Both Sides of the Consultation by Funke Ogundimo

posted Dec 4, 2017, 1:42 PM by Writing Center
This post is about a personal experience. I think all Writing Consultants should try to have my experience at least once a semester. We should experience what it feels like to be on the other side of writing consultations, to be a consultee. At least once a semester, I bring my writing to The Writing Center. Sometimes it’s a scholarship or grant application, sometimes a class essay or resume. I think this experience allows Writing Consultants to better appreciate the dynamics of a writing consultation and maybe begin to understand what other writers go through when they come to The Writing Center for help with their writing.

This semester I needed help with what I call my post-M.F.A. applications. I brought two copies of a critical essay, statement of purpose, personal statement, and resume to The Writing Center. I had several sessions with two writing consultants, and they were most helpful. It never ceases to amaze me that I make the same mistakes in my drafts as writers who come to The Writing Center. The Writing Consultants working with me echoed the same words I had used a couple of minutes ago with a writer: Make your topic sentences clearer. What’s your argument in this paragraph? Connect your ideas to your quotes. Don’t use sources as crutches to fill up space to meet page limit requirements. Connect paragraphs back to your thesis. Fragments. Write a strong and effective conclusion. Write your statement of purpose with a specific school in mind.

I can tell you I did a lot of mental face palms during these sessions; I know this, but what I claim to know was not on paper. When I edited my drafts, making use of the suggested revisions, I reminded myself that sometimes it takes an extra pair of eyes to point out these things to a writer, and an empathetic Writing Consultant makes a huge difference.

Another important thing that I take away from these consultations is that I get to feel what consultees feel when they come to The Writing Center with their work: their anxieties, worries, concerns, and trust issues. They have the stress of meeting a deadline, improving the structure and clarity of their writing, meeting style requirements, and even facing the infamous grammatical error worry. I worked with two consultants, and I’ve known them for over two years. The atmosphere of the sessions wasn’t stressful, and the consultants gave me great advice, but first-time writers or regulars to The Writing Center will have to trust strangers to help them with their writing. It can be a stressful. I believe that a Writing Consultant who has been in a Writing Center consultation as a consultee will be able to make use of that experience and make those forty-five minutes count.

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