Student Services Spotlight: The Writing Center
By Isabel C. May, Ph.D., Director, Writing Center & Faculty, Science Communication Program
As James Michener, famous writer and author of bestsellers like Chesapeake Bay and the Pulitzer-winning Tales of the South Pacific, once said, "I am not a good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." In this quote, Michener captures a key element of our basic philosophy at UMB's Writing Center, namely that effective writing rarely happens in first drafts. So if that's the case, how, as writers, can we develop practices that get our writing to the next level?
One way to do that is to strategically seek out feedback on our written work. At the UMB Writing Center, our peer graduate consultants, all of them writers-in-progress, just like our clients, read clients’ drafts and provide feedback from their perspectives as readers. Generally, we work with writers, at any stage of the writing process, on overall organization, clarity of main argument or thesis, following assignment requirements (when applicable), and our ability to follow a writer’s narrative, in addition to feedback on grammar and sentence-level concerns.
Essentially, we are mirroring the peer-review process that all of us as research writers have to follow when we submit our work for publication. Unlike those with whom you work in the peer-review process, however, your Writing Center consultant likely will not be an expert in your field. This means that consultants serve as a general sounding board for your ideas as well as partners with whom you develop strategies for improving your text and yourself as a writer.
At the Writing Center, we also support writers who reflect diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. James Wright, our most recent team member, serves as the new Multilingual Writing Specialist. He is a great resource for anyone who wants to develop strategies for excelling as a multilingual writer.
Our educational vision at the Writing Center also includes authentic and active community engagement. This year, we have launched a series entitled “Writing for Advocacy” to critically explore strategies for writing advocacy with UMB researchers, students and staff and Baltimore resident communities. Please check our website for more information, including details about our kick-off event on 11/8 and additional programming in the spring.
Consider taking advantage of our services at any stage of your writing process, including face-to-face or online consultations, our numerous online resources, our Dissertation Writing Academy offered each year, or workshops and Writing Accountability groups (WAGs) offered throughout the year. Our website is www.umaryland.edu/writing.
As Maya Angelou so eloquently said:" There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." At the Writing Center, we are here to support you, to ensure that your amazing stories will be told!