But the thing is ... I tried to write this last chapter. I gave myself a nice pause and a couple of thinky days before tackling it, plotting how I was going to help the characters out of the dangerous place where they were trapped, and then later how I was going to get them to go back there on purpose. When I thought I had it all figured out I tried to write it.
And failed. I wrote an entirely wrong-footed chapter, mechanical and choppy and confusing. But I pushed it (after all, I'd already given myself the pause) and got the characters to the end of the chapter, and the edge of escape. And as they came to the edge, I thought, "wait, this is IT, this is where it happens, right here, right now." And I thought: "this is why I couldn't write this: I was trying to avoid this moment."
Of course that wasn't what I had thoughtfully planned, so I ignored the hunch and wrote past the moment, completing the escape. Then I froze up.
It took me a few days to decide to throw out my plans (not to mention most of a chapter) and trust my gut. Of course NOW it seems obvious -- why would they want to escape then come back? -- but I fought and fought and whined and stomped my feet. But today, finally, I scrapped the problem chapter, stripping it back and putting it back together with its new not-escape ending in mind. I'm ready, tomorrow, to bring my characters to the their worst moment, the all-is-lost point. GULP.
But when, oh when, am I going to figure out that my thinky-writer self doesn't know what it's doing? When am I going to stop pushing through before I'm ready? When am I going to quit fighting those deep flashes of insight? Listen to your self, Erin: "This is where it happens. Right here. Right now."