“I’ve guided rafting trips for twelve seasons during my summers off as a writing professor. Guiding has taught me to seek the balance between pressure and calm, both on and off the river. On the river, it’s part of a guide’s job to create a bit of emotional pressure to help guests paddle well. Without pressure, guests might not put forth the effort needed for a good run down dangerous rapids. Maybe they came for the idea of rafting. A guide gets to introduce them to the work of it. In my writing process, there’s no pressure or guide like a good deadline. Without deadlines, I can easily float along for days, enjoying the idea of writing while skipping the work.
But it’s also a guide’s job to create a sense of calm. Too much pressure becomes fear, doubt, anxiety, and makes paddlers freeze. The same is true of writing a project. I need a way to calm my headspace. I find hikes in a forest, running, a gym session—anything daily and physical—speedily translates into calm when it is time to write again. A day on a river does the trick especially well.”
—Andrew J. Graff, author of Raft of Stars (Ecco, 2021)