An Introduction to the Writing Center

Writing centers across the nation are located, usually, in multiple locations throughout any town/city that has an academic center.  Western Illinois Univeristy, for example, has 3-7 depending on the semester.

The first issue that anyone working in a writing center wants to address are the myths or already formulated stories about what the WC does and the services the WC provides.  For example, is the writing center an editing service, well no, but editing does happen naturally in the process of reviewing the work.

So what does the writing center do if editing, or doing the assignment for the student/whomever?  Great question because of the Breadth and Depth involved.  The WC will assist with 1) Brainstorming, 2) Drafting, 3) Research and Research Methods, 4) Finding Purpose in Writing/Work, 5) Organization, 6) Coherence, 7) Development, 8) Documentation, and 9) Grammar.

But the specialization does not stop there.  At academic institutions, for example, WC’s intern and train students from a variety of fields of study, so a student can work with someone who is familiar with their discourse community.  But WC’s also specialize in genres of writing: cover letters, resumes, Graduate Degree Applications, Portfolio said, etc.

So, with information on the specific services distributed, what does a writing center do, universally, anywhere I go.  The mission statement of WC’s is free, one-on-one, collaborative consultation for any writing assignment at any academic level at any stage in the writing process.

What is someone to expect when going to a Writing Center?  First and foremost courtesy, you are not only talking to fellow students and peers, but we are all humans and deserve a certain level of universal respect.  Second, a timely session if you walk-in, otherwise appointments are always encouraged; all sessions are 50 minutes.  Computers are available in some WC’s, as well as printers, but a hard-copy of the writing already in hand is greatly appreciated and desired.

Just to let the reader know, there are some taboos in a WC session.  1) Participation is key.  You would think that people would be more involved in the writing processed of their own work, but more and more the research dictates that if people can float by JAnd have someone else do things for them they will sit there and be quiet and just let it happen.  Well, in the mission statement it says collaborative, and participation is key to the writing process at a WC. 2) Editing, strictly speaking, does not occur at WC’s.  3)Technology is welcomed but not wanted.  A hard paper copy is most welcomed, you can see better than a screen and mark it up as necessary.  Yes computers hold some very significant advantages, but until you have to teach the writing process, there is also an argument that you don’t understand what your talking about.  🙂

In conclusion, writing centers are great for those trying to find organization in their writing, to bounce ideas off with someone also studying the same thing you are, and to find resources for the always present and forevermore research that accompnies academic circles nationwide.


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