If you find yourself frequently hitting walls as you draft, learn from my mistake and ask a few trusted readers to take a look at your opening chapters sooner rather than later. Sometimes a decision that seemed logical to you won't to another reader. Pinpointing those issues early on will save you a lot of grief.
When you drive without GPS and take a wrong turn somewhere, plowing ahead will only get you more lost. That's when you need to stop and retrace your steps back to the place where you did have a sense of direction. (Or stop and ask for directions.)
In the case of a story, that means rewind. Go back to the last place where the story was working at its full potential, then slowly read on in search of the wrong turn.
Here are some common culprits:
~Protagonist loses sight of his/her objective
~Protagonist's desire or motivation shifts unexpectedly
~A character does something with no logical motivation
~A character doesn't do something s/he'd logically be motivated to do
~A character overreacts and conflict escalates or resolution happens too soon
~A character underreacts and forward motion doesn't happen
~A secondary character or subplot suddenly steals center stage
~A plot complication is too low-stakes
~Early information dump leaves too little surprise to be revealed later
~You've withheld information that would enable forward movement
~You've introduced too many complications or obstacles too soon
~You've introduced too many characters--some aren't important or interesting
~You need to introduce secondary characters sooner and make them pull their weight
~You have no subplots, or you've failed to keep moving a subplot forward
Whether your story is plot-driven or character-driven, emotions are the real energy behind it all, so developing characters' emotions well and "on pitch" is the core challenge. Thus, it's very often characterization issues that get us off course most frequently.
Every time I've made a wrong turn with plot, there were seeds of off-pitch emotions behind it. Those off-pitch moments can start very, very subtly--a yelp when a gasp would do, an analytic thought in a moment of panic. Or perhaps the plot complication I introduced is not high stakes enough to trigger the big emotions I need to move the story forward. Balancing plot with characterization is a tricky dance.
Don't be surprised when you rewind to discover a seemingly nothing moment that inadvertently set the wrong tone, which then snowballed all other emotions in the wrong direction. Tweak that moment, and you'd be surprised how quickly you're back on course again.
How might the rewind concept help you?