I’m majoring in not only English & Creative Writing, but Journalism as well – i.e., Maximus Writimus. Writing Central. Writing2.
So why do I, of all people, sign up for tutoring sessions every semester?
1. It keeps me accountable
Not only do I work hard during the sessions themselves (more on that later), but I also try to make progress on my current assignments during the intervening week so that I’ll have something to show my tutor the next time we meet. I’ve never had a judgmental one yet, but I would feel so bad if I showed up to a session having accomplished nothing the previous week! In this way, I’m motivated to keep going even though I don’t always feel like it. (Actually, I never feel like it. “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” – Thomas Mann)
2. I love having a second set of eyes to look over my work
Whether I’ve made typos, have massive gaps in my reasoning, or wrote something just plain confusing, my tutors over the years have provided a fresh perspective. Sometimes the problem is the difference between what I meant to write and what I actually wrote!
3. Brainstorming is just better when someone else is there to listen
Similar to the above point, I know when one of my ideas is confusing when I’m talking a million words a minute and my tutors look baffled: Either I need to explain it better (and in doing so, hone and clarify it) or I need a new idea!
4. I know I’ll get something done during the session, even if it’s very little
Sometimes I do nothing but brainstorm, while my tutor nods and offers suggestions, asks questions, et cetera. Sometimes I make outlines. Sometimes I write a first draft. Sometimes I revise.
No matter what, I get something done each and every time. I used to come away from some sessions feeling disappointed that “all” I’d gotten done was brainstorming or outlining, until I remembered that those are just as important to the writing process as, well, actually writing. Something is better than nothing! If I leave a session with more and better ideas than I had before, at least I’ve gotten somewhere.
5. I don’t know everything about writing
Contrary to what you might think, English majors (or Journalism majors or Communication Studies majors or… I could go on, but I won’t) don’t know everything there is to know about writing! See the above quote by Thomas Mann.
My tutors have always been great at teaching me new skills or reminding me to look out for the things I usually forget. Take outlines, for instance: Since I love writing, write a lot, and was decently good at it, I was never really taught how to outline a paper in secondary school because it was always assumed that I just naturally knew what I was doing. Buuuut… I didn’t! And I still don’t! No one is born knowing everything about their craft, not even writers. If they think they do, that’s just arrogance.
I don’t have a tutor despite being an English major. I have a tutor because I’m an English major. I know my limits and weaknesses and so decided to get help.
There you have it: My reasons for utilizing the writing tutoring available at my school! Plus, tutoring sessions are free, taught by ultra-knowledgeable grad students studying writing or literature, and help me to avoid pestering my friends for feedback 24/7. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of that opportunity?
Have you ever received writing tutoring or been the tutor yourself? What was your experience like?