Writing Centers and why you should use them

Writing Centers and Why You Should Use Them

I have been fortunate enough to need the services of the Columbia University Writing Center (@310Philosophy on Twitter) on occasion. Fortunate because the experience itself (never mind the final draft or the grade the work ultimately received) was in itself energizing. 

The experience I had was so positive that I began to read up on the CU Writing Center, then on Writing Centers in general, then took a class on How Writer’s Think, where I got the opportunity to observe the Writing Center Consultants working with other students. Like peeking at the man behind the curtain.

What I come away with from this ongoing encounter is that WCs are built on a framework of collaboration and positivity. Not the hollow “good job”s or “this is great”s kind of positivity but rather the pure and freely shared ingredients that go into a writer improving his process. An encounter in the WC brings a writer closer to expressing those things that he believes need to be received.

What WC is not about:

  • correcting spelling, grammar, vocabulary (though, sure, it can have some of this in it)
  • pointing out flaws
  • judging good writing versus bad
  • homogeneity 
  • observing an expert at work
What WC is about:
  • finding the writer’s voice
  • understanding your readers
  • helping a writer focus on what their part in the greater conversation is
  • stepping back for a big perspective
  • moving in for a close perspective
  • (most importantly) what the writer needs it to be about

If a thing you are writing has deep meaning to you, and/or if you are attempting to convey something to a non-you, then you could benefit from the services of a writing center.

The process has taken me from a position of having something I really wanted to write to helping me find how to write it, who I am writing it to, and why I am bothering to write it at all. The clarity I achieved magnified my motivation, which gave me the confidence to collaborate with others, which improved the quality of my writing.

image from Google Creative Commons


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