Every Sunday, I get up about the same time, i.e. six or so and after letting the dog out, sit down and write my weekly blog. During the week, at random moments, I come up with an idea, or a theme and it gestates in the back of my mind for a few days. Then, on Sunday morning, it takes about thirty or forty minutes to write the 500 words or so, polish and publish.

But not this week! Nothing came and in fact, I didn’t have a clue what is as going to write until I sat down at the key board and my brain said, write about drawing a blank!

Looking back, the reason became clear. I’m about two thirds the way through – at least I think I am – the first draft of a manuscript called The Assassin. For the first seventy thousand or so words, everything was flowing smoothly. The plot threads were coming together, the timeline was working and the characters were driving what was appearing on the screen.

It was like I was driving in the mud, slowing down, the wheels spinning, the car slewing and now I’m stuck and can’t figure out what to write. It wasn’t a mental block because my mind raced with possibilities, but none, when applied would work.

Where does one go in the writer’s bag of tricks to come up with an answer? There’s no store you can go to that has an aisle with plot or character ideas. Googling, if that is a word, “help me with my plot” gets you all sorts of generic guides that tell you same all tried and true things like, “How to Plot a Novel, 7 Tips for Success.” I read all seven that were a compilation of what makes for a great novel. O.K., most if not all were in the book already or at least planned.

Clicking further, at the end of the day, all these sites want to sell you something, a course, help with editing, even ghost writing your novel. None of the above were applicable. So what does one do?

Write now – yes I used the word intentionally instead of ‘right now,” I’m stuck and am taking a few days off to let some ideas gestate. Looking back through the un-edited manuscript, two items leapt off the screen. One, the main antagonist’s character wasn’t developed properly. Another was I needed to keep bringing the plot, the historical context that surrounds it.

Meanwhile, in the back of my brain, the characters will do what they do and I’ll resume in a day or so. Today’s job is to get the blog published so I can go back to writing a book and not a blog.

Marc Liebman

January 2018