If you are coming to the writing center for the first time, you might be feeling a bit uneasy or uncomfortable about showing and talking about your writing with a stranger. Knowing a bit about how that conversation might go may help you feel more at ease.
Writing Center consultants are, like you, student-writers. Some of us are graduate students and some of us are undergraduates. All of us share an interest in writing. We like to write and we like to talk about writing. When you come to the writing center, one of us will sit down with you. We'll ask you what you're working on and work with you to get a good description of your assignment or project, a good sense of where you are in the writing process, and a good sense of where you would most like to focus the conversation.
Some typical topics include brainstorming paper topics or theses; building support structures for primary arguments; writing from sources; building citations; writing introductions and conclusions; revising strategies; knowing yourself as a writer; and copyediting strategies for student-writers.
Your conversation will last for twenty-five or fifty minutes. You and your consultant will typically use the last five to ten minutes to create a plan for your continuing work on your assignment or project. You probably won't be finished with your paper when you leave the writing center, but you should have a very good sense of what to spend your time working on and how to accomplish the work that remains to be done.
You may visit the writing center occasionally (on an as-needed basis) or set up regular appointments. You can choose to work consistently with one consultant or to work with different consultants each time you come.
What to Bring
When you come to the writing center for a consultation you should bring a written copy of your assignment if you have one. If you are writing an assignment for a class, bring your syllabus. Bring any writing you have done for your assignment or project (your most recent draft and, if it seems useful to you, bring prior drafts). If you are working on an application essay for graduate school, bring the prompt to which you've been asked to respond. If you are coming to the writing center to work on a longer project such as a thesis or dissertation, you may want to set up regular appointment with a single consultant. Certainly, for your first few appointments, bring any written description of departmental or programmatic expectations for theses or dissertations in your discipline.