UofL Writing Center

Who We Are and What We Do

We’ve Made it Easier to Schedule Writing Center Appointments Online

One important change that took place over the summer at the University Writing Center was our transition to a new, online scheduling system. We are now using WCOnline as a scheduling system because it will make scheduling appointments much easier for UofL students, faculty, and staff who want a Writing Center consultation. What’s more, the new system will enhance our ability to communicate with students about what took place during their consultations. After an appointment the consultant will write a summary of the discussion that took place that will be available to the student at any point during the rest of the semester. WCOnline also sends out our exit survey to students after each appointment. Finally, WCOnline allows us to conduct our Virtual Writing Center appointments through the scheduling system, which will particularly enhance our abilities to do live, online chat appointments with distance education and other students.

Scheduling an Appointment

The new system allows you to access our entire semester schedule and then chose the appointment time and consultant that is most convenient. You can schedule up to three appointments a week, work with the same consultant if you like each week, and cancel your own appointments if you can’t make that day or time. You can link to the new system through the “Appointments” page on our website or by following this link. One at the WConline page you use your UofL user name and password to log in. The first time you log in you’ll fill out a brief information page, and then be able to make your appointment.

If you want to make an appointment at our Health Sciences Campus office, you’ll find a drop-down menu that you can use to access that schedule. If either schedule is full for the day, you can click on clock icon next to the day and date on the schedule to add your name to the Waiting List. The Waiting List notifies you by email or text if an appointment has become available. You would then need to go online or call the Writing Center to book the appointment. Of course, we are also still happy to make appointments with people who walk in, or who call us at 852-2173. To find out more about the system, you can also watch the video above about how to schedule an appointment.

Virtual Writing Center Appointments

In addition to making appointments for face-to-face consultations on the Belknap and Health Sciences Campuses, you can also use WCOnline to make appointments with our Virtual Writing Center. The best way to get help with your writing is, if possible, to make a face-to-face appointment in the University Writing Center on the third floor of Ekstrom Library. If, however, you are a Distance Education student, or otherwise unable to attend a face-to-face writing consultation, the Virtual Writing Center allows you to receive feedback. Through the Virtual Writing Center you can choose, when making your appointment, whether to have a live chat consultation.  or to receive a written response.

There are two Virtual Writing Centers, and you can choose the one that’s right for you when you make an appointment. If you are a Distance Education student, use the drop-down menu to find the Distance Education Schedule and, if you are taking a course on campus, but need to make a Virtual Writing Center appointment, choose a consultant with the words “Online or eTutoring” under the consultant’s name. We encourage people to use the live, online chat option if possible to be able to have a conversation with their consultant about the writing project. If you submit a draft for an eTutoring written response, we try to respond to your draft within two business days after your scheduled appointment. You will receive an email telling you when we have uploaded your draft with our comments to your appointment time. During busy times of the semester it may take us longer to respond to your draft.

We also have the video on our Appointments and our Distance Education pages about how to use the Virtual Writing Center.

We are think this new system will allow us to serve students, faculty, and staff even more effectively in the coming year. If you have any problems with the system, please call us (852-2173) or email us (writing@lousville.edu). We hope you’ll check out our schedule and make your appointment today


Welcome to Fall 2014!

Bronwyn T. Williams, Director

The start of every academic year always involves new encounters. Students and faculty meet for the first time in classes, many students have new roommates, and many faculty have new colleagues. I think for everyone the anticipation – and uncertainty – is exciting and adds to the buzz around campus when the new semester begins. I always feel the excitement of the new semester when our pre-semester orientation at the University Writing Center takes place the Thursday before classes start. Writing Center Orientation is the

University Writing Center Staff - 2014-15

University Writing Center
Staff – 2014-15

day when I get to meet the new graduate students who will be working as consultants for the coming year. While I know about these new graduate students from what I’ve seen in their application files – where they went to school, for example – I don’t really know them at all. One of the things that is fun about the year ahead is getting to know these people, as people, as tutors, and as scholars. You can take a look at our website to find out about our staff for the coming academic year. It’s what I’ve yet to learn about the new consultants that will be part of what will make my year ahead interesting.

The new consultants all take a graduate course with me on Writing Center Theory and Practice and, through that I know that there are some foundational ideas about teaching writing that they will learn and use during their appointments with students. We talk about the need to work in dialogue with students and not edit their papers for them, for example, and the importance of not just helping students make their current drafts stronger, but also helping the students learn writing skills and strategies that will help with future writing challenges. Yet, while all the consultants are expected to adopt these foundational ideas, I also realize that everyone will develop an individual style as a tutor. Some consultants work quietly, others more effusively. Some consultants develop a talent for instructive metaphors, while others are masters of reaching and reassuring more reticent students. For me, seeing how these different approaches to tutoring develop is always fascinating and enjoyable. The one thing I do know, in meeting our new staff, is that all of the consultants are talented teachers who, grounded in theories of effective writing pedagogy, will provide thousands of UofL students, faculty, and staff with effective feedback and advice on their writing.

So, the University Writing Center is open for the semester. Make your appointment today and meet our great new staff in person.


Kicking Back in the Writing Center with New First-Year Students

Thursday night, as part of Welcome Week for new first-year students, the Library opened its doors for games, performances, art, and food for a night called “Kick Back in the Stacks.” At the University Writing Center we had a caricature DSCN2300artists, cookies, art projects about writing, and word-related games from “hangman” to “who am I” to “tag-team Scrabble.” As the photos on the page show,   we had a packed house – and definitely a good time.

We also had an open

blog post that a number of people contributed to during the night. We left the post open for people to memories about writing. Below is the question we asked along with some of

the memories people shared. It’s always fascinating to see what moments stick with people as encouraging, inspiring – or sometimes frustrating – their ambitions as writers.

Here is the question and some of the responses:

What’s a memory you have (positive or negative) about writing?

  • I remember when I was in my sophomore year in high school, and I took a creative writing class. I’d been writing stories for a few years, and I was really excited to take an actual class. The teacher was enthusiastic, but I didn’t understand what he meant when he kept telling me “Use more concrete language,”
    Tag-Team Scrabble

    Tag-Team Scrabble

    and I was too shy/embarrassed to ask what he meant. By the end of the class, I figured I must not be any good at creative writing and stopped writing stories. Fortunately, I went back to it several years (and now I know what he meant), but I wish that (a) I’d had the courage to ask him for clarification, and (b) he’d been more helpful with his feedback.

  • When I was a freshman in college, I took a course titled “Writing About Fiction.” Initially, the course had little to do with writing or fiction, and the teacher seemed relatively disinterested in the class. Around halfway through, however, the class was changed, and another professor was brought into the course. He introduced to us the idea of rhetoric and affective writing. I had never thought about writing as a way of creating social effects, and for the rest of my college career I became fascinated by the relationship between writing and the act of constructing and manipulating social realities.
  • I remember learning

    Waiting for the artist

    how to spell the word “STOP” when I was riding in the car with my parents. I told my kindergarten teacher about this new knowledge. Sometime later, when learning lower-case letters, my teacher wrote “stop” on the board and asked me what word this was. I was stumped. I didn’t recognize it because it wasn’t capitalized. When she told me it was the same word I learned before, I felt silly. But it was the beginning of understanding.

  • When I was sixteen, I tried doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with the goal of writing maybe ten thousand words on a story. I ended up surpassing the fifty thousand word goal and wrote a short novel (58,000 words) all within a month! To date, it remains the longest thing I’ve ever written. I have always dreamed of being a novelist, and that experience with NaNo proved to me that I have it in me to tell a long-form story and to draft it all out, even though I knew that I would never publish it. (Trust me, it’s really bad!)
  • The most positive memory I have about writing
    "What book/movie would you take to a desert island?"

    “What book/movie would you take to a desert island?”

    is from when I was five or Six. I woke up one morning and started staring at a metal statue of a church on my grandmother’s mantel. Suddenly a poem popped into my head, my grandmother typed it on her, now very antiquated, MacBook. It’s fourteen to fifteen years later and it’s one of my proudest accomplishments. In case you’re wondering, she still has it saved on that very same MacBook.

  • When I was in second grade I had to write a short story for class about your favorite character. I wrote about Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse on an adventure in a haunted house. The next year I had the same teacher because it was a two grade class, and my teacher chose the same assignment. Not thinking that she would remember, or even that I wrote it for her already, I wrote the same story in my journal. When she had read it she came up to me after class, and said that she thought she had heard the story before. I only realized it when I was older that I had given her the same story twice, but until then I just thought she had the same dream as me

We thank these writers for their contributions, and everyone who came to the Writing Center Thursday night (and all the Writing Center staff, present and past, who helped out.) It was a fun way to kick off the year and we hope to see everyone back during the semester so we can help them make their writing as strong as possible and create some positive memories of writing at UofL.

Summertime, and the Planning is Busy

Bronwyn T. Williams, Director

During the summer, the pace of things at the University Writing Center does slow, but doesn’t stop. We still see students working on summer courses, or those closing in on finishing their dissertations. We also spend much of the summer planning for the next academic year. One of the big changes we’ve been working this summer is fine-tuning our new, online scheduling system. This new system not only makes it easier for people to make appointments, but also is huge leap forward in making our Virtual Writing Center more effective and easier to use. I’ll be writing more about the scheduling system in the next few weeks, but if you want to see some videos about how to make an appointment or how to use the Virtual Writing Center if you’re a distance education student, you can watch some videos and read more about it on our Appointments page.

The beginning of August also means the beginning of orientations around UofL. We’re grateful to the schools and departments around UofL that invite us to their orientations to talk about the University Writing Center. Last week was the Kent School of Social work, today we’re off to the Health Sciences Campus, and next week we’ll be visiting the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies (SIGS) orientation and several others. One of our ongoing challenges at the Writing Center is making clear to the campus community who we are and what we do. Everywhere we go, we emphasize that we work with everyone in the UofL community, including all undergraduates, graduate students, and staff and faculty. What’s more, we work with people on any kind of writing – whether for academic work or projects outside of school – at any point in the writing process. If people are just getting started, we can help with ideas and organization, and if they have drafts we can help provide feedback and advice then as well. If it’s writing, and if the writer is part of the UofL community, we’re happy to work on it. For people wanting more details on how we work, we have new Frequently Asked Questions on our webpage or you can read our Mission Statement.

We’ve also been planning our Graduate Student Workshops on Writing Issues, in collaboration with SIGS. If you’re a graduate student and would like to hear more about issues such as how to organize a large writing project such as a dissertation, or how to read and respond to graduate-level scholarship, or how to approach getting published, you can find more information and register for the workshops by visiting the SIGS PLAN website.

Finally, like many other faculty, I’m in the midst of planning my fall courses. This is the time of year we try to remind faculty that we are available to come to their classrooms this fall semester for brief 5-to-10-minute presentations about the University Writing Center. We find that, having one of our consultants come to your class, talk about the Writing Center and answer questions, is one of the best ways we have of reaching out to students at every level and in every discipline. If you want to schedule a classroom presentation, just follow this link. If you want to learn more about how we work with your students in the Writing Center, you can find answers to those questions on our website as well.

Stay tuned for more news about our plans for the coming year. And, enjoy those last warm days of August.





We’re Always Learning About Writing: The Importance of the University Writing Center as a Site of Research

Bronwyn T. Williams, Director

The obvious work of the University Writing Center takes place during the writing consultations. If you walk in and see the room filled with people in conversation about writing project, it might be easy to think about the individual teaching as all that happens here. Yet another important aspect of our work in the Writing Center is not immediately visible during consultations, but is vital to helping us engage in effective teaching with the writers with whom we work. In addition to being a place where people can get support for their writing projects, the University Writing Center is an active research site into the theory and practice of Writing Center work. DSCN1706By learning more about writing and how writers learn, we improve our work and contribute to the scholarly conversations in the the field of Writing Studies. For example, many of the graduate students who work as consultants in the Writing Center also engage in research on everything from how international students work in online consultations, to how to teach ideas about genre in writing, to how Writing Centers work in community colleges. Such research can form the core of a graduate students’ dissertation or MA project, or result in publication in the scholarly journals and books in our field. You can find a list of some of the research projects that have emerged from the Writing Center on our webpage.

Engaging in research is vital to the work we do in the Writing Center. Writing doesn’t stand still. By that I mean that writing is a complex social endeavor that we are constantly having to study to understand. It’s widely accepted in our field that writing is more than just making or deciphering marks on a page. The way we write, the way we learn to write, and what we write are all shaped by the social world that surrounds us. Everything from technology to language to changes in the culture around us influence how reading and writing happens. For example, the rapid changes in digital technology have changed the writing and reading practices of everyone in the University (as is obvious if you’re reading this blog). If you ask twenty people at the University how changes in technology have influenced student writing, you might get twenty different answers, some of which might be accurate and others wildly wrong. Our research, like all research at the University, is intended to help us move beyond our initial opinions and gut instincts to gain a clearer understanding of the complex nature of student writing and student writers today. With such an understanding we can work more effectively with writers to help their work communicate their ideas in creative and critical ways, and to teach them skills and approaches that will help them be better writers in the future.

In addition to working to understand more about how people write and how we can teach them to be better writers, we work to conduct research in an ethical and participatory manner. We do our best not to regard the writers involved in our research as lab rats that we can observe with detachment and analyze at our pleasure. Instead we want to conduct research that is collaborative and participatory in nature. We want to do more than simply comply with University ethics guidelines (which we do, of course). We want to model research with writers in the Writing Center as something that they learn from, and benefits them directly, even as we learn more for ourselves. One of the core values of Writing DSCN1772Center work is a dialogic approach to teaching and learning. We work in conversation with students and faculty who come to the Writing Center. We start from where they are, and respond to their concerns as we also discuss with them the ideas and questions we find in their work. This same kind of participatory and dialogic approach helps shape our research ethics and practices and is part of our identity. We believe in a model of research that is reciprocal and engages everyone involved in learning and creating knowledge.

Tomorrow, we’re taking some of our research on the road. Along with Adam Robinson, Associate Director of the Writing Center, and Ashly Bender and Jessica Winck, two of our Assistant Directors, I will be attending the annual conference of the national Council of Writing Program Administrators. The CWPA is an organization that discusses both the practice of administering writing programs, as well as pedagogical approaches to teaching writing. At the conference, we’ll be presenting on a panel titled, Writing Centers as Enclaves: Creating Spaces for Pedagogical and Political Change. After the conference, I’ll be writing more about this idea next week. As with any academic conference, we’re looking forward not just to presenting our ideas, but in learning from the conversation from the people there. It is all part of  connecting research and teaching in order to improve all of our practices in the Writing Center.

No Dissertation without Self-Care & Self-Advocacy

Brittany Kelley, Consultant

Last week, I worked as a consultant at the Dissertation Writing Retreat. We were all at different stages of dissertating: finalizing the prospectus;Kelley_WC Pic building the lit. review chapter and gathering data; and narrowing a mountainous amount of data into a book-length project. Yet, we were all facing similar challenges, similar internal questions:

  • How can/do I possibly make it through a project so big?!
  • How can I set good writing routines? What does that even mean?!
  • I’ve got all these things I love right in front of me, how do I choose which ones to write about?!
  • What about my committee?

We also all shared some similar challenges in our writing: writer’s block; organization issues; typos; identifying just the right amount of content. You know, all those things you can expect.

But, by and large, we all started to see that the biggest challenge we faced was to remember that we needed, first and foremost, to care for ourselves as we dissertated. That we needed to give ourselves moments of rest. We needed to acknowledge even small victories. We had to remember to ask for what we need.

In other words, we all realized that there could be no dissertation without self-care and self-advocacy.

It seems to me that this is true of all writing situations. Writing is a way we figure things out. It’s a way that we communicate our needs and ideas with others. And it can be exciting as much as terrifying. It can be emotionally draining (and, I find, it often is). The dissertation process can be even more so, because it seems like it’s a proving ground, rather than a starting point. So, it’s important to remember self-care actions, such as:

  • Set small goals (100 words per day), and then provide small rewards when you meet them (one episode of a favorite TV show; one hour to do absolutely nothing school-related, etc.).
  • Always schedule in time for real rest. Schedule at least one, free weekend day per week. Or one full week during the summer. Take time away from the project. Allow yourself to recharge and incubate ideas.
  • Take time to visit your notes, and “throw-away” pages. Show yourself how much work you really have done.

And, of course, advocate for yourself.

  • If you need some strict deadlines, then set those up with your committee chair.
  • Remember that your committee is there to guide you, but that the project is yours. In other words, work with your committee to help you meet your goals for your project.
  • Make frequent meetings with committee members. Sometimes talking it out first is what you really need.
  • Consider forming a writing group with peers. Low-stakes writing communities can really help you stay motivated and confident.

The dissertation can take a lot out of you. And, as my dissertating compatriots and I discovered last week, it’s important to take the time to recharge, to care for yourself, and to advocate for yourself as you research and write.

So, happy writing! And remember to take care.

The Week-Long Dissertation Writing Retreat: Notes from the Consultants

We just finished our spring Dissertation Writing Retreat at the University Writing Center. During the week of May 19-23, 14 writers from nine different disciplines took part, meeting every day to write and talk about writing. While some writers were in the early stages of their project and others were close to finishing, they were all provided with time to write and feedback on their writing. Each day the participants had several hours set aside for writing and then time for a one-hour consultation about their writing with a member of the Writing Center staff. In addition there were daily writing workshops on topics such as organizing a large writing project, writing a literature review, and working with committee comments.

Writing Time

Writing Time

The consultants who work during the Dissertation Writing Retreat are experienced writing teachers who are also PhD students currently working on their dissertations. Here are some of their thoughts about the work that took place during the week.

On developing writing strategies, aside from just making time to write:

While the dedicated writing time is often the benefit participants say is most helpful, another important benefit that I think often goes unnoticed until after the retreat is the development of writing strategies. Aside from developing dedicated writing time, it is important to have a plan, and more often multiple plans, for approaching writing and approaching the different tasks of a dissertation. The writing consultants work with retreat participants to practice and develop different techniques and strategies and for thinking about others that might work. For example, this year I worked with one participant on creating outlines both before and after writing. Starting with an outline can help you identifying which pieces fit into a chapter, but sometimes when we’re writing we get stuck thinking about what fits or not and end up not writing anything. In that case, it’s a good idea to just write what you have and then see what needs to stay, what needs developed more, and what belongs in another chapter or maybe even a different publication. So, while the retreat’s immediate reward may be time and more words produced, we hope–or I hope, at least–that the more beneficial reward is the writing strategies that can be applied to the dissertation and future writing projects.  ~Ashly Bender

On remembering to take care of yourself while dissertation:

Last week, I worked as a consultant at the Dissertation Writing Retreat. We were all at different stages of dissertation, but, by and large, we all started to see that the biggest challenge we faced was to remember that we needed, first and foremost, to care for ourselves as we dissertated. That we needed to give ourselves moments of rest. We needed to acknowledge even small victories. We had to remember to ask for what we need.

In other words, we all realized that there could be no dissertation without self-care and self-advocacy.

It seems to me that this is true of all writing situations. s important to remember self-care actions, such as:

  • Set small goals (100 words per day), and then provide small rewards when you meet them (one episode of a favorite TV show; one hour to do absolutely nothing school-related, etc.).
  • Always schedule in time for real rest. Schedule at least one, free weekend day per week. Or one full week during the summer. Take time away from the project. Allow yourself to recharge and incubate ideas.
  • Take time to visit your notes, and “throw-away” pages. Show yourself how much work you really have done.

~Brittany Kelley

On how academics really manage to complete projects:

During a late morning workshop on Thursday, I talked with participants about ways to maintain the habit of writing after the retreat. What they said reminded me of several important principles around completing academic writing projects. Many of the participants appreciated how the DWR structured a set time and place for writing. Committing to this routine meant that writing would not be an irregular event, but rather a habit. Participants also mentioned how they appreciated the group dynamic of the retreat as a form of accountability. Surrounded by other academic writers who were similarly working toward a set of goals provided motivation to continue – and at least one small group in the retreat committed to maintaining regular writing together in the weeks to come. And finally, several participants noted the value of talking to others about their writing. In reference to the daily afternoon meetings with writing consultants, the participants said that talking one-to-one about their projects became an important strategy for addressing challenges and setting goals. This rewarding discussion reminded me that completing academic projects has much less to do with how “smart” we are as academics, and much more with committing to working on a regular basis, developing and using strategies when we get stuck, and making sure to build in time for regular discussions with others about our work.

~Jessica Winck

Consultants and Participants Talking about Writing

Jessica discussing writing with one of the retreat’s participants

On project planning and the early stages of dissertation work:

I worked with two math education dissertation writers. Both were working on their proposals, which are due in August. I liked working with them at this stage as they are still making their way through the literature and methodologies. This was different than past retreats which participation stipulated a defended proposal. I liked this earlier stage in the process because I could help talk them through the lit review as well as scheduling out short and long term goals. The proposal stage is all about getting your bearings and this is what they needed help with most. As someone who is in the same boat as them, the beginning stages of writing this document, I learned a lot just from talking with them about their writing fears and challenges. And I think that talking helped them get writing.

~Jennifer Marciniak

On writing in a collaborative atmosphere:

This past week at the Dissertation Writing Retreat has taught me a surprising amount about the collaborative side of dissertation writing—a concept which I think contradicts what many of us think about writing, and especially in this rather peculiar genre. As a consultant, I began the week with few assumptions about the work ahead of me, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself paired with two students who had remarkably clear ideas about what their projects entailed, and what thoughts would need to go into the writing to get their arguments across. These students, it seemed to me, didn’t need a lot of coaching to get the work written, or even a lot of effort to make their writing read easily. Both brought that to the table on the first day. What they did need was just someone to receive those ideas as an uninitiated reader (uninitiated, at least, to their specific fields and projects), who could then bounce back the most salient ideas to them. I’m fond of automobile analogies, and to me this process felt very much like taking these projects for a “test drive” every day—I would take up whatever new ideas they had presented for the day, do a spin around the block in them, and then report back to their authors what was working and what might need more tweaking.

As a student currently working on my own dissertation, this test drive process was both enjoyable and informative. I was always happy to take a break from my own project for a few hours; to get out of my car and try a new one for a bit. I also learned quite a bit from seeing the process play out in someone else’s shoes. When,–after a day that saw a lot of suggestions on re-organization of points with both of my clients–I met with my own director and was given the same feedback, I realized pretty quickly how necessary it is to have a “test driver” on your team, who can exist outside of your project until you bring them in for specific testing.

"Test-driving" the dissertation with colleagues and consultants

“Test-driving” the dissertation with colleagues and consultants

We often think of writing as a solitary practice, and I feel like the drafting of a thesis or dissertation often feels even more so. But this week has made it abundantly clear to me that we all need a team to help us out from time to time; that we are, in fact, engineers who are designing a kind of textual machine that needs to work on the road, or in the field. I was happy to serve on two such teams this past week, and going forward with my own project, I feel more certainty about how to use my own.

~Benjamin Bogart

On the joys of the retreat:

One of the best things I saw this year at the Retreat was how much the graduate students enjoy interacting with each other.  I loved to see them share their advice about how they handled certain steps in the writing process, from organizing all of their research to how to structure certain chapters.  We do a lot as consultants, but I think a lot of the benefits of the Retreat for graduate students is how much they can learn from each other’s experiences as well.

~Meghan Hancock

A Year of Success in the University Writing Center

Bronwyn T. Williams

Director, University Writing Center

In the rush to meet deadlines, turn in papers, finish grading, and all the other actions that mark the end of an academic year, we can become so focused on navigating what’s ahead of us that we lose sight of the journey we’ve completed. I always think it’s useful to look back and reflect (no surprise to those who know me). As with every year, the central mission of the Writing Center has been to work with members of the university community to help them become stronger writers. The consultants in the Writing Center have worked with thousands of students, faculty, DSCN1756and staff on everything from dissertations to lab reports to job letters to novels, and have done an amazing job from the first day of fall semester to the last day of this term. In addition to this ongoing teaching of writing, however, this year in particular has been an eventful year at the University Writing Center. It’s worth taking a moment to point to some of the accomplishments, and to talk about what they are going to allow us to do in the future.

Some of what has taken place has been new:

Writing Center Website: In February our new website went online. Not only is it easier to navigate, but we have new material online to help writers. For example, we have links to answer questions about Common Writing Situations faced by both undergraduate and graduate students. We also have up-to-date handouts on everything from strategies for revision, to writing better introductions and conclusions, to issues of grammar and style. We will be continuing to build the website in the common year to add more resources for students and to create resources for faculty writers and about the teaching of writing.

Virtual Dissertation Writing Retreat: We held our first online Dissertation Writing Retreat for distance students in January and plan to have similar events in the coming year.

Writing in the World Art Show: We held our first, juried art show focused on ideas and images about writing. Titled “Writing in the World,” and organized by Gabrielle Mayer in Fine Arts, the show opened as part of the Symposium of Student Writing in March.

“How I Write” Blog Series: Writers as varied as University President James Ramsey, sports blogger Mike Rutherford, professor and Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the School of Medicine Tom Geoghegan, and novelist Brian Leung contributed to our new blog series on “How I Write.” Each writer offered insights into writing processes and tricks and approaches to writing. The series, the brainchild of Assistant Director Ashly Bender, will go on hiatus for the summer but return in the fall.

Some of what happened was the growth of ongoing Writing Center projects:

Writing Center Social Media: Our presence on Twitter and Facebook became more frequent and popular over the past year. And our blog not only brought ideas about writing and Writing Center work to the UofL community, but also connected to writers, teachers, and tutors around the country.

Dissertation Writing Retreats:We will continue to have our popular Dissertation Writing Retreats in the spring and fall semesters at the University Writing Center.

Workshops: Our Writing Center staff conducted a broad range of writing workshops in both courses and for student organizations on issues such as revision, writing a literature review, citation styles, and resume writing.

Finally, in addition to carrying on with these ongoing projects, there will be more changes in the year ahead:

WCOnline Scheduling Software: Starting in May the University Writing Center will move to new scheduling software. This new scheduling software will make it easier for students to make their own appointments online, and make it easier for us to coordinate and work with writers, both in person and online. If you’re planning on coming back to the Writing Center in the fall, take a look in the summer and take a moment to register with the software.

Videos about Writing: We’re planning on creating more videos that respond to student concerns about writing and writing processes.

It has been another strong year at the University Writing Center and I want to thank all the writers who made appointments with us and all the faculty who supported our work by recommending us to their students.

I also want to thank all the amazing Writing Center staff for such a great year. The positive, supporting, and productive work that takes place here, and the transformative effect it can have on students, comes from the thoughtful and dedicated work of our staff.

We will be open during the summer, starting May 12, from 9-4 every weekday. Meanwhile, take a look at our website and we hope to see you soon.

 Writing Center Staff Achievements

The University Writing Center, in addition to its teaching mission, is also an active site of scholarship about the teaching of writing. Staff from the Writing Center were engaged in a number of scholarly projects during the past year in rhetoric and composition, literature, and creative writing.

Jennifer Marciniak, Assistant Director for the Virtual Writing Center, was recognized by the Southeastern Writing Center Association as Graduate Student Tutor of the Year for 2013-14. She will be starting a job with the Writing Center at Berea College this fall.

Ashly Bender, Assistant Director of the Writing Center, published a chapter titled “Exploring Student-Veteran Expectations about Composing: Motivations, Purposes, and the Influence of Trauma on Composing Practices” in the collection Generation Vet: Composition, Student Veterans, and the Post-9/11 University.

Layne Gordon, a consultant, had her article on “Tutoring with Genre: Making Connections Between Genre Theory and Writing Center Pedagogy,” accepted for publication in Praxis: A Writing Center Journal.

And the Writing Center staff presented at a variety of conferences during this academic year.

Ashly Bender – Eastern Kentucky University Tutor Appreciation Workshop

Megen Boyett – Rhetoric Society of America and Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture

Daniel Ernst – Kentucky Philological Association; Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture

Meghan Hancock -Southeastern Writing Center Association

Jennifer Marciniak – National Conference on Peer Tutoring; Southeastern Writing Center Association

Dan McCormick – Language, Literacy, and Culture Graduate Student Conference; Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture

Jacob Robbins – Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture

Adam Robinson – Eastern Kentucky University Tutor Appreciation Workshop

Jessica Winck – Eastern Kentucky University Tutor Appreciation Workshop; Research Network Forum

Rick Wysocki – Language, Literacy, and Culture Graduate Student Conference; Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture

This summer Ashly Bender, Jessica Winck, Adam Robinson, and I will be presenting at the Council of Writing Program Administrators conference.

Finally, congratulations go to Megen Boyett and Amy Nichols for completing their MA program and to Amy for being admitted to the UofL Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition.




How I Write: Austin Bunn — Creative Writer

Our “How I Write” series asks writers from the University of Louisville community and beyond to respond to five questions that provide insight into their writing processes and offer advice to other writers. Through this series, we promote the idea that learning to write is an ongoing, life-long process and that all writers, from first-year students to career professionals, benefit from discussing and collaborating on their work with thoughtful and respectful readers. The series will be featured every other Wednesday.

Austin Bunn’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, The Best American Science and Nature Writing, The Pushcart Prize anthology, and elsewhere. His collection of short stories, The Brink, is forthcoming from Harper Perennial (2015). He wrote the screenplay to the film Kill Your Darlings (Sony Pictures Classics), with the film’s director John Krokidas, about the origins of the Beat generation writers, staring Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, and Michael C. Hall. The film premiered at Sundance 2013, and screened at the Venice, Toronto, London, and Hampton’s Film Festivals. He teaches at Cornell University.Austin-Bunn_BW

How I Write: Austin Bunn

Location: Ithaca, NY

Current project: Original screenplay, short documentary, devised play, and more fiction!

Currently reading: The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing and The Song Is You by Arthur Phillips.

  1. What type(s) of writing do you regularly engage in?

    These days, I find myself drawn to writing screenplays — I love the collaborative experience of making film, the most powerful art form of our time. Also, frankly, screenwriting is, for me, much much easier to produce than fiction. Great fiction demands close attention to the filigree of sentences, original perceptions rendered in fresh language, and consciousness on the page. When done well, there’s nothing like it, and the satisfaction of moving a reader through prose is a deep reward. But man, it’s work!

  2. When/where/how do you write?

    I have an office, with a good desk, nice classic chair, and a view of my front lawn. And I never use it. I end up going to a coffeeshop and parking myself for hours there – it keeps the distractions (email, phone calls, news) at bay. I tend to write for about 3-4 hours and then I’m done and I need other people.bunn_TheShop

  3. What are your writing necessities—tools, accessories, music, spaces?

    Foremost: music. If I forget my headphones when I head to the coffeeshop, I know I’m in for a difficult morning. When I start a new project, I start by shopping for a soundtrack: something to inspire, provoke, contextualize what I’m doing. For Kill Your Darlings, it included bebop jazz, period love songs (“You Only Hurt the One You Love”), and a lot of Sigor Ros and Jonsi. Then we were lucky enough to get all of them on the soundtrack!

  4. What is your best tip for getting started and/or for revision?

    Getting started has never been hard for me. The blank page is my friend, and I think you need to make friends with it. I give myself total permission to write poorly but I try to find the “voice” of the piece: is it edgy and dense? Funny? Searching and quiet? Those first days are exploratory. Revision is another matter entirely: I don’t love it. It requires the part of my brain that is a close-reader, that inches the bar higher and higher, that expects more from me than I thought I had. I also feel like I can revise sentences forever. Sam Lipsyte told me that if you find yourself revising a sentence once and then revising it BACK to the way you had it, you’re done. Move on.

  5. What is the best writing advice you’ve received?

    “Deeply imagine.” Ethan Canin.
    “There is no good part. It should all be the good part.” Sam Lipsyte.
    “Writing is about the inner experience of life; that is what writing can do that no other art form can.” Marilyn Robinson.
    “All actual life is encounter.” Martin Buber.
    “You are allowed shitty first drafts.” Anne Lamott

Getting Started with Revising

Adam Robinson, Associate Director

With a week left to go in the semester, I imagine that many of you are finishing up final revisions.  I have some advice about how you might start the revision process.

AdamFirst, I recommend that you think about revising and editing as two different processes.  Revising is connected to rethinking your argument, reorganizing parts of your paper, rewriting paragraphs, adding new sources, taking out paragraphs that don’t seem to fit in the paper.  Editing focuses more on proofreading your grammar and punctuation errors, checking your citations, rephrasing sentences that may confuse readers.  Revising and editing are equally important, but as you probably know through experience, revision takes a lot more time.

It’s useful to make this distinction between revising and editing for a few reasons, but one in particular comes to mind.  If your professor asks you to revise, then you know based on the distinction you have made between revising and editing, that she or he wants you to make some significant changes to your paper—to restate your thesis—to rewrite a section of the paper—to add new sources that strengthen your argument.  Your professor does want you to edit your work too—but editing doesn’t do the work of revision.

Okay…so you have in your mind the differences between the two.  What next?

I’d reread your paper.  Odds are you haven’t read your paper in a while, so it’s very likely you will have a new perspective when you do so.  Hopefully, you’ll notice places where you can add more analysis or you’ll notice a paragraph doesn’t have as much substance or insight as some of the others in your paper.   Hopefully, you’ll notice some parts of your paper you really like too.  You may decide to focus your revision on what you feel you are doing well.  That’s an important thing to note.  Oftentimes, a writer will view the “good parts” of her or his paper as the parts that can be left alone when revising and editing.  But sometimes the opposite should happen.  Sometimes the best section of a paper needs to be more than a section of the paper—it needs to be the whole paper!   The big point here is that a big part of revision has little to do with actual writing—thinking or rethinking is equally important.

After you’ve reread the paper and started to come up with things to work on, check again on what you were asked to do with the assignment.  This starts with taking another look at the assignment sheet as it usually will have some clues about how you can approach your revision.  Not only do assignment sheets have lists of requirements (this many sources, this many pages, etc.), but often they have insight into why your professor asked you to do the assignment to begin with.  This seems obvious I know, but it’s easy to miss assignment details when you write your first draft.  Writers are often just eager to get thoughts down on the page with early drafts, so details can get skimmed over.

Look at professor comments if you have them.  Read those comments as soon as possible to be sure you understand what you’re professor has written—you may need clarification.   And I recommend drawing a diagram—or some kind of chart—where you organize the comments your professor gave you.  What comments ask you to revise?  What comments ask you to edit?  If you take anything away from reading this blog, it may be the following the point: Be sure to address those revision comments.  It’s easy to fix commas and misspelled words (the editing stuff)—it’s harder, for example, to strengthen your paper by reworking your introduction so it frames your paper more effectively or by rewriting a paragraph so it connects better to your argument.

Finally, this comment relates to any paper that requires you to use sources or requires you to analyze a book, film, etc.—which is a lot of papers in college.  Before you go and track down more sources, go back to the sources you already have.  For example, you may be citing a scholarly source or analyzing a novel.  Scholarly sources and novels can be pretty dense; you usually need to read them more than once to really get everything the writer is trying to say.  So rereading all or part of that source again may allow you to draw on some more material.  And also go back to your paper, to the places where you use sources.  Are you getting everything you can out of the source?  When you quote, do you take time to discuss the quote and really flesh out for the reader what you see when you read the quote?  Basically, what I mean to get across here is that you may have all the material you need right in front of you.  Or you may not!  You may need to read some more.  You may need to change the direction of your paper.  But at least doing some of this preliminary work can help you figure out what you will need to do to successfully revise.

Before I end this blog, I have to credit Alex Clifton (a consultant in the University Writing Center) who  created a wonderful handout about revision strategies.  Check out Alex’s handout, along with all of our other newly revised handouts, all of which, are located on our new website.

Good luck revising!



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