Finally! I've started to write again. What a relief.
I'm getting a bit worried that I have too much story for the novel I'm working on (a constant problem for me) but at least I'm working on it! I can scale back later. Right now, the only thing that matters is getting it down.
I knew I'd get back to writing. I've been through enough of these down cycles that I don't get too worried about them anymore, but they are frustrating. It's not that I completely stop working on writing, it's just that I stop putting down words. During these breaks, I think a lot about the characters.
People talk about character driven fiction, and I believe in it, but not the way most people think about it. Yes, everything a character does has to seem natural and right for that character. Most events in the story have to be a result of their actions or their reactions to other characters. But, back up a bit. If the writer wants certain things to happen in the story, the writer first has to create a character who would believably be in that situation and act in such a way as to naturally bring about the events the writer desires. So even though I start of with characters in mind and start writing about them, I need the time when I'm not putting words down to step back and figure out if I have the right characters. If not, they have to change. So yes, I write character driven plots, but I definitely tinker with the make-up of the people doing the driving to make sure they're headed where I want them to go. Forcing characters to follow a plot that doesn't suit them is just bad writing.
The great thing about time away from putting down words is that I can get comfortable with the idea that these are the right characters. Once they're ready to go, so am I. I don't think I could get back to writing without going through that, but it sure is nice to have it flow so easily now that I am putting words down again.