Monday, February 22, 2010

My Writing Process

No matter the material, writing can be overwhelming and even sometimes paralyzing. However, when writing is broken down into steps of a process the task is suddenly manageable. I personally have come up with a process that not only works for me, but also makes writing a more enjoyable experience.

First, before anything else, I have found that it is important to change into comfortable clothes (sweat pants, hoodies, and fuzzy slippers are my favorites). It also helps to have a certain place reserved for writing. This will help with getting into the right mindset before starting. Now the actual writing begins. Depending on the nature of the paper the next step can be one of two things. If the paper is supposed to be specific or persuasive I usually will make an outline or web diagram. This helps to strategically organize my thoughts and points. On the other hand, if I'm telling a story, for example, I prefer to simply start writing without any structure to get all my ideas down on paper. The next step is to organize my ideas into paragraph form. Usually the first draft will be the result of this step. At this point I like to leave the paper for a couple days. When I return I like to have someone else look at my work to give a fresh perspective. Next, it is my turn to proofread the paper and make sure all my ideas are presented thoroughly. This step could take time and include multiple drafts and/or more time putting the paper aside. Finally, it is time for the last draft. Once I am confident and comfortable with the piece I will write one final copy and I'm done!

This was just a brief overview of my personal writing process but each writer may have their own unique steps and different preferences. The important thing is to find whatever works best and to make it a habit to use the process for each piece of work. By doing so writing will transform from daunting to delightful. :)

Tutor Talk Episode #5 - Personal Statements (feat. Dr. Brian Ballentine)

Tutor Talk Episode #5 - Personal Statements (feat. Dr. Brian Ballentine) is now available for FREE download on the iTunes store. Click here to download this episode from iTunes.

If you don't have iTunes visit the official WVU Writing Center website to stream all 4 podcasts from your web browser.

In this episode, Graduate Assistant Ben Myers interviews WVU's own Dr. Brian Ballentine, on how to write the best personal statement for graduate school applications. Dr. Ballentine offers his insights on how to write a successful personal statement.

We recommend downloading Tutor Talk through iTunes via this link. iTunes is a free download to all users both Mac and PC. If you don't have iTunes, stream any of the podcasts from your browser by clicking HERE.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Happy International Writing Centers Week: Part I

Do you know your writing Horoscope for (the rest of) the month of February? In honor of International Writing Centers Week, the tutors consulted the stars.

Aquarius January 20 - February 18
You've never liked staying within the norm, and this month is no exception! Take some time to write in a style you never have before, whether it be slam poetry, play writing, or something you've completely made up! Use your large circle of friends to bounce off ideas and get feedback.

Pisces February 19 - March 20
This month you will avoid writing the every day romantic stuff found on cards; rather, you will write something magical and fantastic - it's your time to shine.

Aries March 21 - April 19
With your creative energy, drive for excellence and penchant for risk-taking, this is the month to get yourself working on that project you've had on the back-burner! You'll have some stabilizing forces coming your way, so use them to actually finish a written piece!

Taurus April 20 - May 20
The coming month will be trying, but you will overcome. Your deep knowledge is complimented by your ability to ask for help from those around you. Don't forget that as you head into your next task, the wall is only intimidating as long as we imagine it is not made up of many, manageable blocks.

Gemini May 21 - June 20
Communication is your favorite thing, and this month that's no exception. This is a good time to write something that speaks to people, but try not to get too serious. Your playful sarcasm is likely to go right over their heads!

Cancer June 21 - July 22
Your home is your sanctuary, no matter where you believe home to be. Host a "potluck" writing party there, with your closest friends bringing inspirational items from their childhood. Make it warm and inviting, or else you are likely to retreat into your shell!

Leo July 23 - August 22
Mighty Lion, it's your time to roar. Write it out, let it out. This is your month to be the center of the stage and the page!

Virgo August 23 -September 22
Many people see you as a stingy perfectionist, but you know that's not (completely) true! This month is a great for showing others how creative you really are by writing something different. Then use your eye for details to revise to make a fantastic piece.

Libra September 23 -October 22
Your desire to be around others is amplified this month, so use that motivation to collaborate with another writer on something truly spectacular. You can harmonize and balance like no other, so the typical problems you would face with collaborating are no where to be seen.

Scorpio October 23 - November 21
Your writing is dark and mysterious, but this month you may also find yourself writing an impetuous note. The consequences could be dire. Think before you act, or better yet, write that note, but come back to it once you've had time to think things through.

Sagittarius November 22 -December 21
You are the best around. Always be mindful of the fact that nothing will ever keep you down. Take this month to gather your strength, study a writer you wish to emulate, practice your basic writing skills, and focus on the tasks ahead. When you are ready, breathe deep, sweep the leg, and take your next writing task down. You are the best around.

Capricorn December 22 -January 19
Although you may feel like everything you write has to have a purpose that will get you somewhere, this month will put you in a position where you have no "work" writing left to do! Use this chance to create a piece solely for you and not for social climbing. If you have difficulty, just remember that writing of any kind will only make you better at it when you really do have work.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Writing Center Alum -- Making a Difference!

From Lauren O'Connor, WVU Writing Center Tutor 2007-2009

Anyone who knows me, realizes that I come up with these slight off the wall ideas and well, try to execute them. As I said, Dream BIG or go home! Errr, we’ll, I’ll be stopping by home. Ha!

What the heck am I doing…?

Mission- To raise $100,000 for animal shelters, dog rescues and Great Dane rescues

Where- Begin in NJ, zig zagging across the country with the trip ending in California-ish area

When- March 1st

How- The kindness of family, friends, sponsors and strangers

Who- Harley. Blue Merle Great Dane. Roadie of amazingness. Age 6.

Why- To raise awareness for the special needs and life changing experiences of sharing the love of Great Danes. They rawk my socks!

Here are a few ways you can help:

1. Donate (click the button- it’s on the site!)

2. Host/organize a Pit Stop (just one- not the whole trip!)- or attend one!

a. What is that you ask? Fundraising. It’s a stop along the way that can be a happy hour (where we get the door or donations), a dinner, a bake sale, etc. The whole point is to raise money and I need people on the ground!

b. Get creative people!

3. Stalk us


b. Check the site daily, please:

c. You’ll be able to link to Google Latitude and actually SEE where we are on the road. Cool, eh?


a. This is SOOOOOO important- you NEVER realize who can help, who has an idea or who knows someone

b. Forward this email, forward the site, talk about how crazy I am- do it! I dare you.

c. Post it on YOUR blog, twitter, email directory, moms postcard, take a sticker (or 5!) pass it on, etc.

5. Encouragement

a. Sounds stupid to say, but it’s helpful.

b. Nice people rawk!

We’re trying to get on local and NATIONAL TV and Radio. So far we’ve spoken to some peeps at the Today show, ABC, NBC, etc. Can you help? Great!

I can’t wait to see ALL of you along the way!

Mucho love,

Lauren and Harley

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Writing Blog Review II

Continuing the review of various writing blogs, here are two more that we thought you might find interesting:

How many times have you sat down to write, but not had a clear idea of what you wanted to write about? Just the act of writing, regardless of the topic, can be simultaneously cathartic and generative. The Prompt Writer's slogan, "Always have something to write about," can feel like an impossibility; however, as I explored the website, with its massive archive of ideas, having something to write about seemed a little easier. Currently the website has a slew of Valentines Day related writing prompts that may not be all that useful for teachers, but in general there are enough to choose from (or refashion) that inappropriate or problematic prompts don't stand in the way of this website being a useful resource for both writers and teachers of writing. For example, the Silo activity asks that we decide on a subject, an item, a location and an objective before we begin to write. While possibly too restrictive for creative writers, this activity might be a great way to get students to think about these elements of story telling in a free write exercise prior to beginning work on a personal narrative or interview essay. So what are you waiting for? Stop reading and get writing.

While the previous review focused more on teachers the Creative Writing Corner is all about writers. In addition to providing young writers with great reasons to consider getting an MFA the website also works as a forum to discuss issues that are important to writers. Blair Hurley, the websites host, recently cleared a space for readers to reflection the death of J.D. Salinger and in late January opened up what has become a lively discussion about the future of the novel. As a student herself, Hurley makes references to her own experiences, to books that she is reading, and frequently posts pictures and other writing suggestions and prompts. It's a fun site with lots to explore. The discussions are interesting and online submissions create a space for virtual peer review. I would recommend the website to any writer, but especially those whose nostalgia for The Algonquin Round Table and The Beat Generation leave them looking for similar communities in digital spaces.

Winter Weather 2.0

The WVU Writing Center will open at 10:00 am today, but due to road conditions, some members of our staff may not be able to make it to campus, and others may be late to their appointments.

Thank you for your patience, and please keep checking the blog for updates.

If you have questions, email:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Winter Weather

The Writing Center staff apologizes for the inconvenience. Due to winter weather, we will have limited hours on February 9 and February 10. The Center will close at 3:00 pm in February 9. We hope to reopen on February 10 at 10:00 am. Please check back for updates.

If you have any questions, please email Dr. Nathalie Singh-Corcoran (Nathalie.Singh-Corcoran@mail.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Writing Blog Review

Here are two blogs we'd like to recommend to all you writing fans out there:

Letters of Note is an incredible gathering of postcards, letters, and all manner of other written correspondence from both recent and less recent history. We’re able to see public figures in a new, much more personal light, as real and interesting people. I love this blog because you never really know what you’re going to get: one day might be a letter from Dr. Seuss to a budding cartoonist, the next a cheeky note from President Kennedy to a autograph scalper, and the next day might bring a joyfully bizarre fan letter from Andy Kaufman to Elvis Presley. It’s truly wonderful, and it's been one of my favorite "finds" of the last year.

After Deadline is the New York Times’ version of what language nuts do each time they read the newspaper—nitpick over the little linguistic details that drive them crazy. The interesting catch here, though, is that the writers of After Deadline critique stories that have appeared in their own paper. Beyond a frank admission of their slip-ups, though, the blog uses errors within the paper to illustrate tricky and sometimes controversial questions of grammar and usage. Their goofs become instructive for those of us who may wonder what goes on “behind the scenes” at The Times, and it’s also reassuring to know that even the most skilled writers and editors in the country sometimes aren’t quite sure how hyphens work.