You might be surprised to hear that the most common sentence I hear from students when working with them as a writing consultant is “I’m sorry.” Some students have apologized over 20 times in an appointment. I didn’t even get that many sorrys when my sister broke my Super Nintendo.
Other common statements: my writing is terrible, uhh…this is so bad, I know this is wrong, I’m not a writer.
I hate to break it to you, but we’re all writers. And none of us are bad (unless you’re reading this blog post out there, Darth Vader).
My name is Adam Binkley, and I am the senior coordinator at the Center for Academic Success. In addition to leading workshops and coordinating academic support programs, one of my primary responsibilities is working with students on their writing. Believe it or not, though, I didn’t always consider myself a good writer.
When I was an undergraduate, the same professor that ended up being my mentor and greatest ally, once told me to literally (and I do mean literally) throw away a paper I had written and gave me my first shiny, red “F”.
It turns out, I didn’t have enough experience with or understanding of academic writing. I had to learn what was expected of me and, more importantly, that criticism of my work and less than stellar grades weren’t meant as put downs, but as a guidance.
So where does this negativity come from? For many students, it’s coping with a new environment of writing with bigger and scarier expectations. For others, it could be about a bad past experience, like mine.
Maybe you’re a student who is coming back to school after a few years out and don’t remember how to even begin to write a paper. Maybe you’re a student who learned English as a second, third, fourth language and the benefits of multilingualism feel less immediate than the challenges of English grammar, where rules are made to be broken.
It’s easy to let these challenges cloud our views of ourselves as writers.
That’s why I love this part of my job, I can help clear those gray skies up by empowering students to find confidence in their writing. That is a vital part of our mission at the Center for Academic Success.
We have one-on-one support for students through writing consultations. We also have awesome programs like Writing Fellows and the Multilingual Writing Mentors—where your peers can act as sounding boards to better your work. We even have a new peer writing consultant working in the Priddy Library. His name is Joey, he’s there from 1-4pm every day, and he gives awesome feedback. Stop by and see him.
So the next time you’re staring at that blank Word document with the clock ticking towards assignment due o’clock with feelings of self-doubt starting to creep up, maybe even feeling like your writing is ba…
You’re a writer. You’re good. And you’ve got this.