I think about my characters always. In the shower, in the car, at work (sorry, Terry), and even when I'm playing games with the kiddo. I can't not think about them. This mental work tires me, and yet, I can't have it any other way. If I back off to "get a break" it's as though a jar of marbles just smashed on the floor and I spend the next "writing day" trying to find all the loose pieces to recover ground.
I can't say I have a writing process as much as a writing lifestyle. Finding the magic, losing the magic, refinding the magic. It happens in cycles, but they are familiar cycles. (There is no angelic muse on my shoulder, mind you. Just me.)
And then there are times when I get discouraged.
Times when confidence flutters in the breeze because it's not anchored to anything. Times when I don't feel appreciated, or times when I do but I don't believe what people are telling me. And there are times when, for no good reason, I just don't know that anyone cares about my work--the hours spent writing that they don't see. (That is the biggest issue with the writing profession, I believe.) And times when depression creeps in and all my characters whom I spend every day with go silent.
" . . . "
In those days/weeks, there's this other thing I try to remember. My [good] warlocks' motto is, "We press on." I think that's key in anything you do whether it's writing, art, relationships, horrible-awful-no-good days, parenting, having a career, anything. We must press on. Always. Push yourself to be better than you are today in whatever measure of progress you need. The world will wait for you simply because that's what it was made for--you. Then you go and make it what you need it to be. Press on.