I have hero envy, which isn't so bad as a writer. I can live vicariously through my characters without actually running into a burning building or hunting down bad guys. My next book captures my envy through my hero, a FBI Special Agent, and my heroine, possibly another FBI agent.
I've done about a months worth of research already into the FBI. Seriously, it's becoming a bit obsessive, but I've learned a lot about what goes into the training, career and mind set of an agent.
I still don't have a story. I have three characters, their names, what they look like, and the rest is sketchy at best. So how do I continue? Do I even bother? Maybe this story will never develop. Maybe I'm just not this type of writer....maybe my hero envy shouldn't be played out on the page. But how do I know?
How does a writer know if they're on a good train of thought?
Well, the first thing I do is push away the insecurities and give myself permission to suck. Yup, I sat down recently, told myself that no matter how bad my ideas are, just keep writing them down.
They were bad. I won't use them, but it was a good exercise. I think a huge hurtle for writers like myself, just starting out, is thinking we can't make mistakes. We can't have a bad idea. That's a lot of pressure, and in my case, I'm only in the brainstorming phase! Isn't this when I'm allowed to have bad ideas?
So here's what I suggest. Go ahead and allow yourself to have terrible ideas and terrible writing. Run your ideas through some sort of filter, maybe a spouse or good friend or writing critique group. Let it simmer. Give it some time on the back burner. If still nothing....write something else. Don't stop writing! I've been writing random short stories while my brain decides if my FBI story is worth pursuing. Just remember, you get better the more you write, so even if you don't use a story, it wasn't a waste. You practiced developing characters, working on tone, suspense...whatever. You worked. You learned. That's always worth it.