Preparing for Appointments

It is normal to feel nervous before your first session with a writing tutor. Chances are, you have had few one-on-one conversations about what you write. At the Writing Center, our tutors have all had their own first sessions—they know what it's like and can guide you along in the process and help you feel welcome.

If you are simply eager to talk about your work and bring it to the next level, we're ready to work with you, too! 

Below, we have written out many details about the Writing Center. However, keep in mind that you can always ask your tutor about these things, as well! We provide this much written information for those who like to see it all in advance.

If you have not used the Writing Center yet, please learn about scheduling from our Tutoring Schedule Appointment page. 

If you would feel more supported by hearing about the Writing Center from a person, please contact us at We would be happy to answer your questions and help you get started.

If you want to know how our tutors are trained, you might check out the materials for Cultivating Voice and particularly this article, "But I Write the Way I Talk" by Marissa Luck (PDF).

The "fine print": Everything you would ever want to know about the Writing Center

What you can work on with a writing tutor

Tutors are trained to work on any kind of writing at any point in its development—they can work with you on brainstorming ideas even before you have a draft, they can help you understand where to cut down or rewrite what you have, or they can help you identify common grammar issues and typos in your final drafts. 

Writing Skills & Using our Writing Resource Library

You can come to the Writing Center to ask questions and review writing websites, writing books, and writing guides alongside an undergraduate peer tutor who can support you along the way. 

Before you Have a Draft

You can work with a tutor on brainstorming, mind mapping, or just generating ideas even before you have a draft. 

During the Development of your Draft

You can work with a tutor on the order of your paragraphs, the readability and flow of your sentences, and correcting any errors in your text.

Your opinion and sense of style are important in the session. Your tutor will ask you many questions to find out how to support what really matters to you about your writing. We can help you find your voice.

Number of Pages Covered in a Session

Keep length in mind: a long draft may need more than one session. A good rule of thumb is 3-5 pages per 50-minute session. If you are working on a draft that is longer than that, your tutor may ask which areas are most important to focus on.

Academic Writing 

You can bring your academic writing—essays, seminar papers, annotated bibliographies, literature reviews, citations, and more.

Creative Writing

You can also bring your creative writing—plays, novels, short stories, cartoons, memoir, poetry, and more. 

Professional and Graduate Writing

You can also bring your professional writing—cover letters, resumes, one-pagers, white papers, personal statements/statements of purpose, and more.

Multimodal and Beyond

Finally, you can also bring your work that you may not think of as writing—podcast scripts, documentary film scripts, presentation slides, website copy, infographics, posters, toasts for a wedding, and more. 

Looking for help with finding articles, books, and other materials to write your paper about? The Library in Evans Hall has research assistants that can help during their Zoom drop-in hours

What you can expect from your writing tutor

  • Your tutor will shape their feedback to suit your goals and to suit your deadlines.

  • Your tutor will use strategies that help you make your writing more effective. Some of the strategies our tutors most often use are:

    • Taking notes on your ideas as you speak them

    • Asking clarifying questions about your motivations, audience, and more

    • Asking questions that help you generate new ideas or perspectives

    • Reading your work aloud 

    • Identifying patterns in your writing that you may not be aware of 

    • Modeling new sentence options

    • Talking through the five-stage writing process

    • Researching answers to questions about grammar, style, and usage together

  • Your tutor will only read your work during the session (they cannot read your paper before the session) and they can only meet on-campus or online for your appointment (they cannot meet off-campus).

  • To guide the session, your tutor will ask you questions. It's not required, but you can prepare for those questions by reviewing or completing an Author's note:

How to get the most from your sessions

  • Communicate your goals. When you tell your tutor what you want to get out of the session, tutors can make sure to support you in meeting that specific goal. If you’re having a session about academic writing, for example, you might ask:​ 

    • Is my argument and evidence convincing to you? /Do you feel me?/ Do you feel moved?

    • Do you see the connection between my writing and the quotes I am using?

    • What would you say is the main message of my piece, as you read it? 

    • Do you have any techniques to work on the stage I'm at in my process?

    • When you read this, is anything unclear? Where do you get hung up?

    • Are there any common grammar mistakes or typos I should consider editing? 

  • Bring your stuff. Arrive on time with two paper copies of your draft or notes, and one copy (digital or paper) of your faculty’s instructions or other prompt.

  • Make multiple appointments. If you’re working on a longer or high-stakes project, consider making multiple appointments over the span of a couple of weeks. 

  • Give yourself time afterward to reflect. You’ll need this time to think through and incorporate the feedback you received. 

  • Find a good match. If you find a tutor you work with well, consider meeting with them on a regular basis. Working with the same tutor can save time because they become familiar with your writing style and what you’re working on in your program.

  • Make a weekly appointment. You can schedule a weekly appointment to reserve the same time each week with your tutor. 

  • Mix it up. Alternatively, you may find it beneficial to meet with different tutors to get varying perspectives. 

Weeklies: When One Appointment isn't Enough

If you are passionate about exploring yourself as a writer, and you have time in your schedule to dedicate to your craft, consider making weekly appointments for a quarter. You are likely to discover a great deal about your process, style, and strengths.​ You can set up a recurring appointment by talking with your tutor. 

Weekly appointments are great for students doing Independent Learning Contracts. Meetings with your tutor can give you that added support to help you thrive while you work independently on your academic goals. 

Increasing Accessibility

The Writing Center can offer alternative tutoring arrangements, such as longer or more frequent sessions, on a case-by-case basis.

Tutors can also meet with you in the Assistive Technology Lab, where one can access screen readers, dictation software, and other technological resources. Tutors can meet in other locations in Evans Hall such as Academic Computing or the computer bays in the Library proper.

Other arrangements may be able to be made. What do you need? 

Alternative arrangements are best made ahead of time and must be agreed to by all involved. Contact with questions. 

Feedback for Us

Your feedback means a lot to us. You can give us feedback in one of two ways:

Check out our Myths about the Writing Center page to learn more.