About Us – Writer’s Blocks

Our story

Ashley Software was founded in 1994 to develop a software program that allows writers to rapidly capture and organize their story ideas. Since the beginning we’ve strived to be the kind of company that we would like to do business with.

We want to help our customers be successful with their writing projects. We believe that a company shouldn’t require that their customers provide a credit card number just to talk to someone on the phone about their problem. We didn’t start Ashley Software because we wanted to be in the software business. We started our company so we could share our simple tool with other writers. Over the last 25 years its clearly grown to much more than that but our main goal is the same.

The History of Writer’s Blocks

In the early 90’s I had an idea for a movie. Not knowing what I was doing, I floundered for a year, wrote hundreds of pages, but made little real progress. Although I’d read all the books, I struggled to outline my story and create the complex structure of a screenplay. Finally I took a class and joined a writing group. In the class I learned how to use index cards on a corkboard to capture and arrange my story ideas.

Because I wanted to bring my ‘story map’ with me to the writing group, I used Post-It notes in a notebook to outline my story. One night in the group I pulled out my notebook and most of my precisely arrange Post-It notes fluttered to the floor. There had to be a better way. On the long drive home I had an idea.

I got home about midnight and began writing a tiny software program. By 3am I had the beginnings of a program that simulated electronic index cards that automatically arranged and renumbered themselves. As I finished my first screenplay and began outlining my second script I added features to the program as necessary to make the program fit the way I think and write. Six months later, just before we broke for the Christmas holidays I gave the program to the writing group as a Christmas present.

When we returned from the holiday everyone raved about my program and said I should sell it in stores. I was not really interested in being in software business and didn’t know anything about it, but after a few weeks of nagging from the group I decided to make a few calls.

I called two stores that specialized in software and products for writers. They both said they would carry my program without even seeing it. I put my second script on hold but continued meeting with my writing group to get feedback from my ‘users’. I spent the next six months of weekends and evening polishing the program, manual, online help, packaging, and a hundred other details I didn’t know about. Oh and one more thing: I needed a name for the product. My family came up with the perfect name. Of course I hated it. Everyone else loved it.

We shipped Writer’s Blocks 1.0 in July 1994 and the rest as they say is history. I’ve written over 100,000 lines of code to create the five versions of Writer’s Blocks so I still consider myself a writer. But I never did finish my second script…someday…someday.

Tony Ashley