BUWC March Madness: Let us help you get in the game.

When I asked the Bellarmine writing consultants what they thought we should do witbulletin boardh our hallway bulletin board, I had a St. Patrick’s Day theme in mind.

I should have known that it isn’t good to ask an open-ended question with a scripted answer in your mind (bad, professor). The consultants had another, and better, idea: March Madness in the Writing Center.

So, they’re having a competition for which consultant can get the most appointments. We’ll keep track on the bulletin board, and update our social media as appropriate.

march madness
What can you do? Vote with your feet… er… your writing! Visit your favorite writing consultants in March! The winner will get her snack of choice at our next staff meeting. The easiest way to make your appointment is via our online apportionment scheduler.

Writing Center Observation

Alexis Higgs

ENG 251

4 February 2015

Writing Center Observation Blog

            Arriving more than a few minutes early to the appointment I planned to observe, I noticed how great The Fishbowl is for Writing Center Appointments. There is an open feel, inviting colors, and a comfortable, dedicated area to work. The consultant walked in with the student for their appointment about five minutes before it was scheduled to begin. The consultant and the student both welcomed me appreciatively when I asked to observe the session. She had worked with this writer many times, so they were already familiar with each other’s names and made friendly small talk for a few minutes before they began to look at what the writer brought to the session.

As the session began, the consultant asked the writer what it was that he had brought with him and he took out what he described as a “very rough draft” of a short essay. The paper was for an introductory psychology class; the main point of the assignment was to write down what you planned on writing a longer research paper about and why you chose the topic. If I were to ask any additional questions, one may have been to ask how formal this assignment was and how much support he needed to have for why he chose the topic. This was the perfect appointment to observe, because it may show a writer who is apprehensive about using The Writing Center that the consultants are there to help at any point during the writing process.

As the consultant spoke with the writer about the piece, it was on a table between the two of them, facing the writer as he spoke about what he had written. The consultant had good non-verbal communication skills, looked at the writer when he spoke, and restated/summed up some of what the writer said to assure him she was understanding. I would definitely consider her an active listener! The consultant let the writer do most of the talking and explaining at the beginning, so to establish a genuine interest in his piece and to respect the work he had already put into the assignment. As a writer in an appointment, I would appreciate the active listening and take advantage of a person willing to listen to me talk about my writing!

The consultant proceeded to set an agenda with the writer for the session. She asked the writer what it is that he wanted to get out of the session for this specific piece of writing. He voiced his concerns with certain reoccurring grammatical errors and making sure his paper “flowed.” The consultant had the writer read his paper aloud, and she quickly stated how he did a great job fixing what they “talked about last time!” She established rapport by asking him if he felt a strong connection to this topic and why. He had a personal connection to the topic, so he felt compelled to talk about it more, leading him to consider his own revisions. The consultant made the appointment both friendly and collaborative; she helped him realize he knew a lot more about his own writing than he thought.

I would say for this specific session, the consultant filled the role of a listening peer. She listened to his concerns and helped him come up with more information on his own that would contribute to the flow of his writing piece. The consultant then asked if there were any specific parts of the paper where he wanted to go over grammatical errors they had previously discussed. The consultant then recommended a resource that could help further explain how and why to use prepositional phrases, which I thought was great! The Writing Center may be able to offer insight to resources you may not have previously considered.

Finally, the consultant asked the writer how he felt about the piece now, and he felt positive about it. She praised the corrections he made on his own before coming to the session and told him how excited she was to see him write about something he is passionate about. The writer stated that he would “probably be back with another assignment within the next week or so.” I thought it was a great session to observe, it gave me a better understanding of what The Writing Center has to offer that I would enjoy sharing with others!

Be Bold

The Writing Center staff owning it.
The Writing Center staff owning our silly side.

Confidence. It seems like confidence is a hot commodity these days — one of the constant pieces of advice I seem to receive from adults about the “real world” is that I need to own it. I need to believe in myself and hold myself with pride, knowing that I am capable. I am successful. I am the right person for the job!

It’s easier said than done.

Lately, though, confidence has come up quite a bit in my life. I never thought it would be a concept that could translate into my writing, but I recently got some feedback on my essay that made me realize just how important confidence is. The essay overall had valid points, but my professor made notes whenever I used phrases like “somewhat” or “might be” or anything that did not make a straightforward claim. He asked me why I used hedging statements; in other words, he wondered why I wasn’t owning up to my observations about the text. This was the first time I ever had someone point this out to me, but I quickly realized that this kind of writing was a habit of mine. For some reason, I was always afraid to strongly state what I meant, choosing to hide behind the “somewhats” and “might bes” in order to avoid being wrong.

Once I became aware of this habit, I took steps to change it. The next time I had a writing assignment, I let my argument speak for itself instead of excusing it with apologetic language. Honestly, it was pretty liberating. In fact, it helped me write a stronger paper, because I was no longer concerned with whether my claims were correct or not. I chose a stance, and I stuck with it until the end. This forced me to make sure that my argument was airtight, that I had sufficient evidence to back up what I was saying. Before this, I considered myself a skillful writer, but it was only after I stopped being afraid that I was able to truly believe in what I had to say.

Like I said before, confidence is an attractive trait. It draws people in, and if it shines through in your writing, it can take your reader along for the journey in a much more efficient way. Your thesis statements will be more powerful, and your supporting arguments will be much richer. All it takes is a little self-assurance, and you’re already halfway there.

So here is my challenge to you: Be bold! Take a stance with your writing. Even if you completely miss the mark, it’s better to commit to a mistake than to have one foot in and one foot out of your argument. Those who read your writing will find it much more interesting if your statements are clear and candid. Don’t be afraid to be wrong; as long as as you present it with confidence, you may will be able to convince your reader that you were right all along.