Preparing for a Session


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What kinds of questions or papers can I bring to the Workshop? What should I bring with me?

Our writing consultants are available for collaborative conversations on any number of topics. For example, they can help you:

    • overcome writer's block, choose a topic, or understand a writing assignment
    • focus a thesis statement, develop a writing plan, or review a rough draft
    • identify strategies to organize, clarify, and concisely state your ideas
    • interpret evaluation criteria, comments from instructors, or feedback from peer reviewers
    • avoid plagiarism and correctly use APA, MLA, or other citation styles
    • recognize error patterns in punctuation and grammar and develop strategies to fix them on your own
    • work on a variety of projects, including lab reports, personal statements, resumes, application materials, grant proposals, theses and Plan B projects, research papers, and more

We’re here to listen and have a conversation that will help you meet your writing goals.  The writing is always yours; we just provide a comfortable atmosphere to talk and learn about it.

To ensure you get the most out of your session, bring as much information as possible:

    • your assignment sheet or any other instructions you received
    • a printed copy of your paper so you can write on it and, later, see the potential revisions you discussed with the consultant
    • a paper graded by your instructor or drafts on which you received comments from others so the consultant gets a sense of the types of improvements you seek to make
    • the grading criteria or rubric

What will happen during a session with a consultant?

When you arrive, you will check in at our reception desk located by the quotation wall in the back right corner of the Learning Commons (second floor of the Martin Library). The person at the front desk will introduce you to your consultant, or you will simply find the consultant you will be working with by looking for the person’s name, which will be displayed on the tables in the Writers’ Workshop.

The session will begin with the consultant asking questions about what you are working on. It’s important for the consultant to know the purpose of the piece of writing, the audience, and the directions you've been given, if any (e.g., length, format, etc.). If you have an assignment sheet or other materials, you will go over that information with the consultant.

Next you will work with the consultant to establish an agenda for your session. Through discussion about the piece of writing you’re currently working on, together you will decide what area(s) need attention. We tailor each session to your goals and needs, but consultants will typically address issues such as content, organization, argument, clarity, and structure before addressing issues such as style, grammar, punctuation, and documentation. Consultants work on all of these issues, but it only makes sense to work on the “big picture” before dealing with the details. You don’t want to spend a session working on punctuating a paragraph that you ultimately decide to delete from your final draft.

Often consultants will ask you to read your paper aloud or they will read it to you so both of you “hear” the paper. During the process, either you or the consultant may stop to discuss points, or you may jot down notes as reminders of areas that need attention. You should be prepared to be the one writing on your printed copy. The consultants avoid doing so because, after all, it is your piece of writing.

The consultants are friendly, experienced, and well trained. Their goal is to work together with you to discover strategies that will help you produce the best piece of writing you are capable of producing. Each session is unique because it is based on you and your needs.

After your session, the consultant will send you a summary report via email to remind you of what the two of you worked on and any writing strategies you discussed. After the session, you’ll want time to revise your piece of writing. That’s why it’s important to see a consultant well in advance of the project's due date.

Your session is confidential; no one but the consultants and you, the writer, has access to these reports.

What should I do to prepare for my appointment?

The Writers' Workshop is here to help support you and your writing needs. However, there are a few things that you can do to help make your time with us more effective. 

    • Bring the assignment sheet, guidelines, or instructions for your project.
    • Bring a printed paper copy of your piece of writing to your session.
    • For longer writing pieces, consider working on a particular section or smaller part of the paper.
    • If you have specific questions or concerns, jot them down before your appointment.
    • Review your draft beforehand; find the mistakes or errors that you already know so we can help you improve beyond that.

While we are happy to help you learn strategies for finding punctuation and grammar errors in your work, the Workshop consultants do not spend entire sessions proofreading papers nor do they edit papers left at the Workshop to be picked up at a later time.  Sessions are designed to be collaborative and interactive, inviting participation from both the writer and the consultant.