Another Letter to the Unsure Writer

Dear Unsure Writer,

Whether you’re experiencing hesitations because you feel inadequate in your skills, or you just don’t know where to start and how to proceed, you’ve come to the write (haha, pun) place. We all have times in our lives when we feel unsure of ourselves for one reason or another. However, you can’t let that stop you. Finding ways to overcome your inhibitions, while also building your skill set, is the key to gaining self-confidence.

First of all, the best way to escape the rut of insecurity is to dive in head first. When it comes to writing, sometimes you have to start by pouring words out onto the page. I often find that my best work comes when I force myself to stop thinking and just feel it instead. Then, I will go back and worry about the editing when I finish. Using this method really helps when the insecurity has become paralyzing and even getting started seems like an insurmountable task.

Now, on to the matter of developing your skills as a writer. If you feel uncertain because you think you aren’t a good writer or don’t have enough experience, then I have some reassuring news for you; you have more practice than you think, and you can always gain more. Even if you have never written a paper in your life, you still use writing skills often. Everything from emails to journaling counts as writing. All you have to do is learn how to apply what you already know to more formal types of writing. One of the best ways to do that is to read. Seek out those who have come before you and study their writing; find out what they did well and even what they didn’t. Read across every genre, style, and subject matter. Then, you can take the information you gather and apply it to your own work and put your personal spin on it. It may take a while to gain confidence and find your voice, but the more reading and writing you do, the faster you will improve.

Another way to build your confidence and skill is to find someone to help review your work and offer suggestions. If you are writing an academic paper, I would suggest visiting the University Writing Center. Having someone who is familiar with the requirements of formal writing explain things to you will be a big help in gaining confidence. If you are looking to write more creatively, try finding other writers who would be willing to form a writer’s group with you, anything from online forums to a friend or two who also love to write would suffice. Sharing ideas and suggestions and growing with other writers is an invaluable experience.

So, when you find yourself stuck and overwhelmed by uncertainty, grab your computer, or a pen and paper, and just write. Let all of your thoughts flow out onto the page; they can be organized later. Don’t be afraid to seek help with the revision process. Then, begin working on your skills. Talk to fellow students or writers. Read anything and everything. Before you know it, and probably without even realizing it, you will be a better writer.

Written by Taylor

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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: http://www3.dbu.edu/uwc/flyers.asp) and outside the UWC office.

Written by Jenna