University Writing Center Blog

Posted on January 9th, 2017 in Tutoring, Writing Center Work by Jennifer Mahoney

by Sydney Fleck, Peer Consultant, University Writing Center

The first time I came to the Writing Center felt like my first time going to Starbucks.
Starbucks (now my second home mid-semester with its free coffee refills and awkward music as a background to my studying) was a place I’d heard about a lot but really didn’t understand.

I wasn’t really a “coffee person” and I didn’t know what “tall,” “grande,” and “venti” were. My first few visits were weird and I probably would have stopped going if a kind barista hadn’t taken time to talk to me; she explained different coffees to me, asked me what kind of flavors I like, and how much caffeine I wanted. After a little bit of conversation, she suggested some drinks I might like and I was able to order.

Since that conversation, I’ve learned to talk to all my baristas. I ask them about coffee types, new flavors, and their favorites and recommendations. I’ve been able to try new drinks and am now a proud “coffee person.”

If you’ve been to the Center before, you know that talking is what we do. We talk about writing.

In fact, talking is already a part of many people’s writing processes, they just might not recognize it. In my own writing process, I often feel like I can’t start the task of putting words on to paper (or computer) until I’ve talked to someone else about my ideas. I’ll talk to my coworkers in between consultations, or my fiancé in the car on our way to dinner, or my friend in California on Skype… I talk about my ideas a lot before I start putting them down.

And so, Writer, let me encourage you to talk to us. You cannot talk too much about your writing. Tell us about your frustrations with your paper – or the semester. Tell us about the class you’re writing for and how it fits in to your degree. Talk to us about the assignment itself and what you do or don’t like about it.

And, hopefully, like those baristas at Starbucks concerned with coffee preferences and the kind of week you’ve had, we can work with your writing in a way that is more suited to you – your style and your strengths.