident

When we set out to make the new plot feature, we were focused on the best user experience for plotting, bringing in the common things that the other platforms have while filling in the gaps. But interestingly, when we were testing it out, we saw that it was helping some writers break writer’s block.

It turns out that if you’re the kind of writer that likes word clouds, or auto-suggest features, breaking out of writer’s block sometimes requires two key (but basic) things:

  1. Inspiration (a new idea or development that takes the story somewhere organically)
  2. Zero commitment to the new idea

Sometimes writers just don’t want to bother writing the new thing because they don’t know what it is, and spinning up a new Word document, or starting a new page, or even jotting down the idea in a notebook becomes too much of a commitment because now you’ve got this thing that you need to organize and you don’t know where it belongs.

It turns out, an empty Seequill plot grid might be exactly what you need.

Let’s build a story together

Sometimes writer’s block is while you’re in the middle of a story, but we’re going to start from absolute zero.

Oh look, it’s that nothing again. But let’s go through this together, and all be an author building out a story. Let’s say the idea that we have is a space drama (absolute zero indeed!). Maybe a space station orbiting Jupiter is off course and is going to be swallowed up by the gas giant.

We have our nugget of an idea!

“Wait, we can’t go there yet, that’s so unrelated from where we are. Right?”
Wrong. Go there. Your brain went there, so go there.

When you start from the plot grid, you don’t need any more than that nugget of an idea. Plug it in as a new scene.

Now, great news! You don’t have to actually write anything! If you want to, sure get going, but maybe you’re not ready. However, maybe just seeing this scene will spark questions. For example, who’s on the space station? How did they get there?

“Wait, we can’t go there yet, that’s so unrelated from where we are. Right?”

Wrong. Go there. Your brain went there, so go there. And in the plot grid, it’s as easy as creating a new scene.

Now we have two scenes:

  1. Carol arrives at the station
  2. The station starts descending

Clearly, stuff has to happen in between. But I don’t know if you’ve realized it yet, but you’ve already broken out of the first obstacle of writer’s block. You’re building a story right before your eyes, and you haven’t had to write a single word yet.

Follow your weird and wonderful brain

You’re essentially playing word association at a slightly higher level, with zero commitment to any of those ideas. Create the scene, and if you don’t need it later, throw it away.

Maybe Carol arriving at the station sparks an idea about what happened immediately after. Maybe, you’re in the mood to introduce some drama, and you want Carol to get into a fight with another cosmonaut. Why? Who knows. We don’t have to answer that right now.

Well look at that. We now have a character called Kenneth. And by now hopefully your wheels are spinning. Who is Kenneth? What’s his personality like? Why would they fight? Create these scenes as your brain wanders.

Make connections

You still haven’t written a single line of text for your story, but you might already have an idea how scenes are related. If you do, start connecting them, and you might get a stronger understanding of how your story can play out.

Write when ready

Now that you have these scenes, if you feel it, you can start filling them with some actual story text. Maybe you’re just in the mood to write the fight with Kenneth, so in the plot grid, click on your scene tile, and start writing.

You never even have to leave the plot grid.

Start a new plot without ditching the ideas

If you feel the plot get cluttered, there’s no problem at all. Start a brand new one, and drag in the scenes that you want to keep working on. Remember, the beautiful thing about Seequill’s plot grid is you’re dragging and connecting the actual scenes that you use to build your story, text and all. There’s no need to create any new objects and correlate them to these plot tiles. The plot tiles are your scenes. Seequill makes it easy.

There’s no need to fear your ideas

Hopefully you can see how Seequill’s plot grid can help you to build stories without the stress of even having to write out a single sentence until you’re ready. Breaking writer’s block doesn’t need a sledgehammer. It just needs a spark.