Stephen King is on to something.
Sometimes just staring at the blank screen is daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Let your characters float around your head and talk to each other–and you–for a while. They’ll help you figure out what you’re going say before you sit to write. That’s the good part. The <em>best</em> part is that they won’t likely tell you everything and they’ll take you on a journey as you write.
This method works for me as a feature writer, too. I go and do my interviews. I take notes and pictures. Then I drive home to write. During the drive, I mull over what I’ve learned. What I saw, heard, smelled, tasted, felt. I go into my mental fitting room and try on different leads. Some don’t fit. Others do, but they look better on the hanger than they do in real life. So I ditch them.
Sometimes, before I even reach my computer, I end up with a terrific idea for a lead! And when inspiration doesn’t hit me while I’m on the road, at least I’ve eliminated various ideas that won’t work. I accept progress in whatever form it takes.
So, as I embark on my second novel, I’m letting my characters talk to me. They ping around my brain and when they hit the wall, they bounce off and another idea forms. Through this process, I’m getting to know them and they’re getting to know me.
So the scary part of writing will be in the plot, not staring at the screen.