5 Tips To Staying Fit Mentally As A Writer

Vikram Patel says, “Being mentally fit improves our overall wellbeing and prevents other illnesses.” And since deficiency in the mental status will have a severe negative impact on anyone, making it a priority can remarkably improve our quality of life.

Really, the importance of our psychological wellbeing cannot be stressed enough; neither is it out of place to assert that other areas of our being depend hugely on this to function optimally.

But sadly, especially within our demography, this singular aspect of our lives receives zero or no attention. There are various ways to maintain positive mental health and live a fulfilling and enjoyable life.

As a writer, there are few things to pay attention to:

  1. Refrain from negative thoughts: No matter how overused this may sound, you are your thoughts. You act out what you brood over, which, if negative, can torment you mercilessly. So, it’s essential to pay attention and change them.
  2. Shun toxic relationships: If it’s not improving you, it’s not worth it. If they are not helping you get better, they deserve no space in your life. Moreover, why give your time to irrelevancies at the detriment of your mental health. You deserve better!
  3. Tend to your errors with love: How do you react to your mistakes? What do you say to yourself? “Oh! I’m such a failure,” or “I never do anything right.” Truth be told, we cannot completely erase our chances of tripping but we can control how we react to them.

Your first draft was nothing close to your expectation. Okay? The beautiful piece you invested all of your energy to develop received smothering criticisms. Okay? Well that’s not enough reason to crucify yourself.

Quit the cursing and self-belittling as they don’t solve anything. Instead, take a deep breath. Relax. Appreciate your efforts. Reward yourself for taking those courageous little steps. In reciprocity, your mental health would be bountifully rewarded.

  1. Take care of yourself: This cannot be stressed enough. It is vital, no matter where you fall on the mental health spectrum. Self-care is a necessity! 90% of the time, our job as writers requires that we sit for a good portion of the day.

To minimize the toll that this can take, get up and stretch at intervals. Go for a walk if you can. When you do this, you’re improving blood circulation, which also helps to stimulate brain function. And when you return, you’d be a lot more productive. In addition, scrutinize your nutritional consumption thoroughly. Watch what you eat. Rest well.

And I cannot forget to add exercise as there are significant mental benefits hidden therein.

  1. Unwind: Sometimes, we get so caught up in the daily demands of life that we forget to truly live. Once in a while, step out of your comfort zone and give yourself a break. Your body and overall health will thank you for it.

It is up to you to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are only healthy for your body but also your mind. Your mental health is a priority. Take care of it and stay fit.

Do you have other tips capable of helping us stay mentally fit as writers?

We look forward to hearing from you.

How to Write a Book Review

Review writing is one of the most relevant modern-day writing skills. More so, it is used in selling books and analyzing their content. What sells a book are the reviews written on it, although the role of the words of mouth cannot be overemphasized too.

A book review is a critical appraisal of a book, article, play, film, etc. It is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style and merit.

There are two kinds of book review:

Prepublication and

Post-publication review.

Whereas prepublication review is written for libraries and bookshops that are going to purchase the book in bulk, the post-publication review is written for people who are potential readers of the book being reviewed.

Approaches to Review Writing

There are two approaches to writing a book review: descriptive and critical review.

Descriptive review gives the essential information about a book. This is done with description and exposition, by stating the perceived aims and purposes of the author, and by quoting striking passages, dialogues, etc., from the book.

Critical review describes and evaluates the book in terms of accepted literary and historical standards, and supports this evaluation with evidence from the book.

A book review is expected to answer two questions:

  • What is the book about?
  • How good is the book?

Understanding what a nonfiction book is all about and how good it is, for instance, is relatively a straightforward process. The reviewer only needs to determine if the author was able to express his thoughts and ideas clearly in a way that the reader can understand.

Determining how good a fiction piece is, on the other hand, requires that the reviewer understands the five elements of fiction: character, setting, plot, theme and style and how effectively the author used these elements.

Becoming a good reviewer rests on only one factor – experience. Experience is developed through consistent writing, in-depth understanding of book content and the ability to explain the same.

The Importance of Being a Reader

The American inventor, Thomas Edison, is probably well known for his invention of the first commercially viable light bulb. Another common knowledge about him is that it took him about a thousand failed patent experiments to invent the light bulb successfully. This is as basic as most people know about the inventor.

Growing up as a child, Thomas had quite several challenges that made him stay away from school. He was home-schooled by his mother and subsequently self-educated himself by reading extensively on various and wide range of disciplines. In a couple of years to come, the ideas that gave birth to his invention would come from his reading and studies.

A lot of people nowadays want to become the best thing that has happened to writing after James Joyce but are unwilling to bear the sacrifice it requires. Being a reader is as equally important as identifying as a writer. To become a good writer, you have to read well and read always. Virginia Woolf had a massive library at her disposal while growing up as a child. It should not come as a surprise then that she turned out to be one of the best writers of the 20th century.

No writer ever turned out great without been an avid reader, and most of these writers are products of what they read. One of Nigeria’s finest poets, Christopher Okigbo, had read the French poet, Stéphane Mallarmé, so much that Okigbo’s poetry took the obscurantist form of Mallarmé’s. Read and read until writing becomes an effortless means of expression for you, but before then, here are some essential tips you need to know on how to become a great reader.

Not every reader will become a writer

This is a truth that a lot of aspiring writers do not want to hear – we all cannot become writers and not all writings are fully formed as quickly as you might expect. Whenever you read, therefore, you should do so with intent to grow your wealth of knowledge and expand your mind. It might take a longer time than you imagine to become the writer you want to be, but do not stop reading. Millard Kaufman was 90 years old when he published his first novel,  Bowl of Cherries.

Read the right stuff

Be intentional and strategic about your reading because what and who you read will pile up into a reservoir of knowledge, and they will influence what you will write, eventually. Desist from reading everything that comes your way. While this might be a bit difficult to adhere to, you should look out for authors you aspire to become and whose works you admire. Read them religiously. The aim is not to become like them, but to be influenced by them. Create a reading timetable for yourself; read around selected topics, themes, periods and authors. This strategic reading habit will help you carve a voice of your own when and if you begin to write.

Develop yourself

Language is more than a medium of communication; it is a signifier of culture, a mirror of thoughts and life. Most 17th century writers were able to speak at least two languages, from Latin to Greek, French and English. Their works were rich because their thought processes were formed from different linguistic roots. Every language is a corpus of the historical and cultural nuances of its speakers. Whatever language you speak, read and might decide to write with, master it very well. Understand the nitty-gritty of the language. In the books that you read, make sure you pay attention to how the authors make use of grammar, syntax and figurative expressions.

As a reader and writer, understanding two or more languages gives you access to alternative universes of thoughts. You would never be restricted by the limitations of thought and expression. If you find it difficult to form a thought or an idea in one language, you can easily seek refuge in another.

Read without ceasing

We cannot overemphasize the importance of reading. Keep reading to increase your wealth of knowledge and flourish your universe of imagination. When the time is right for you to write, there will be an unlimited reservoir of knowledge at your disposal. No one grows out of reading, so keep at it because there is no end to reading.

How To Write A Compelling Story

Storytelling is one pastime almost—if not—everybody engages in. We all have stories to tell; we recount events to our friends, family, and colleagues. These stories birth emotions that cause tears or laughter.

Now that you have seen how natural storytelling is, you don’t have to stiffen up next time you try to put those words to paper. It’s not so hard. Let’s look at a few tips that will help guide you:

  • Figure out what your audience needs: Both fiction and non-fiction storytelling have this in common. At the end of the story, what do they expect to gain? Or what do you want them to learn? With this in mind, constructing a story will be a lot easier.
  • Set the story: Every story is set in a place or time. Some settings are more specific than some others, which are more descriptive and expansive. For instance, December 25, 2011—Ikeja, Lagos—11 p.m. or more descriptive like The hut stood crooked, as if leaning in the direction of the wind, cracks running from top to bottom like veins protruding from an old man’s hand, giving it character.
  • Characters: Especially in fiction storytelling, it is easy to get hung up on making your protagonist perfect and your antagonist, well, the devil. Your protagonist is the center of the story with a clear goal that they plan to achieve at the end of the story, and the antagonist is the one person or thing standing between them and their goals. There are other central characters that the plot revolves around who are important to the story too.
  • Plot: The sequence of events that cause a connection between audience and protagonist.
  • Cause and effect: A bulk of your story should be told in a way that everything that goes on in the story is caused by the event preceding it. Though there are other instances where it would be better to go the other way, this format helps with the flow and understanding.

Cause: They have a big fight.

Effect: She takes a walk.

Instead of telling it as She takes a walk because they had a big fight, tell it as, There was palpable tension between them after the confrontation, so she grabbed her jacket and went for a walk.

  • Conflict: The only reason a reader stays hooked to your story is that they can’t wait to see how you resolve the conflict that the characters, especially the protagonist, have been thrown into. It is the conflict that builds the suspense, one of the main elements of an exciting story.

I hope these tips help you tell your story. But if you can’t find the time to write that story, Sabi Writers can do it for you!

What NOT to Do as a Writer

There will be times as a writer you will start doubting your talent, especially as a fresh face in the industry.

Starting out, your work may not get as much recognition as you may have hoped and you’ll begin to think deeply about whether or not you have enough talent to get ahead. You’ll start criticizing your art, throwing it out in the trash because you figured, if I do it exactly the way my idol does it, I’ll get the attention I deserve.

This not only makes writing difficult for you, but it also takes away your authenticity, and you lose the sense of fun and satisfaction you derive from putting words together.

While trying to find or create a niche for yourself, here are a few things you should NOT do:

  1. DON’T feel demoralized: Not everything you write will be loved in the first instant. Sometimes, your clients or audience might express their displeasure or harshly critique your work. Don’t take it to mean you are a terrible writer; instead, embrace it. Let it serve as a guide in the future, and that way, you become better.
  1. DON’T ignore the details: Don’t gloss over specifics, hoping that your audience will miss it. Even if they do, you do not want to associate yourself with a mediocre piece of art in the future just because you were too lazy. Do your best and give your best, every time.
  1. DON’T give up: It is healthy to take a break when you feel overwhelmed. But don’t stop writing, especially if that’s what makes you happy. Give it a minute, take a breath of fresh air, and dive right back into it. Don’t let anything, not even yourself, steal your voice from you.
  1. DON’T stop learning: You can’t pour from an empty jar. If you are not careful, a few seconds of fame and a couple of commendations later, your head will begin to swell. Then you start feeling like you know it all and you don’t have any need for new information. Keep consuming content that keeps you knowledgeable and abreast of times—it shines through your work.
  1. DON’T worry too much: Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked by what someone else is doing. Appreciate their art but don’t dwell on it or use it as a yardstick to measure your creativity. Focus on your craft and hone your skills.

Very importantly, don’t forget that SABI WRITERS is here to help you with all of your writing needs. Contact us today.