13 Ways to Use a Writing Center Tutor

Most times when students come to the Writing Center, they sit down with a paper and a tutor asks them what they would like to discuss; however, sometimes it is helpful to interact with a tutor in other ways. Below are some of the additional ways in which you can make use of a Writing Center tutor, divided by based on when in the writing process you're visiting.

Before You Have a Draft

1. Pacing Yourself -- Always waiting until the last minute to write your paper?  It may help to come up with a game plan ahead of time.  A tutor can help guide you through the process.  

2. Getting Mentored -- Ask questions about terminology, mechanics, writing conventions, or anything else.  A tutor will work with you to find the answers.

3. Having a Sounding Board -- Ever just need someone to bounce ideas off of?  Then this is for you!  No draft required.

4. Having a Devil's Advocate -- Ask a tutor to question all your ideas and assumptions.  This will give you a chance to see if those ideas make sense before you put them into writing.

5. The Silent Dialogue -- Have a writing conference...in complete silence!  Write down your conversation with your tutor and you will be forced to state your ideas clearly and concisely.  When you finish, you will have a complete transcript of your thought process.

With a Draft in Hand

6. Specifying Feedback -- Ask specific questions about the parts of your paper that you would like to focus on.  For example, don't ask: "What do you think about my paper?"  Ask instead: "What do you hear me saying?" or "Have I hooked you?"               

7. Hearing Your Words on Another's Lips -- It may be helpful to have a tutor read your paper out loud to see if it sounds the way you intend.  This helps you see if you're being clear and getting your point across.

8. Getting a Running Report -- Ask your tutor to read your paper out loud while giving a running commentary about what he or she is thinking, might be expecting, or is confused about.

Once Your Draft is Returned 

9. Conducting a Post Mortem -- Confused by the comments on that recently returned assignment?  Bring in a paper after it's been written, submitted, and graded to help you recognize patterns of strengths and weaknesses in all your writing.

Writing Personal Trainer

10. Making a Writing "Date" -- Need some company while you write?  A tutor will be your "date" -- doing work along side you and being available when you have questions or need help.  Warning: tutoring is unlikely to result in a romantic relationship.

11. Grammar Self-Assessment -- Don't know when to use a semicolon?  You're not the only one!  Save yourself from grammatical blunders by participating in a grammar self-assessment to help you learn your own strengths and weaknesses, all while sharpening your own skills.

12. Stimulus Exchanges -- Step out of your writing comfort zone and write based on different stimuli -- poems, quotes, or images.  Practice makes perfect, and writing to work on recurring issues can help you prepare for your next assignment.

13. Playing Writing Games -- Playing writing games can be a low-pressure way to exercise your linguistic muscle and develop skills that will help you in all your other writing.

  • Word Salad (for a larger repertoire of syntactical structures)
  • Half-Baked (for the same, plus more effective word choice)
  • Ben Franklin's Exercise (for all of the above, plus greater flow of thought and paragraph coherence) 

*Each use is explained in full in the marked binder at the Writing Center.