It’s frustrating and discouraging when writing grinds to a halt. Figuring out why can be the first step to restarting the engine.
The internal critic, the anti-muse, the self-doubt is too loud. Stories that exist only in the writer’s imagination cannot be fixed. If I write it, I can improve it later.
Life is happening. Sometimes every ounce of a writer’s creative energy is required to cope with his or her own life so that nothing is left for characters’ lives. I try to calm down, take notes if I can, and remember that life experiences make me a better writer.
Nothing is happening in the story. Not every novel is an action-packed thriller, but writing often stalls when the characters aren’t doing anything. I let them misbehave to jumpstart the story.
The writer can’t figure out how to solve a problem. If I’ve painted myself into a corner, I go back to the last opportunity for escape and rewrite.
The writer’s subconscious is aware of a problem that the writer’s conscious mind has yet to recognize. I bring the last semi-working chapter to critique group, and their feedback brings the problem to light.