I don't like the term writer's block. It's not just that it sounds like a nasty thing for us writers, which it is. Mostly it's frustrating because I feel like writer's block is my fault. Am I too uncreative, too moody, too caught up in "the muse" that I can't write whenever I want to? Not usually. Occasionally, however, I simply get stuck because of story reasons.
One thing that can really drag a novel down -- or help it fly -- is the pacing. This causes that, a plot point moves us forward, there's some reaction after this scene to absorb previous action, ebb and flow, purposeful movement. Some writers are masters at this, whether by instinct or training. I like to think it's something I'm tuned to -- I love to pay attention to pacing in novels -- but I definitely don't have the mastery I need to execute it properly.
Is the voice in my head that's telling me there's something wrong with this chapter responding to my sense for pacing? Or is it some other problem with the story entirely? Is it just the voice of self-consciousness and self-criticism that opposes anyone who takes on a creative project? Or am I not being dedicated enough?
Right now, I'm looking at some of the bigger, structural elements of the story. I'm finding that the minor characters I put in have to be there, but need to serve a greater purpose by the end. I have a plot point with tension that needs to emerge in a less contrived way. I need to make the causes leading up to it make better sense, and I have to make an escape seem surprising, yet inevitable.
Oh, chapter five, you needy document.
And chapter five comes pretty early. It's like a foundation for the story -- if I screw up the early parts, the later parts aren't going to have anything sound to stand on.
So I take a break to complain, define my problems for the Internet to see, and move on. What am I doing here? I've got revising to do.