Demystifying the Writing Process

Mark Flynn
Adjunct Professor of English
Plymouth State University

You have a huge paper due in a week. You are unsure of your thesis statement. Dangling modifiers plague you. Where can you turn for help?

The Writing Center has a solution. Come to them for extra help. There is no cost and its staff is used to working with busy students. “Useful things can happen in a very short time,” says Writing Center Director Jane Weber.

Located on the Lower Level of Lamson Library, the Writing Center is open to all Plymouth State University students. Appointments are recommended, but not necessary. Students should bring the assignment they are working on and some questions for the consultant to help them answer. There are no red pens here or criticism. But there is a relaxed atmosphere in which to improve student writing. According to Weber, the writer—not the consultant—is in control.

Seth Fornash, a freshman communications major, smiles as he finishes his session with Director Weber. “It’s nice and welcoming. You feel comfortable sharing ideas,” he says. “And now I’m more open to making changes in my paper,” he adds.

Sessions can last as short as five minutes or as long as an hour, according to Weber. The Writing Center caters to all disciplines; however, English majors, business majors, and social science majors have been their best customers. And all levels of college writing are equally welcome.

Aaron Gets, a freshman getting feedback on his paper for a Composition class, leans back in one of the oversized chairs. He is listening thoughtfully as he and Jared Lauze, a student consultant at the Writing Center, go over his paper. “Smaller chunks,” says Lauze. “Work on keeping one thought going.” Getz leaves the twenty-minute consultation feeling confident. “I have more of an understanding of what to tie in and where,” he says with a sigh of relief. “And I got some help fixing the grammar, which I needed.”

The Writing Center meets writers at their level and aspires to show them how to improve. Jared Lauze admitted he did not take advantage of this extra help during his freshman year. “I went to PSU last year and I didn’t even know about it,” he says with a laugh.

Lauze advises other students to take advantage of the extra help that is available. “If you’re going to write something, you’re not going to be right on the button. It takes a few times to get it right,” he says.