I'm a naturally curious person. New book at the bookstore? I have to check it out. New show on TV? I"ll usually check it out. New designer who promises jeans will instantly slim you? You can bet I'll try a pair on. Curious. I have a need to know.
This feeds nicely into my writing. A song or a snippet of conversation or a phrase in the newspaper will spark my imagination and I'll be off and running. I may not know the how or why of that song or conversation, but I'll figure out the how and why of my characters in a book. I'll fumble it a little and revise and edit and my characters will - at some point - hate me. But in the end we'll find our happily-ever-after.
There are times, though, when I'm completely blocked. When I have an idea or when I'm half-way through a book and I have no idea where to turn. I'm lost. Those are scary moments, but I've learned that when I have those lost-and-freaked moments I shouldn't push through. Warning: This is true for me, it may not be for you.
When I come to those moments, I need a break. I'll take a walk around the neighborhood and when I get home, I'll keep that file closed. I'll read a book. Watch a favorite television show. Play with bebe. Do something out of my chair and away from my computer. It helps my mind rest and allows my subconscious time to work on the problem. Many times I'll pull out my sewing machine to work on a crafty project - a new sundress for bebe or the block of a quilt. These non-writing but creative tasks give my brain a rest - time to not actively think about the characters or the plot or chapter and instead to focus in a different way.
That focus invariably leads to a solution for the manuscript. Do you step away from the computer when you're stuck? Or do you push through?