The Importance of Handouts (And Not the Government Kind)

Over the summer, the University Writing Center completed an important overhaul of all our handouts. Through many hours of meticulous, detailed work, the UWC staff edited and revised all ninety-four of our quick reference flyers in preparation for the fall 2015 semester. Plastered with a new logo, the handouts were printed and placed outside our office in a new, more colorful shelving system.

Every so often, the Writing Center staff edits our handouts to ensure that they are up-to-date with the most relevant information for our students. From grammar review sheets to formatting packets to resume help, the handouts are carefully revised in an easy-to-read format. As needed, students are UWC Logowelcome and encouraged to refer to our handouts as refreshers or for step-by-step instructions.

Why are handouts so important? From a student’s perspective, the UWC handouts are an invaluable resource when writing a paper. Iffy on how to use commas correctly? Use our handout. Confused about how to arrange footnotes in Turabian? Use our handout. Stuck on how to eliminate first person pronouns and convert them to third person? Use our handout. Each handout is packed with easy definitions, explanations, and examples so that students can learn how to write effectively.

11230601_10153587826239501_7784420177866397354_nAt the same time, handouts serve a dual purpose. Not only are they invaluable for students, they are irreplaceable for consultants as well. Handouts allow us a way to offer examples and easy definitions during sessions with students. Many times, we turn to the handouts to help explain a concept or rule. We use them as supplements so that the student may understand the importance of writing well. While they do not replace face-to-face consultations, the handouts are helpful references that are ready whenever students may need them.

So as this new semester of learning dawns and summer-tanned students return from vacation, the handouts are fresh and ready. And so are we.


The Writing Center’s handouts are always available online (here: and outside the UWC office.

Written by Jenna

Frazzled but Saved by Grace

While sitting at my desk in the Writing Center this morning, I stared at my schedule in confusion. “I only work two hours today,” I said to my colleagues, “That can’t be right.” Since I made my work schedule for the fall semester several weeks ago, I could not remember my reasoning behind working so few hours on Tuesdays, so I pulled out my class schedule in a frenzy. Sure enough, my brain had completely blocked out two of my classes. “Man, the first weekstressed of the semester is full of surprises,” I exclaimed.

As a junior at DBU, this semester is surely not my first rodeo; however, I find myself feeling just as unprepared as I did when I was a freshman. I do not have all of my books. I have not met a single one of my professors.  And, believe it or not, I have yet to pay a dime of my first tuition installment.

Between work, class, campus life, and church, I feel as though I am completely in over my head at times. Unlike SpongeBob, I am not ready.

That being said, however, I know something that keeps me from drowning in all of this commotion:

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (New International Version, Ps. 18:2).

No matter how crazy or difficult the beginning of the semester may feel, I know that my God is here to save me from the messiness. He hears my cries of concern and confusion and, in return, blankets a spirit of peace and tranquility over me just to get me through the day.

So, now, I ampraying writing this to encourage each and every one of you to realize the same. When the weight of the new semester begins to weigh down on you, have faith that the Lord will keep you from sinking. When your textbooks cost an arm and a leg more than what you have budgeted, lean on the Everlasting Rock for financial support. When the Wi-Fi is down and you cannot submit your homework, remember that the Lord’s plans for you are bigger than any one assignment. Embrace the sloppiness of crashing computers and missing student IDs and take on the surprises of the semester in full-force, trusting that God is with you every step of the way.

And from the University Writing Center, welcome back! We are so excited to see your bright, shiny, and somewhat frazzled faces this semester!

Written by Haley

Photo credit: &

Poetry In Construction

The drops of rain pounded like bullets off the tin roof. Their clang echoed within the mudded walls of my room. I sat on my bed reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A Swiftly Tilting Planet. As Charles Wallace rode atop Guadior, the winged unicorn, the rain water seeped through the window sill, the drops congregating in puddles on my room’s floors.

Working with locals

I was in Siquatepeque, Honduras during the wet season. It had been raining for ten hours straight. My feet slipped through the flooded hall of the small, adobe house.

“Feels like I’m swimming in lake Yojoa,” I thought.

“Ben,” Kristina, the mom of the house, called, “Venga.”

Dinner was ready. I joined the family at the kitchen table. Water incased its legs. Lenincito, my eleven year-old roommate, flopped his feet against the tile rhythmically.

“No Lenin!” Sarah, his sister, yelled, angry that her legs were soaked.

Kristina handed me a plate. On it laid two fresh baleadas and some slices of avocado.

“Gracias mamá!” I licked my lips. Kristina was famous for her baleadas.

This summer I found myself in Honduras for six weeks. When I first arrived in Siquatepeque, I asked myself the simple

Working on a cabana at SEBCAH seminary

question: “What on Earth am I doing in Honduras?”

Construction. That was the answer. I was the Construction Intern for Camino Global, a Christian mission organization.

There was only one problem: I knew nothing about construction. As a Writing Center Consultant, my fingers were used to holding pens and pencils, not hammers and screw drivers. Nevertheless, many blisters later, I learned that book readers can also be homebuilders.

But, I also learned that construction is like poetry.

In another book by L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time, Calvin O’Keefe describes the forms of sonnets. A Shakespearean sonnet is typically fourteen lines, following the rhyme scheme of:

a b a b

c d c d

e f e f

g g

Though these regulations seem to stint the creative process, they actually sustain it. Without form, a poem is like a painting deprived of a canvas. The paint starbursts everywhere, reaching the corners of the earth. Yet it spreads itself thin, revealing not a grand masterpiece, but a poor picture without centrality and reason.

In the same way, a house is comprised of necessary components. Without exact measurements and cuts, the walls collapse,

Spanish class in Siquatepeque, Honduras

the floors crack, and the home cannot function properly, which is to provide shelter for a living being.

In a great dance, disorder and order twirl hand in hand. The universe is a poem: from the hundreds of stipulations that hold the planets together in fragile gravitational pulls, to the millions of mysteries mankind doesn’t understand and may never understand, we find ourselves within the realms of black matter, where form and chaos battle, creating beauty.

What I Learned from the Classics

My brother once told me that the definition of a “classic” was a book that everyone knows about but no one reads. Aside from the obvious attempt at being snarky, he was right about one thing. Sometimes people don’t think that the “classics” are applicable to life as we know it. This makes me sad; so, I chose a few of my favorite works and set out to prove that these literary masterpieces are worth your time. Not only do they provide humorous insight, they also impart valuable lessons about life, character, and relationships.

Please note that snarkiness (is that a word?) may or may not run in my family, so I couldn’t be completely prim and proper as I wrote this. Here we go.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens:third wheeling pic

  • No one is ever too far gone to turn his or her life around. Sydney Carton’s ultimate sacrifice illustrated this beautifully.
  • Doing the right thing isn’t always easy; it usually requires self-sacrifice.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

  • Money can’t buy happiness.
  • Optimism is a wonderful trait, but people aren’t perfect; they might let you down.
  • Calling someone “old sport” is no longer a thing (At least not in America).

Lord of the Flies by William Golding:

  • The struggle for survival can sometimes break the strongest of principles.
  • Doing the right thing can alienate you from people you thought you knew.
  • Never underestimate the power of a hungry boy.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte:

  • Never back down on your convictions. Do what you know is right, whether it is convenient or not.
  • Be careful who you marry – people be crazy.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway:

  • Never, ever give up. Also, sharks are jerks.
  • Survival of the fittest: some people don’t choose to destroy you, but instead take aim at your greatest accomplishment.
  • Never, ever give up.
  • After you’ve accomplished what you set out to do, take a nap.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll:

  • Making up words is easier than you think.
  • Don’t do drugs.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift:

  • In which you could call someone a Yahoo, and you’d be right.
  • England and Ireland did not get along
  • Never go on a cruise.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien:

  • Good is worth fighting for.
  • He should have gone to Jared.

Written by Carilee

(photo credit:

Finding Your Inspiration

Have you ever sat at your computer screen that displays a blank page and the little cursor icon blinking at you like a clueless college student in the middle of a lecture about the positives and negatives of Pythagoras’s Theorem? I know I have. In fact, I have been doing that for the past few minutes. As a student, many questions flow through your mind. “Did I do well on that test?” “Will we have a quiz tomorrow?” and “What if I don’t find a boyfriend/girlfriend by spring?” However, none of these questions can hold a candle to the infamous “What will I write about?”

It’s a question that plagues us all: old and young, small and big, Hobbit and Ork. I know that when I receive the task to write, I freeze up the minute I sit down. What do I write about? Blink. Blink. Blink. 913[1]Fear no more, random reader, for I, Alfred of the Writing Center, am here to share some ingenious ways to find your inspiration (in no particular order).

  1. Bounce Ideas Off of Someone

Leading up to the conception of this blog post, my fearless partner in writing, Caitlin, helped me by letting me bounce some ideas off of her. She too, would throw ideas out. Some of the ideas I came up with were, well, magnificent to say the least. These ideas were things like “the downfall of an empire” or “Story Time with Alfred.” Needless to say, I dream big. Caitlin also had some pretty good ideas, some of which turned out to be the basis for this blog. Why does this work? First, it gets the creative juices flowing. It allows you to voice and hear other ideas. You may find yourself using some of these ideas, or being inspired by some of them, as I was. Second, it also helps to have someone to walk with you through the process. This is kind of what the Writing Center does. We help students walk through the process of their writing. Some will come in with ideas they want to write about. We are there for them to bounce their ideas off of and sometimes, they end up figuring things out without any advice simply because they voiced their ideas.

  1. Take a Break Before You Begin

I will always recommend getting away from the project if you’re stuck. You’re getting nothing done sitting in front of the computer, staring at the infinite whiteness. Instead, take your mind off it. Go outside, take a shower, or listen to music. (Keep in mind, though, you do have to go back to the project. Don’t procrastinate!) I typically do my best thinking when I’m not actively thinking about the task at hand. I find the ideas just kind of pop into my head whilst I do other things. I’ve thought of sermon ideas while playing video games and paper ideas while I am out with friends at dinner. In this specific case, I decided to listen to music for a bit. I thought about how different types of music tend to differ from each other and how each person is inspired in different ways from each kind. That was one of the driving forces behind this post. Sometimes, good ideas come about in the weirdest ways.

  1. Read to Write

A good writer is a well-read writer. This goes for both academic and nonacademic writing. With academic writing, there is typically a source that needs to be used. That source can be a novel, short story, poem, journal article, you name it. You need these sources to base some of the paper on. With nonacademic writing, the best thing you can do is read read read. Reading tends to stimulate the imagination and, when a book is well-written, you can visualize the book in your head. You see, hear, and can even touch what is happening. Regardless, if you are not currently reading a book, I would recommend you go get one. By looking at other writing styles, you can even develop your own. However, this does not mean to blatantly copy them. That is called plagiarism and is very illegal. Like, super illegal.

On my planet, it's a coat of arms. It stands for copyright infringement,.

On my planet, it’s a symbol. It stands for copyright infringement.

  1. Just Start Writing

Write down ideas as they come into your head. Write out whatever you can think of until your tank is empty. Afterwards, look at your writing, go through it, and pick out the good stuff. This will also help you reign in your ideas as you can edit out anything that does not really add to the general quality of your writing.

Figuring out what to write can be a daunting task. However, if you find things that help you come up with ideas, use them. Use all the tools at your disposal to come up with ideas. Your mind is full of limitless potential. You can write a novel, a thesis, or even a movie review. All you need is the right inspiration.

Written by Alfred