Beat back writer’s block at the Writing Center

Beat back writer’s block at the Writing Center
Photo by Scott Lindell
Scott Lindell

Scott Lindell

Scott Lindell is the Associate Editor of the Metropolitan Student Newspaper.

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Metro State stu­dents have reams of writ­ing assign­ments every semes­ter. And the check­list for a qual­ity paper is daunt­ing: cor­rect punc­tu­a­tion, proper gram­mar, flaw­less cita­tions and clear writ­ing. Luck­ily, there’s help to be had on campus.

The beauty of writ­ing tutor­ing is help­ing stu­dents break down a com­plex process into man­age­able chunks,” said Jules Thomp­son, Direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Aca­d­e­mic Excel­lence at Metro State.

Tutors at the Writ­ing Cen­ter at the Cen­ter for Aca­d­e­mic Excel­lence can help stu­dents develop writ­ing skills for col­lege and beyond. “In many pro­fes­sions, a person’s writ­ing abil­i­ties can make or break their career,” Thomp­son said. “Stu­dents are highly aware of that and they are also highly aware of how writ­ing is impor­tant for their classes.”

Right to pre-​write

A typ­i­cal writ­ing tuto­r­ial begins with the pre-​writing phase. Tutors encour­age stu­dents to read their writ­ing assign­ments care­fully. Stu­dents look for verbs and tasks they need to com­plete. Tutors ques­tion stu­dents to make sure they under­stand the instruc­tions. Once stu­dents are aware of the objec­tives, they learn how to cre­ate a plan for their writ­ing project.

To pre­pare stu­dents for the research phase of writ­ing, tutors help stu­dents improve their read­ing com­pre­hen­sion and crit­i­cal think­ing skills. They can instruct on effec­tive note-​taking too. These steps can ensure stronger con­tent and insights in stu­dent papers. “Clear writ­ing is an indi­ca­tion of clear think­ing,” said Thompson.

Wise to revise

As stu­dents make progress on a writ­ing assign­ment, they can sched­ule follow-​up tutor­ing appointments.

Part of the Center’s work is help­ing stu­dents under­stand that writ­ing is not a ‘one and done,’” Thomp­son said. “Writ­ing is an ongo­ing process. Turn­ing in the first draft is not going to con­vey what the writer needs it to con­vey; it’s not going to meet pro­fes­sors’ expec­ta­tions unless you are a superb writer.”

As tutor­ing ses­sions are lim­ited to 50 min­utes, stu­dents are asked to choose one or two things they would like to focus on.

Most of our clients are con­cerned about sentence-​level issues, such as punc­tu­a­tion, gram­mar, cita­tions,” Thomp­son said. “We want to pro­vide feed­back on those things, but we don’t want a sentence-​level focus to exclude ‘big pic­ture’ issues that also affect the qual­ity of the paper, like organization.”

Unit­ing for writ­ing

The Writ­ing Cen­ter wel­comes stu­dents from any class or major. They can help stu­dents with any writ­ing project, includ­ing resumes and grad­u­ate school entrance essays. Over 3,500 writ­ing tuto­ri­als were con­ducted in the last aca­d­e­mic year.

Tutors seek to estab­lish a rela­tion­ship with each and every stu­dent to give them a pos­i­tive, empow­er­ing tutor­ing session.

Tutor­ing cen­ters are places where stu­dents can come and our goal is to make them feel safe and com­fort­able in tak­ing risks and mak­ing mis­takes and learn­ing from those mis­takes,” said Thomp­son. “What we’re try­ing to do is to help stu­dents build upon the writ­ing skills they already have and also help them build new skills.”

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