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Summer Adventures Part One: The Winding Rapids of Writing

June 25, 2015

by: Kristi Brown Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 1.28.50 PM

I recently went tubing down the New River for the first time. The day was supposed to be a relaxing one spent with friends and cold water, but it took a tragic turn when we saw a large furry object just a few yards ahead of us. When we began to breathe in the scent of decaying flesh, it wasn’t so carefree anymore. Apparently, a deer had spent its last moments on the bank of that very same river, and its remains were on the shore. Upon seeing this, I panicked because my float was drifting closer and closer to the carcass; I attempted to jerk away from the deer, and as I did, I unintentionally flipped myself out of my float, which cast me into the river, even closer to the deer, and completely submerged me in the water.

Once I was in the water, I continued to panic, grabbing onto my float handles, trying to hoist myself back in. However, the more I struggled, the closer I floated to the body, and I was unable to lift myself out of the water. Finally, one of my friends held my float while I took deep breaths and lifted myself onto it. After this struggle, I thought “the worst is over,” and it was, but it didn’t mean there wouldn’t be more challenges to come.

Later, I reflected on the hurdles I faced, and I began to correlate my challenges of tubing with the writing process. Through the tubing experience, I learned some helpful things about what to do and what not to do while working on a writing assignment.

  1. Make a Plan

Before I left for the trip, I knew I had to make several arrangements in order to have a successful day on the river. The first step of the adventure was to make an appointment with the river touring company. Next, I had to pack all the necessary supplies: drinks, snacks, sunscreen, water shoes, and sunglasses; without any one of these supplies, the day wouldn’t have been as fun. Even though it is impossible to plan for everything, being prepared was helpful when inconvenient or unexpected challenges arose; for instance, when I saw the deer carcass, I had to use my water shoes to drag myself and my float away from the deer. If I had not been wearing the shoes, it would have been more difficult (and dangerous) to trudge across the slippery river floor.

Completing a writing assignment is similar to a tubing trip because adequate planning is essential. Upon receiving an assignment, the first step is to read through the requirements and formulate a plan of attack; sometimes it is tempting to wait until the last minute, but by doing so, it’s easier to forget things.

  1.  Start Early

The river tubing experience was only supposed to take three hours, but it ended up taking about four hours in total. The unexpected challenges like rocks and the deer carcass caused the trip to take longer.

Writing assignments can be similar in that they can often take longer than expected. Sometimes it is difficult to find quality research materials, or the computer suddenly freezes up.  Since these things are impossible to predict, it is better to start in advance.

  1.  Embrace the Challenges

While I floated down the river, I kept getting stuck in branches or rocks. I quickly learned that I only had minimal control, and after my initial panic about the deer, it became apparent that freaking out about unexpected hurdles was ineffective. I realized that the best thing to do was embrace the rocks and branches, trusting in my skills to remove myself from hazardous situations, To move away from these things, I had to be patient and persistent, and calmly wiggle my way off of the rock or paddle away from the shore.

In any writing assignment, challenges are inevitable. When things get troublesome, it is best to breathe, relax, and be diligent. Panicking about assignments is likely to cause writer’s block rather than success. Approaching assignments with a calm, patient attitude is more likely to produce quality work.

  1. Reflect on the Journey

Similar to the deer carcass in the water, sometimes writing assignments involve unexpected adversities; even the best writers encounter challenges and can benefit from assistance, which is where the University Writing Center steps in. I would not have made it back into my tube after the experience with the deer without my friend’s help. Sometimes, the writing process can seem as hopeless as drifting towards a deer carcass, and in those moments, the Writing Center provides the necessary support and assistance to float past disaster and into success. If something is worth achieving, it is bound to contain challenges, but that doesn’t discredit the adventure of the journey.

After four hours of floating and paddling my way through the river, I was exhausted, but when I looked back and saw how far I’d traveled, suddenly, all the struggles were worth it. Upon completing a writing assignment, it is satisfying to look back at all the challenges and realize that they were essential in the overall learning experience.

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