How to Have a Successful Consulting Session in Bierce Writing Commons

When you meet with any of the Writing Commons consultants, the first question they will ask is "What do you want to work on today?" To make the best use of your time, come prepared with a plan of action.

Before your meeting with a writing consultant:

  1. Reread your assignment carefully. If you have any questions about it, try to clarify them with your course professor before you come to the Writing Commons for your appointment. Bring the assignment sheet to your meeting.

  2. Reread any work that you have already completed for the assignment. This might include research you have collected, notes you've made, an outline you've prepared, the start of a draft of your paper, a completed first draft, or multiple drafts if you are in later stages of your writing process.

  3. Make a list of your concerns. What are you mainly worried about with your paper?  
    • Starting it?  
    • Organizing it? 
    • Developing your ideas? 
    • Presenting your ideas clearly? 
    • Using correct sentence structure, grammar and mechanics? 
    • Documenting borrowed material?

During your Writing Commons session:

  1. Let your consultant know what you want to work on. Your consultant will listen carefully, and together you will determine the best way to proceed with your session. Sometimes consultants might suggest that you focus first on concerns you haven't suggested. If so, they will always explain why. Together, you will decide how to spend your time.

  2. Often your writing consultant will ask you to read anything you have already written aloud. Reading aloud can be a useful strategy for many writers. Hearing your ideas can give you a different perspective. For example, as you read, you might hear that the organization doesn't flow or that some of the ideas are not as clear as you thought they were. You might hear grammar errors that you didn't see when you read your work silently.

  3. Sometimes your consultant might ask you to write during the session. Please note that your consultant will never write on your paper. You are the writer and will always be in charge of your paper and any marks, notes, or corrections that are made on your draft. 

  4. Listen carefully throughout the meeting and ask questions whenever you need clarification. The most successful sessions are those in which the writer and the consultant collaborate.

After your Writing Commons session:

  1. When you wrap up your session in the Writing Commons, be sure to ask any questions that you might have.

  2. If you need a report for your professor, ask your writing consultant at the end of the session. The consultant will complete a form describing what you worked on together during your meeting.

  3. Think about what you learned during your meeting and how it might apply to future writing assignments.