For the first month or so, I'l just stick to pinyin because it is, in my opinion, just too difficult to start with the characters right away. Once you have a very superficial grasp on what's going on, start on the characters (learn the characters for the words you already know. For example 我、你、好、他、她、它、是、不 etc). You do need the characters, they are very important. Learning characters is NOT difficult, contrary to what many people say. Learning characters takes A LOT of time, but there is nothing difficult about it. You get a pen/pencil and a piece of paper, and you copy them out again and again and again. It gets easier the more you know, because you start to become familiar with them and the same shapes reappear again and again. If you just keep doing it, day after day after day, then you will eventually overcome this barrier. The key is doing it every day, that salami slice technique, just keep doing it every day, and have faith in the idea that you will get better at it and it will get much easier (I know how impossible it seems at the beginning, I do).