ALL FORWARD!! ALL BACK!! STOP!! HIGH SIDE RIGHT!! HIGH SIDE LEFT!! GET DOWN!!
If a reader is a white-water rafter like myself, then he/she is aware that these are the very commands that will help prepare a rafter to successfully and safely maneuver the rapids. Whether these rapids are a Class one (beginner) or Class 5 (Advanced), the commands are important to know and understand. The same can be said for the process of writing, which will be outlined and expanded on in this article.
I was first introduced to white-water rafting when I was in high school. I started writing stories when I was in my elementary school years. It not only was a source of enjoyment, but rather a form of therapeutic intervention. One adventure led to another, and my stationery pads and notebooks were filling up rapidly. The love of writing and storytelling enveloped me. Quite simply, I was hooked!
So let’s return to how white-water rafting can be applied to writing. Before rafters actually go into the water, they need to fill out the necessary paperwork and get fitted for a life vest; then they are transported by bus to the designated location. A person who is about to take on a writing project or assignment first needs to plan out where the task will take place and what supplies will be necessary for successful follow-through and completion. For me, I work on a laptop out of my home, but I have found that, as a writer, it is also imperative to have plenty of notebooks and pads available in case I want to handwrite bits and pieces for future ideas. I would strongly encourage every writer to have some kind of journal around in the house, car or other location because one just never knows when inspiration is going to present itself. To give an example, my most recent rafting trip was in the Adirondack Mountains with a close friend of mine who had never done this outdoor activity before, and I was thrilled to go on the adventure with him. It was an amazing time, and when we returned to the bus, we had a half-hour ride back to headquarters. I could have utilized that time to document all that had transpired during our trip and the magnificent scenery, but I did not have any paper available to write on (it was strongly recommended to not have many electronic devices around, as we were soaked from the rapids). Sure, I could record it all later, but there is nothing like those first moments following the end of an incredible experience. Major lesson here—always be prepared!
During the initial bus ride, the guides inform every rafter of the rules and guidelines, description of the paddles and how to use them, and the type of rapids to be experienced (classes). The guides, at least during my trip, threw in some humor, but the bottom line is there is inherent danger in this type of activity, and following the guidelines and using the tools properly make the difference in having a safe and thrilling adventure or there being possible issues along the way. When taking on a writing gig or specific assignment, it is very important to follow the guidelines put forth. Even though writing is an art and craft, there are still expected protocols to maintain. I remember back to my university graduate years where we often had group projects that involved each member being designated a particular section of topic to research and present about. Each group was given a grade; not individual grades. I witnessed one class in particular where protocol was not followed in one of the groups, and the grade was affected by it. Writers want to get their work out there, so research and listening to those in charge of the platforms are a necessity. There are multiple opportunities available to write for magazines, but it is crucial to take the time to peruse and study the guidelines before sending a sample, proposal, or full-blown article. They are there for a reason, and it helps establish credibility and future success.
An additional factor about white-water rafting is being open that a certain river may not be the best one to travel at that particular time. This is when listening to the guide is REALLY critical. A rafter may feel that it can be handled, but tackling a waterway that is beyond that person’s ability and training can be detrimental in so many ways. The highest rapids I can safely raft are Class 3. I am not ready for higher rapids without additional training and experience. The same applies to a writer. As I mentioned at the beginning of my article, I have been writing stories since I was a young child, but that does not mean I am ready to write a grant proposal for a major company or non-profit. There are so many rungs on the writing ladder, and skipping one can hinder the growth process of an aspiring author, blogger, or scriptwriter. There are numerous opportunities to grow and flourish as a writer, and then it will be possible to reach that Class 5 level! I am a big believer in that small steps lead to large mountaintops!
Each writer has a gift to contribute—something unique and special that will bless the world where a word of hope is greatly needed. Circumstances, challenges, and even well-meaning people’s opinions can become rapids in our minds and hearts, and this is where we need our own personal guide—someone who knows, understands and lives the world of a writer. This person can be your life vest when the rejections come and help build you up to maneuver the next ones. Find a writing coach to be there for you and show you the way to the next level. With the proper tools, guidelines, trainer, and setting, it is possible to have the adventure of a lifetime!