The Writing Center offers students the opportunity to meet with one of our consultants (either a fellow student or an English instructor) about their writing. We can work with students on specific papers/assignments and on writing in general.
Our goal is not only to assist with specific projects but to provide feedback that allows students to become more confident, independent, and effective writers.
To check our hours of operation and/or reserve a time slot, visit our online scheduling system. If you haven't used the system before, you'll need to register using your morris.umn.edu email address. Once you've registered, find the date for which you want to make an appointment and see which times and staff members are available. You'll need to give us some basic information when you sign up, including the course and the professor's name, the due date of the paper, and what kinds of things you want to work on during your appointment.
Drop-in visits are welcome, but appointments are preferred.
The Writing Center opens September 8. We're open Sunday-Thursday afternoons and evenings; a detailed schedule will be posted as soon as it's available.
Frequently asked questions
Why go to the Writing Center?
All writers rely on feedback from readers at various stages of the writing process. Most professional writers share their work with friends, colleagues, other writers, and their publishers, all of whom offer advice and comment on how the writing comes across to them as readers. These peer readers are often professional writers themselves, or have special experience with writing—with its conventions, it's difficulties, and its power. They are able to draw on their own experiences to give the writer useful information. They may not always tell a writer what to do, but they can notice things the writer missed and help the writer work through particular difficulties. Writers use these exchanges as opportunities to reflect on and improve their writing.
At the Writing Center, we take the same principle and apply it to undergraduate writing. Every person on staff is an experienced reader, writer, and student, so we can offer advice as needed; but mostly we're here to listen to you and help you learn how to make your own informed decisions about your writing.
Consultants can work with you on brainstorming, drafting, and revising; we can help you come up with an argument, figure out a logical organization for your paper, choose evidence, focus paragraphs, and rewrite sentences. We will not edit or proofread your papers for you, but we can help you learn some strategies for doing these things yourself. Be sure to schedule appointments well before a paper is due so that you'll have time to make the changes you discuss with your writing consultant.
In addition to focusing on academic writing—writing for your courses—we can give you feedback on job applications, graduate school applications, URS presentations, or other writing that you may be working on.
Visiting the Writing Center doesn't mean you're a bad writer; it's just an opportunity to give your writing some focused attention.
So can you help me with grammar and punctuation?
Sure! However, when you ask for help with grammar and punctuation, please keep two things in mind:
- There may be other issues that we want to suggest you work on first, such as articulating a thesis or re-organizing paragraphs to support your argument more clearly, because those things are usually more important to understanding the paper as a whole. So if you want to work on grammar and punctuation, please make your appointment well before the paper's due date just in case we suggest that you come back for a follow-up appointment.
- We won't simply go through your paper line by line and edit it for you; rather, as you read through the paper out loud, we'll look for two or three key issues that come up multiple times, such as run-on sentences or verb tense confusion, and then we'll show you some strategies for addressing those issues so you can learn how to fix the problems yourself—not just in this paper, but in future papers.
What are Writing Center sessions like?
You sit down one-on-one with a trained writing consultant (either a fellow UMM student or a college writing instructor) and go over your writing together. Usually we start by asking you to tell us about how the paper's going, what you're happy and unhappy with; then we'll ask you to read the paper aloud to us so we can get a sense of what you've got so far. We don't proofread or correct your paper; instead, we give you feedback on how your writing is coming across to a reader, and we help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your own writing.
Do I have to have an appointment?
No, but it guarantees you a spot; writers with appointments get first priority. Consultants with open appointment times can work with people on a walk-in basis. We tend to have more walk-in times available early in the semester; by the end of the semester, we're usually booked up well in advance. If you know ahead of time that you want a session, making an appointment is a good plan.
Do I have to have a draft?
Nope. If you've got one, that's great, but if you don't, that's fine too. Bring your notes, your readings, or just whatever ideas you've got in your head, and we'll make sure that you leave your session with something on paper.
How long are appointments?
We work in 30-minute time blocks. You can sign up for either a 30-minute or 60-minute appointment.
Are there any restrictions on how much time I can have?
Yes. You can reserve a maximum of 60 minutes in a single day and 120 minutes over the course of a week. We restrict sign-ups in this way so that more people can have the opportunity to reserve times, especially at busy times like midterms and the end of the semester. If you've used up your appointments and still want more help, feel free to stop by the Writing Center to see if you can meet with someone as a walk-in.
What do I need to bring?
If you've already started work on a draft, bring a copy of it, either on paper, on a flash drive, or on your laptop. If you need help getting started, bring any notes or ideas you have. It's also helpful if you can bring the assignment instructions (if you have them).
Will my professor know that I went to the Writing Center?
If you indicate when you sign up that you want us to notify your professor, we will email him or her a short description of the session. If you don't want us to, we won't.