By Annie Park - March 24, 2021
My first Writing Centre appointment started with laughter. Dr. Stephanie Bell, the writing expert for my meeting, greeted me from her home office, the sounds of laughing children filtering in from her audio. My barking pet poodle ensured there was noise on my end as well.
The sounds were quiet enough to be ignored, though—just a small hum of background noise, if anything. I found them comforting; they matched the meeting's relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Amidst the sounds, Dr. Bell asked a friendly question:
"How would you like this meeting to go?"
Students take the helm in Writing Centre appointments. They set the agenda, choose the discussion topics, and make the final decisions. The writing expert becomes whatever the student needs or wants: a person to bounce ideas off or answer questions, or simply another set of eyes.
While each meeting is unique, most follow a basic structure. First, the student describes their assignment and desired agenda. Then, the expert takes their cue and initiates the session.
To answer Dr. Bell's question, I briefly explained my assignment: a descriptive news article for my periodical publishing class. Line by line, we combed through my rough draft.
Dr. Bell concentrated on long-term improvement over short-term grammatical corrections. During my 50-minute session, we went over valuable writing strategies and skills.
She taught me concision, showing me how to remove unnecessary filler words, phrases, and sentences. I also learned to use adjectives sparingly, employing more verbs to make my writing active. Most importantly, I gained insight on properly and smoothly introducing characters in periodical writing. Dr. Bell wasn't just interested in improving my paper; she wanted me, as a writer, to improve as well.
"Edit a student's paper, and they eat for a day; teach a student how to edit, and they're never hungry…or something like that," says Dr. Bell.
These writing experts want to be there, with students, and that's evident in the way they treat you. Boasting various academic backgrounds, experts can assist with all kinds of academic writing: essays, news articles, graduate school applications, and so on.
By the end of my session, Dr. Bell and I developed my rough draft into a piece I was exceedingly proud of. But more important than the assignment was the comfort of speaking with someone qualified to provide guidance and who genuinely cared for my words.
So, should you schedule a one-to-one appointment?
This blog post is me—a fellow student—telling you yes. It doesn't matter what your grades are, what major you're in, or what process your writing is at. I guarantee you'll come out of the meeting with improved writing and more self-confidence.
Check out our blog post "How to Make the Most of Your One-to-One Writing Appointment" for more information on how to book and prepare yourself for a Writing Centre meeting.