I've been a terrible slacker for most of this month, in terms of actually getting any writing done. There's been a lot of time spent on publishing the books, whether finishing up the covers and maps, formatting the interiors, uploading all of it, or making the decisions on pricing and promoting. And there's been a lot of scurrying around frantically trying to figure out how to promote the books. And of course there's been Christmas stuff.
But ultimately, none of these things would have prevented me from a productive December of writing on my current book, if I weren't in a bit of a morass with it.
Fortunately, while in the midst of the scurrying, I've also been reading books and blogs by other authors, and some of the vivid personalities I've encountered made me realize the key missing element from my central protagonist in the new book. I've had development arcs in mind for three of four main viewpoint characters in the book, but one, the most important one, was missing. For the female lead, I hadn't asked myself the crucial questions of, "Just where is this person in her life?" and, "How did she get into this emotional state?" and, most importantly, "Where is this going to take her?"
The answers to those questions more or less jumped out at me once I started asking them. They were really pretty obvious, especially given her circumstances relative to the other two protagonists*. So now I have not only a direction in mind for her, but a number of ideas on how that direction must inform her relationships with the other characters.
If I'd been pushing, this whole time, I'd be a scene or two further along in the writing, maybe even a couple of chapters. But they would have felt a bit aimless to me, and probably to the reader as well. Now I'm more confident about how those scenes and chapters will turn out, because they'll be pulling me, instead of me pushing them.
There's a certain danger in attributing success to procrastination, but in this case I'm strongly tempted to do so.
(*The fourth viewpoint character is the antagonist, a quite loathsome fellow whom I almost wonder if I've made too repulsive.)