How to Prepare for a Visit to the Writing Center

By: Sydney Anderson

First and foremost, it is critically important to note that you can make a Writing Center appointment at any stage of the writing process. This includes but is not limited to: brainstorming, outlining, drafting, revising, and revisiting. The Writing Center tutors are here to offer feedback and support at whatever point you feel would be most beneficial. 

That being said, a little bit of preparation for the appointment will help you maximize your time spent working with a tutor. How is it recommended that you prepare?  See below.

Schedule an appointment online

The UVA Writing Center does take walk-ins, but to ensure a tutor is available to help you when you come in, we recommend you schedule your appointment in advance online at virginia.mywconline.com. Just make an account and select an available window for your appointment! When scheduling an appointment, do your best to leave yourself time between the appointment and the assignment’s due date to continue working on your piece. You will benefit much more from your Writing Center appointment if you have time to actually implement your takeaways in your writing.

Have your prompt handy

It is very helpful for your Writing Center tutor to be able to read the prompt and potentially discuss it with you before digging into your paper. They will probably ask you for it at the beginning of the session.  Writing with your prompt nearby helps you ensure that you are answering all parts of the prompt in your paper. If you have any other relevant notes, handouts, texts, etc that you will use for your paper, be sure to bring those as well.

Bring a notebook and pencil or a laptop to take notes

You’ll get the most out of your session if you’re able to write down and remember any recommendations your tutor makes that you like or ideas that pop into your head during the session. Additionally, you may end up brainstorming ideas on paper, outlining, drafting a thesis, et cetera, in your session. Your tutor will email you a summary of what you worked on in your session and some next steps, but it is helpful if you keep your own notes as well.

Know what you want to work on

At the beginning of your session, your tutor will probably ask you what you want to work on. This is your opportunity to identify particular goals or concerns you have regarding your writing so that your tutor can help you address them. You don’t need to have any solutions or specifics. Essentially, you just want to be able to answer the question: why did you make a Writing Center appointment? 

This could be as simple as:

  • “I’ve been struggling with organization in my paper.  Can we work on that?” Or,
  • “This is my first time writing a narrative paper, and I don’t have any experience writing in this style.  Can we talk about how to go about that?”

A few recommendations:

  • If your piece of writing is long, identify either specific sections that you are concerned about or “global” concerns that are present throughout.
  • Your Writing Center tutor will not proofread your paper for grammar errors, but if you have overarching grammatical questions or concerns, they may be able to help with that.
  • If you’re feeling lost in your writing process, that’s okay! Just explain to your tutor what’s been working and what hasn’t, and they will be happy to help you navigate your way through the writing process.
  • If you are required to come to the Writing Center for a class, do still think about what you could work on in the session that would be most beneficial to you. Make the most out of your time you spend in your tutoring session, even if it’s required.

Participate actively in your session! 

The Writing Center model is centered around discourse between you and your tutor. Since it is your paper, the session will focus on your ideas, and the Writing Center tutor is there to support you in your process, discuss your thoughts with you, and potentially offer recommendations when appropriate.  Come in prepared to have a back-and-forth conversation about your paper with your tutor.


Works Consulted

Dickinson College. “Writing Center FAQs.” Dickinson, Dickinson College, https://www.dickinson.edu.

University of South Florida. “Writing Studio.” University of South Florida Academic Success Center: Undergraduate Studies, University of South Florida, 2021, https://www.usf.edu.

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