Writing Centers strive to excel at consulting with every type of writing from business and scientific writing to English papers. However, many writing tutors struggle with consulting on creative writing. Many fear the creative writers and have dozens of questions and worries about a creative session. “How can I critique a piece like this?” “This has no rules or standard templates to work from. How can I give advice on what’s right or wrong?” “This isn’t my field and I have no knowledge of literary devices or how to critique creative writing.” “My fallback is always grammar and obviously the creative writer doesn’t need help with that area because they write all the time. They know this stuff.” “Who am I to judge their piece?”
Hans Ostrom discusses the uneasiness with creative writing in his article “Tutoring Creative Writers: Working One-to-One on Prose and Poetry.” He discusses how peer tutors are not alone in this uneasiness. He says, “… there are all sorts of literary experts in our midst who claim to be unable to respond to creative writing; they can make this claim with a straight face only because they are proceeding from the premise that creative writing is somehow not writing; if creative writing were in fact, writing, then, as literary experts, they would not seriously claim to be unable to say anything about creative writing.” He proposes that tutors must banish this idea of creative writing as not writing. They must focus on doing what they are trained to do: stay professional, focus on the writing (the draft), and throw the adjective “creative” out the window.
As creative writers ourselves, a fellow consultant and I decided to team up this past spring to help ensure that creative writers had another place to receive critique on their writing. We knew creative writers come in to our writing center occasionally, but certainly not on a regular basis. Through some informal research with some fellow creative writers, I found that many felt unsatisfied with their writing center experience when dealing with creative work. Many had failed to give the Writing Center another chance and those who did often found disappointment yet again. We quickly realized that to increase the number of creative writers and creative writing pieces coming into the Writing Center, we needed to help consultants feel more comfortable with creative writing sessions. We went to work on creating presentation consisting of tips for consulting on creative writing sessions.
We employed a number of tactics to prepare for the presentation including asking our creative writing friends for input on what change they wanted to see in the Writing Center. We also requested these friends to send in some of their work for consultation or come in for a face-to-face appointment to test the waters. We wanted to see how consultants reacted to the sessions. Did they enjoy them? Did they feel out of their element? How did they feel the session went? We also asked the clients to give us feedback on the session. Did they feel like the consultant addressed all of their concerns effectively? Did the consultant offer valuable feedback? Did the consultant feel like they made any progress from the session? From these two points, we were able to structure the presentation in a way that would allow us to easily teach the points that creative writers wanted out of creative writing sessions at the Writing Center. The results of this presentation will be discussed in a later blog.
Popular posts from this blog
I have posted a poll in the IWCA forums: IWCA Forum: Peer Tutor => What do we call ourselves: the poll! It is a part of an earlier discussion that kind of petered out about the titles used for writing center workers. Please take a moment and vote! If you don't have an account on the forum, you can register for one by clicking on the "Register" link (next to the rocket icon in the top-right of the page.) Don't forget to state your institutional affiliation when you request and account. (That's how the IWCA Forum keeps out spam accounts.)
Dear me… As a junior in college, you were just trying your best and going through the motions (like everyone else) . You wanted to fit in and emulate what you thought a typical college student should look like. Then, along came the opportunity to become a w riting c onsultant. That’s immediately when the fear started, I began questioning myself and my own personal writing. I was unsure how I, a typical college student, would have enough skills to help others. How would I manage being insecure with myself when I was supposed to be someone my peers looked to find their own confidence? When it came to your first day of work, you were sitting in the writing lab waiting for your learner to show up with anxiety pouring out of your body. It was probably the most anxious you ever got in your life - aside from applying to college in the first place. You were so excited to meet your colleagues, yet so nervous that you were going to disappoint them. Thoughts streamed through your head
Testing Online Tutoring Online tutoring may be a constant of the tutoring landscape, but the question of effectiveness remains. Which organizations are best prepared to meet the needs of students: writing centers affiliated with universities or “professional” tutoring agencies, such as Pearson-Smarthinking? It is this question I intend to address in conducting a proposed experiment. Important Background Information The concept most central to this proposed experiment is that of knowledge claims. In his book Reformers, Teachers, Writers: Curricular and Pedagogical Inquiries , Neal Lerner identifies the three primary types of knowledge claims that appear in a writing center: “writerly knowledge,” “emotional knowledge,” and “role knowledge” (Lerner 115). “Role knowledge” is arguably the most important knowledge claim (Lerner 115). While analyzing transcripts of student sessions, Lerner noticed there was a correlation between the presence of “role knowledge” claims and the “success”