English Department
Writing Center

Your Writing Center Conference:

what you should bring and how to prepare

The writing center is the place on campus where students in introductory writing courses as well as advanced writers will find a receptive audience for their work. Here writers at any stage in the writing process can work one-on-one with a peer tutor in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Whether brainstorming, drafting, revising, or editing, you'll get the input you need and learn to help yourself as a writer.

What should you bring?

Bring your assignment so that both you and your tutor will understand what your instructor has asked you to do. If you are writing a paper using other sources, bring the readings; if not, bring notes, an outline, or even a list of questions to help focus the conference. If you have nothing on paper and are having trouble just getting started, the writing center is the place to go to begin. In fact, the earlier in the writing process you stop by, the better. If one conference is not enough, you may want to return as your work progresses. You can visit the writing center as often as you want.

What is your role?

Come ready to assume an active role in the conference. Our goal is to help you become a better, more confident writer. We can best do this when you are willing to participate actively -- by explaining your concerns and needs, by asking specific questions about your paper, by trying to answer the questions your tutor will often ask you, and by assuming responsibility for revising your paper.

What is the tutor's role?

Your tutor is a student and a writer just like you. Tutors are trained to help you become a better writer by working with you on a specific writing assignment. You can expect the tutor to help you identify strengths and potential problems in your paper, to help you learn strategies and techniques for solving the problems, and to help you clarify your ideas and communicate them effectively to your readers. The tutor will make suggestions and ask questions; the tutor will not impose ideas on you. In many cases the tutor's most valuable role is to act as a knowledgeable and impartial reader -- to tell you where something is particularly well said or where your writing seems unclear, to point out where your writing is clear and concrete or to identify the need to develop or support an assertion or idea.

What are the goals?

Be willing to discuss your goals for the conference. Your tutor is practiced at identifying potential problems and suggesting potential solutions to them. You may notice problems in your writing different from those the tutor identifies. You may, for example, be concerned about punctuation, whereas your tutor may think your ideas need to be developed or your organization needs attention. Try to be open to these suggestions and to discuss potential differences of opinion. Remember, our goals are the same as yours: not only do you want to write a better paper, but you want to become a more accomplished writer as well. We look forward to seeing you soon at the center!

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