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
- observing an expert at work
- 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