My character had been wrapped up in her new relationship, so wrapped up that she completely forgot about her main goal in life, the very essence of what she needs to accomplish in this story. And so had I.
When I realized just how close I'd coming to losing the thread of my story, I almost panicked. But then I thanked the Lord for showing me what I'd almost missed. Sheesh!
This only proves how intimate we can become with our story and our characters. Suddenly, we're not the all-knowing writer who can deftly move our characters around like pieces on a chessboard; we're actually in the story. We're feeling our characters' emotions. We're experiencing their lives. We're not in charge.
This can be a good thing and a bad thing.
1) Good because if we're that deeply involved in our story, our reader should be that involved, too (we hope). Good because we're pouring our heart and soul into the story. We're feeling it. And the reader will, too (we hope!).
2) Bad because it's very easy to let our characters off the hook instead of putting them through the ringer. Bad because without conflict and tension, the story is boring.
Solution: take yourself out of the story every once in awhile and look at it with an unbiased eye.
You can do this when you're writing the first draft if you're like me and want to get the story pretty fleshed out (i.e. all the plot points make sense, character GMC's, etc.) before the editing process, OR, you can do this in your editing stage.
Either way, it's essential.