A friend at breakfast quoted Elmore Leonard as saying "you should spend as much time with your characters as possible, and if you do, they will write the novel for you..." Good advice from a master. It's what I am doing with these two stories I am working on. Not only am I spending time with the characters, I am also spending time with the plot and the setting. There is no need to crank these babies out and I can just take it easy and be inspired. Then, when I am ready the story will flow like a wild rushing river.
The other thing that is on my mind is memories. I am one of those people that has a photographic memory. I can remember things all the way back to when I was five, and I am also one of those people that can look at pictures and not ask this question :"What was I wearing and what was I thinking when I was wearing it?"
I know what I was wearing, and I know why, and know that it was appropriate for the time and place. So how does this all tie into writing? Memories of my own life are what I use to make my characters more real and personal. In other words, they help me inject some of my own self into my characters which makes it easier to tell the story because it is a lot more personal.