Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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October 6, 2023

The Writing Jungle, 12 Ways to Stay on the Path

by Laura Rossi

Writing can be a lonely journey.

I’ve been in the writing jungle for over ten years now and, even though I can’t consider myself an expert, I think I can safely say that there’s no right or wrong when it comes to writing.

I’ve seen debates on:

  • What comes first – the characters or the plot.
  • How to write blurbs.
  • How to market a release.
  • Writers arguing on the difference between author and writer- yes, you read that right.

But at the end of the day what works for you is what will make you successfully produce your art.

Follow the Muse.

If a character is speaking to you, let it, see where it takes you. Write everything down, like you’re in a lecture taking notes, don’t worry about the plot, don’t worry about anything but what the character is telling you. If it’s a strong voice, everything else will follow.

Likewise, if you have this amazing story in your head, write it in bullet points and expand as the ideas crowd your mind.

In other words, don’t listen to what others are doing, don’t listen to people telling you there’s one way. There isn’t. Writing is a learning journey, every single story I’ve written has taught me something new. No kidding. And I think it could be useful to share it with you.

Let’s just all agree on a few things first:

  • We write for ourselves.
  • Words are coming from the deepest part of our soul.
  • It’s about communicating what we feel, how we feel.

Writing is making love with a blank page. You want to fill it with love and leave parts of you there forever.

There’s something so powerful and scary at the same time, the idea that it’s just you and that blank page and no one else to turn to. It’s an intense relationship with constant ups and downs.

Some days you’ll love the words, some days you’ll hate the words, but whatever you do, don’t delete the words!!

What I’m basically trying to say is to go with the flow, follow your gut instinct, and leave reasoning with the editor. You can however, like with any form of art, try to follow these simple suggestions – ones that have helped me, that I’ve learned story after story- to make this journey steadier and simpler for you.

1. Organize your writing space.

Get that nerd thinking cap on, pull out those notepads, cool pens and post-its, and make your desk perfect for you to work on. It sounds like a given. No, it isn’t. I’m a messy person and I’m sure a lot of writers are just like me. Organizing your space will lead you to organize your ideas. Trust me on this, it works.

2. Make sure you play with each and every character.

Figure out basic physical aspects – eye colour, height, hair, etc.- and also behavioural traits. Remember, you are the creator of your writing world. You need to envision the characters to make them consistent. Then you move on to the where the characters are at, what happens, and what will change for them at the end of the story. If you’re good at drawing, draw them. Or if you’re like me—helpless—I find that looking for pictures relevant to the theme of my book online helps me build ideas of the character.

3. Write the plot in bullet points first.

Some writers are amazing at writing beginnings, others at writing the endings, or those significant twists that make the story that much more amazing. Whatever is your gift, use it to build the storyline and don’t be scared if you think your method is unconventional.

There’s no order in creating. Take it from me, most of the times I start from endings. I get the general idea of what I want to write and the first thing I do is to write where I want things to end. Then go backwards and build the plot. Our minds work differently and each of us has a different superpower—hence why I suck at writing beginnings.

4. Not everything you write will be in the story.

Embrace this concept, accept it, and keep writing those parts anyways. It’s never a waste of time. I think if your mind is suggesting that you should jot down something, it needs to be done.

Sometimes you need to write it to figure out what you don’t want in the final draft. It’s okay, it’s actually often eye-opening and helps you put a finger on what you don’t like.

5. Don’t delete. I repeat, don’t delete.

What you don’t like now, you may like later, and then poof. The words will be gone and you won’t remember the wording, the phrases the way you’d written them. I usually leave everything in but highlight it in a bright colour so I know I have to be particularly careful when rereading that part, to see if I want to change it or delete it for real.

Also, a good idea is to write comments using the revision tool on your writing program. Write comments to yourself, things you might want to add later, ideas, hints, details that might suit that part of the story. You’ll thank yourself later during editing.

6. Don’t stress over writing.

If overthinking were a sport, writers would be gold. Listen, ideally, we all want to write every day, get a good sprint, feel good and productive about ourselves. But I’m not here to lie, I’m here to tell you what I’ve learned and that is nope. It won’t be like that every day.

If you don’t feel like writing, or if your mind is focused on something else, step away from that computer and go do something else. Otherwise, you won’t write a word, you’ll feel frustrated, and you’ll lose confidence. Best go for a walk, watch that TV series you were meaning to watch or go out with a friend. You’ll go back to the story with fresh ideas and a different perspective.

7. The writing community is immense.

It’s filled with lovely, helpful, and kind people just as much as bitter, manipulative, and dishonest ones.

Best advice I can give you is:

  • Stay alert.
  • Don’t trust easily.
  • Never pay in advance for any service (editing, gadgets, marketing, cover art) if not via PayPal or any secure payment, so you can always contact to get your money back in case things don’t go as planned.

8. Get yourself the best editor money can buy.

That’s one thing you don’t want to mess up. If it’s just you and that blank page in the early stages of the story, it will be you, the editor and that page filled with corrections, suggestions, and comments before publishing. You want to make sure you deliver the best novel you can manage.

9. Indie or Traditional publisher?

Ha, this alone could be a post. You can try both of them out. I’m indie for most markets and traditionally published in Italy. There are pros and cons for both, but I haven’t made my mind up yet on which is best. However, if you want to go with a publisher, get yourself an agent first.

10. Look into Facebook and Amazon ads.

Whether you are indie or traditionally published, you want to learn how to create good adds. It’s what will give you visibility these days.

11. For the love of God, do not read reviews.

And I say this knowing that you are now wandering off, straight on to those reviews I just told you not to look at. Fine, read them if you want, but keep two things in mind:

  1. Don’t let a bad review outvalue the great ones. Why do we always believe the worst and never the beautiful things people say about our work? If the bad review is just offensive and not constructive, ignore it darling. It’s of no use to you.
  2. Whatever you do, never comment on a review. (Goodreads lets you do that but no, no, no, stay away from the comment button because it will only end up in a debate, an ugly one. Trust me, I've been there, done that, and I'd take it back if I could.)

12. Last, but not least, be you.

No this is not some slogan to write on a t-shirt, I mean it. Seriously. Trying to imitate other writers or writing the same kind of stories over and over again might feel like the right choice in terms of marketing and building readers, but only if you focus on your uniqueness. Remember who you are and why you are a writer. It will pay off.

I hope my personal to do list has helped you or given you a new boost. Happy writing!!!  

How is your writing journey? What keeps you on your writing path?

* * * * * *

About Laura

Laura Rossi is an Italian multi-genre writer. Raised in the US and in the UK, where she graduated in Psychology and Criminology, she now resides in Italy with her family.

Devotedly interested in the human mind, Laura likes to scare people saying she goes ‘from sweet to psycho in a matter of seconds’ with her characters. One day she’s writing something sweet and funny, the other she’s crafting dark, flawed characters for edgy, twisted stories.

When she’s not busy working in her family business or being a mom, she loves to travel and attend rock shows. If you see her wandering around town with a wicked smile on her lips, she’s probably thinking of putting you in one of her novels, plotting a new thriller in her head or figuring out which character needs to get the bullet.

For any rights or sub-rights query, Laura is represented by agent Nikki Groom at SBR Media.


Follow Laura

@laurarossiauthor on Facebook and Instagram

Thelaurarossi_situation on Tik Tok

Top Image by Alan Frijns from Pixabay

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13 comments on “The Writing Jungle, 12 Ways to Stay on the Path”

  1. Hi Laura!

    You make some great points.
    Not everyone writes sequentially.

    I tend to start at the beginning and work my way through, changing scenes as the muse suggests and sometimes characters insist. They can be problem children.

    That first chapter always seems to need the most work, for me anyway.

    Interesting that you begin at the end.

    Thank you for your advice!

    1. Oh Ellen that first chapter is hard, I struggle with the first page too 😂but I find that once you get the main points out the rest follows (more or less anyway).

  2. This was great! Lots of good tips. I think I read too many craft books, trying to find some writing routine, style, etc. that would work for me, when really I just need to write what I want, how I want, when I want! And quit trying to find somebody else’s process to fit me.

  3. This is a lovely collection of advice. Like Ellen, I don't always write in order. It might be more accurate to say, "I never write in order." LOL. That is one of the most important parts of my creative process, and it really makes that "best editor that I can afford" advice vital.

    Interestingly, John Irving (A Prayer for Owen Meany) plotted from the end. That was just how his process worked. I am a firm believer in embracing whatever process gets you to The End. 🙂

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