From Isolation to Community

Isolation is a word that might raise similar images in many minds.

Fund Raising Ideas

Fund Raising Ideas at the Sigma Tau Delta Conference

Someone might think about a prisoner alone in a cell.Others might consider being placed in time out, facing a blank wall. Sometimes the word conjures images of driving along lonely stretches of road in a vehicle. Isolation can also apply to work, and the folks who inhabit Writing Centers often feel a distinct separation from other campus activities. That is why attending a conference can be amazingly invigorating, refreshing, and energizing for those who assist students in one-on-one sessions, which are often located in remote corners or out-of-the-way rooms. Conferences give these dedicated people new ideas, a sense of belonging to a larger community, and increase both productivity and effectiveness in their centers.

Writing Centers have as many distinctly different personalities as do the directors who manage them. Centers may be set up like businesses or doctors’ offices, living rooms with work spaces, or even like break rooms, and directors put their personalities into the room(s) in various ways. At conferences, directors and consultants (tutors) share their research and innovative ideas with each other in both formal and informal settings. Attendees then take the ideas they like and infuse their own centers with them, adding a sense of newness to those home locations. The entire organization benefits from the renewal that occurs when these changes are put in place.

MeetingsAndSuch

Meetings and Such

Likewise, the friendships forged at conferences arouse a sense of community: shared work, vision, challenges, and even a sort of shared dialect. There’s the perception of being in the work together. All face students with too little time, motivation, and interest in improving. However, we also all have those special moments of seeing students who plan ahead, care deeply, and truly want to improve. Exchanging narratives about those moments is somehow inspiring. Just knowing that there are others who participate in and encounter comparable situations simply comforts the listener. Imparting others’ stories to consultants who stayed behind to man the center increases the morale and understanding and helps them to feel included. (So does bringing home little souvenirs!)

As changes are made and stories shared, entire workforces become more productive and effective. Implementing new concepts or philosophies and rekindling excitement reaps benefits of new knowledge and skills. Deeper commitments develop because something innovative and delightful is sparked by variation in the work. A shift occurs when part of the team leaves and returns, impacting old attitudes. Leaders giving small gifts demonstrate appreciation and increase overall morale.

Directors and consultants need to attend conferences to rejuvenate writing centers.

Presenters Preparing to Present

Presenters Preparing to Present

Every attempt should be made to include as many people possible in the trip to maximize profit for the center. However, those who stay behind keeping the doors open and the sessions going will benefit, too, from both the enthusiasm and revelations disclosed by the attendees. Attend and come home refreshed. Then talk, talk, talk to the ones who did not go. Share everything you can recall. Bring that energy home and invigorate the center. Make it new again, to you and to all within.

Written By Kā

Behind the Desk, We’re Just Students like You

We’re the same, you and I.

For some students who come to the Writing Center, it’s a struggle just to get through the door. Sitting down with a consultant and reading your paper out loud? Forget it! Listening as the consultant helps you find ways to improve? No thanks! These consultants don’t know the struggles of writing a research paper. They don’t know what it’s like to have your class grade average hanging in the balance.

But we do. We’re students just like you.

writing-is-hardWe understand your struggles. Writing is hard. Even the famous author Joseph Heller said, “Every writer I know has trouble writing.” We are in the same boat, you and I. Both of us may stay up until three in the morning agonizing over each sentence, desperately trying to make sure we meet the page requirement. Both of us may anxiously wait for our professors to post our grades, hoping that we will do well enough so it doesn’t drag down our class grade average. And both of us may feel like we will never finish this paper in time while the overwhelming stress crashes in around us. We’re just the same, you and I.

We have learned how to keep going. We have learned how to improve our writing. We have learned how to help. That’s what we are here for; we want to help YOU. We may not know your background, history, or situation in life, just like you don’t know ours. But when we sit down at the table with you and your paper, we are there to help because we are just like you.

Maybe you won’t see this until the moment that one of us gets up from behind our desk. May you won’t see this until we help you look over your paper. Maybe you won’t understand this until we reach out to shake your hand and say, “Hi, my name is . . .”

We’re just like you.

-Jenna

Finding Your Voice

Writing, for me, has always been a safe haven. It is my escape route from the world and thoughts that consume my mind. Writing is, for the most part, the only form of communication which I enjoy.

Timages (2)hat being said, I would be lying if I told you that writing is easy. Yes, I know that I am a senior writing consultant in the University Writing Center and that some people think words should automatically flow from my head to my fingers and into the computer, but they don’t. The truth of the matter is that knowing basic grammar rules and how to perfectly format an APA paper is rarely comforting when it comes time to actually sit down and write a paper. In fact, I struggle with academic writing on a daily basis. That’s right; you’re not alone.

One of the greatest struggles that accompany the writing process is finding one’s own voice. Accomplishing this task confuses many people, so you may be thinking, “Well, how in the world am I supposed to do that?” The answer is simple: write.

Writing isn’t as dreadful and excruciating as you might think. In fact, if you’re like me, writing just might turn out to be the only thing that gets you through the day. Instead of solely writing for academic purposes, make it an enjoyable pastime. Journaling, blogging, and writing letters all serve as great gateways into finding your own voice.

Instead of spending hours trying to brainstorm creative subjects to write about, grab a pen and a blank sheet of paper and write whatever comes to mind. Write about things that interest you, topics that you enjoy reading about, or places you have visited in the past. It doesn’t matter what you are writing, as long as you are writing.journal 2

If you share what you have written with others, don’t be afraid to ask them for feedback. Be open to constructive criticism and consider applying what others have said to your writing techniques. Don’t, however, allow harsh remarks to cloud or hinder your voice. The most important thing to remember is this: be yourself.

In academic papers, you want to establish your voice early on, keeping it present throughout. It is common for students to use run-on sentences and fragments in order to showcase their voice, which is why it is important to prove yourself as a strong writer beforehand. You must establish yourself as a capable writer before breaking the rules of grammar.

Increasing the amount of time that you spend writing for your own enjoyment will definitely enhance your abilities as a writer. Writing for yourself enables you to find the voice that may not shine as brightly when writing for bigger audiences. Your voice is important; use it.

-Haley

For more tips on improving your writing, please click here.

Academic-struggle Bus

Are you a frequent rider of the academic-struggle bus? Do you think writing papers is the worst part of college? Do you cry over impending deadlines and dread being given written assignments?

Then this blog post is for you!struggle-bus

First, I want to say I have definitely been there. I’ve procrastinated and pulled all-nighters. I’ve missed deadlines, misplaced rough drafts, misread the directions for assignments. And worst of all, I’ve stared into that awful abyss of an endlessly intimidating blank page, feeling absolutely sure that I would never find worthy words to fill it.

So please believe me when I say this: I know how you feel.

I hated writing for the longest time. And then little by little, I didn’t.

Over the years, particularly the last few of high school and the first few of college, I had to write quite a bit. Even though I didn’t especially love the process, I did love the feeling of accomplishment I got when I finished a paper. I always told myself I was reading my final draft multiple times to check for any errors I’d missed, but in all honesty, I just enjoyed getting to read something I had created.

For me, that was the key that opened my mind to accepting writing as an interesting activity –realizing that writing was creating – that everything I wrote was an entirely new creation and nobody else in the world had ever or would ever arrange the same exact words in the same exact order that I did. Realizing that was amazing to me.

When I started to think of writing as a creative process, I started to see how beautiful it really is, how gifted we really are to have the capability of translating the fluid language of our thoughts into the solid language of our words in writing. That’s how I came to believe that writing is cool.

Sometimes all it takes is a change of perspective.

If creativity isn’t your thing, you can think of it another way. What if you like to argue? Think of writing as arguing. A great deal of the writing you’ll do in college will require an argument of some sort anyway. Writing StruggleEven if you’re writing a compare and contrast essay, you’ll essentially be arguing that two things can be compared and contrasted, and your paper will support that argument with evidence.

What if you like football? You can think of writing a paper like you would think of designing a football play. In football, it’s all about finding the right pattern of moves to reach the endzone without losing the ball. In writing, it’s all about finding the right pattern of words to reach the conclusion without losing the point.

What I’m basically saying is this: whatever you have to do to convince yourself that writing is cool, do it. And as a general rule of life, remember that your attitude will shape your actions. If you spend all day thinking tomorrow will be miserable, it probably will be. If you refuse to think of writing a paper as an opportunity, you will lose the opportunity to enjoy it.

But, if you are confident and excited about your ability to prove your point or reach the endzone or create something new, you’ll enjoy writing a lot more.

 

-Caitlin

For more information on writing an essay please click here.