I used the video clip as my opener here because even though Coyne is talking primarily about fiction everything he talks about in his book, website, and podcast on The Story Grid applies to academic writing. Take, for instance, this exchange about the allure of flailing from Episode 4: "What about Deliverance, right?"
Tim: I’m not thinking of it [the story grid] as less creative as much as I guess I worry trying to find shortcuts like this, because that’s how I see it. That’s probably a crass way of saying it, but my goal is I don’t want to spend the next ten years flailing until I figure this out; I want to start ahead. But I worry sometimes, am I losing something by not flailing for ten years? [emphasis mine].
Shawn: See, I would make the argument that you have reached a point in your life where you have flailed enough.
Tim: Everybody would assume that.
Shawn: I don’t think so. You would be surprised, Tim. A lot of people, when I start to describe “The Story Grid” and what I’m talking about, their eyes will roll and they’ll say, “You can’t create anything creative that way. That’s ridiculous.” Those are people who haven’t flailed enough because they’re assuming that there’s some magical moment where the heavens part and the angels descend and give you a story, and that’s not the way it works at all. [emphasis mine] Stephen King would be the first one to tell you that.
This exchange struck me as exactly the struggle and confusion I see with students. If you're a student in my class, you'll know that I give you a lot of templates. We play mad-libs with thesis templates. I encourage you to post-draft outline your papers and to identify keywords in topic sentences. I model things for you and provide you with rubrics (which are, themselves, a type of grid) that lay out what your papers have to have in them.
Stop flailing. There is no trick here--a paper grid is not some sort of Hunger Games style booby trap meant to keep you from getting to the capital. Instead, they are literally the structures that will allow you to reach your goals.