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The Essential Top 5 List for Writers

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Are you ready for the best wiz-bang Top 5 list for an aspiring writer? Well, I’m afraid I’ve brought you here under false pretenses. Because, for me, I hate Top 5 lists. Or any number you can think of. They try and distill writing down into some type of easy to digest nugget, that I believe, isn’t possible.

Now, I’m not talking about grammatical points. Grammar is a pretty strict code of rules–though even the English language likes to play with those rules a lot. So I’ll give them a pass. If you find a good list of grammar rules, thumbs up, you’ve got something you can use. Here is even a solid list on Line Editing.

Why do they work? Because they are pretty unchanging.

The creative process, however, isn’t something you can codify. It isn’t simple. It is far from easy. It can change from person to person. Are there some key things you should keep in mind? Sure. But what are those key things? I’ll give you time to think about them…

My wager, is that everyone thought of something different right now. Why?  Because there are so many different ones floating around. And those key points to remember are different for everyone writer. Trying to wrangle something as nebulous as the art of writing down to simple steps is nearly impossible.

I just did a search for a top five list. I came upon the website Novelicious.com. They have an entire section dedicated to writing tips. Which are page after page of top five lists. There is: “Top 5 Writing Tips from Lesley Pearse,” “Paige Toon’s Top 5 Tips for Wrting,” “Sasha Wagstaff’s Top 5 Writing Tips,” “Jenny Colgan’s Top 5 Writing Tips,” and I could keep going.

And each one is just platitudes and cliches. Where is the substance? Lesley Pearse’s first tip is, “Don’t be slovenly.” Really? This is a tip? Her number four is just down right inane.

” Don’t show your work to anyone but agent or editor. Anyone else will tell you it’s great, even if its dire. It’s your baby, nurture it yourself.”

What a great tip, Lesley.

If I had an editor and an agent.

Now I see your counter argument. There are so many different lists because it is different for everyone. You’re correct. But each writer is going to read most of these. And some lists are counter intuitive to each other. So which ones do you listen to? How about these two. Instead of reading so many lists, just start writing and work out your methods and style. Also, read and dissect your favorite works. Learn from them.

And Writing Excuses is pretty cool too.

Why do writer’s list these lists?

I brought up this question to the good writing folks on Reddit. One response was rather telling.

Bloggers “top lists” them because they take minimal effort and the format is conductive to being shared/reblogged. — MCoorlim

That makes me sad. We’re writers. We should have a stronger pride in our delivery of information and discussion. We should also have a longer attention span. If you find yourself zoning out on a blog that’s trying to help, then it probably wasn’t interesting to begin with.

Hey, over here.  *snap snap*

Maybe I should do my own Top 5 Tips. I could just make up some B.S. and throw it up each week. Seems like people eat it up. Better yet, I’ll have my “Baker’s Top 2 Tips for Writers:”

1. Write a lot

2. Read a lot

That’s how you build an audience, right? Write.



  1. Subhakar Das says:

    I would say – write a lot, but read twice as much

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