Writers Talking With Writers
Conversation affords us the opportunity to identify and negotiate various perspectives, including our own. We often think that we have pushed our minds to the limit and can’t see a way to make an argument any deeper or more complex or more persuasive until someone asks a question about it. In short, conversations prompt us to think differently. When we verbalize an idea that we’ve explored in writing, we hear how it sounds as if someone else had said it thus giving us a new perspective. Additionally, in conversation, we are charged with negotiating meaning. This charge pushes us not only to respect the other’s need to make sense of our ideas but also insists that we help them in this process. To this end, peer-writing consultants will encourage you to write, to question your own logic, to revise, and to reconsider.
Sometimes writers just need some confidence. This is true of professional scholars, graduate students, and undergraduates alike. Hearing that our writing is effective and enjoyable to read and that we, therefore, don’t need to change what we have written is quite valuable. A peer-consultant can help a writer see value in a project or in themselves that the writer may not otherwise notice. For some students, visiting a writing center feels like admitting they are not good enough to be in the course they’re taking. Often even those students who are confident in their writing ability feel vulnerable when asked to share their writing. But sharing your work with a non-judgmental peer-consultant can be empowering. The Writing Center is a place for taking the abstract and making it concrete. While your imagined audience may be overly critical of your writing, a peer-consultant in the Writing Center is focused on helping you to uncover your potential as a reader, thinker, and writer by identifying what your writing does well so that you can build on it in the future.
Writers need readers. A peer-writing consultant can help you to refine your sense of audience so that you better understand how readers will respond to your ideas and their presentation. Peer-consultants work to draw writers outside of their own minds in order to help them see their writing as others are likely to see, interpret, and respond to it. This is a hard thing to do on one’s own—and why professors rely on their colleagues and editors for their own written work. We believe that students deserve no less than what professional scholars expect for themselves. Ultimately, we write for others, so we should inherently seek any interaction that allows us to see a project from outside of our own bias toward it. In a writing consultation, peer-readers will narrate for you their experience of your text: where and how they felt invited into or excluded from the scholarly conversation you have initiated. This includes identifying moments of wonder, pleasurable language, and intriguing ideas as well as places of confusion stemming from structural incoherence, unconvincing analysis, or lack of evidence.