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Tips from the Tutors

Have you ever wondered how Writing Center peer tutors approach their own writing? Here are some writing tips from veteran tutors Chris, Jocelyn, and Emily.

Chris

I view writing as a process that will take time and involve multiple drafts. This is true for even the best writers, and such a mindset will help you get started early, provide you with sufficient time, and most importantly, result in better quality writing.

  • Prepare an outline before you begin writing. It will help keep your writing focused and help with the organization of your paper. Additionally, it helps to make the writing process easier and less intimidating.
  • Always have reference materials (grammar and punctuation guides, APA/MLA manuals) available when you are writing, if possible. You may intend to consult them later, but it can be easy to forget to do so, especially after spending significant time writing a paper. We have writing guides and the APA and MLA manuals in the Writing Center for your use.
  • Always read your paper aloud to yourself and/or to another person. Actually hearing, as opposed to simply reading, what you have written is extremely helpful. You will identify a lot of your errors that way.
  • Be sure not to overemphasize grammar and punctuation over content and vice versa. Perfect grammar and punctuation doesn’t really help if you have weak and/or inaccurate content, and a paper full of grammatical and punctuation errors distracts from solid content.

Jocelyn

  • If you’re struggling to format a particular piece of writing, the best thing to do is to look up samples of that kind of writing. For example, if you need to know how to write a literature review, then the first thing to do is to look at other peoples’ literature reviews. There are lots of great writing websites, like the Perdue OWL, if you’re looking for samples.
  • Just start. If the idea of writing the paper makes you feel like throwing up, then take a deep breath and just start writing. It won’t be as terrible as you think once you start.
  • If you need a break, take it. Taking breaks can help you look at your paper with new eyes and ideas when you go back to working on it.
  • A key to editing at home is to read out loud, and slowly, to someone else or yourself. This will help prevent you from skipping over misspelled, missing, or double words.
  • After you work on editing a section, reread it out loud, slowly. Often times, we make typos as we delete and add words or sentences. Therefore, it is important to reread a section after you have finished making changes to it.
  • Remember that sometimes you just have to stop and let yourself turn it in. Writing is a process, and many writers feel like there is more that could be done before they submit or share their work. Sometimes you have to allow yourself to let it go.

Emily

  • If you got A’s on all your papers in high school and you’re finding that’s not the case in college, realize that you’re not a bad writer. You may not have adapted yet to the kind of thinking and writing that college requires, but that’s the whole point of education—to learn. And remember: the Writing Center is for every writer, no matter where you are in your writing education. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Don’t write papers the night before they’re due. Yes, procrastination is every college student’s best friend (even for this writing tutor…). However, rushed writing is usually easy to spot, and it can take more time and be more stressful to write a paper in one sitting than to break it up into chunks.
  • Writing isn’t math—there are no “right” and “wrong” ways of writing. Stop worrying about whether you’re doing something “right” and ask yourself whether your writing is:
    • a good demonstration of your thinking and creativity
    • clear and easy to read, and most importantly...
    • meaningful to you and others.

    Good writing starts and ultimately ends with these things. The rest is icing on the cake.

  • Writing Center
  • Eicher Hall, Room 218
    860 Grant Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-3029
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  • 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
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