My first grad school paper was a pretty straightforward assignment with a three-page limit. There was so much to the topic1 that I wrote five pages without even thinking about it. I thought it would be easy to pare down but, try as I might, I could not get it below the limit without removing key points. I was a decent writer and had even worked professionally as a technical author, but I was really struggling.
In an act of desperation, I made an appointment with a writing coach and sent her my latest draft. When I arrived at the appointment, she had already marked up a copy and had a number of great ideas for making the writing more clear and concise. I met the length limit and my paper was fantastic. It didn’t even take that long, especially since that one hour meeting saved me at least as much time fretting over edits. Even better, her suggestions really resonated with me and I noticed my writing improving in general.
I used the writing center a couple more times during my graduate program, each time requiring less assistance for a better result. Writing assignments used to make me apprehensive; suddenly they became easier and faster. A coworker even commented that he was envious of my professional writing. The investment I’d made in my writing skills really paid off when it came time for my capstone project. It was by far the longest paper I’d ever written, yet I felt confident in my abilities and am still very proud of the results.
The university writing center is an undervalued resource. Most students, especially those in technical fields, don’t bother to use it because they get decent grades on their own. Don’t make the same mistake as your fellow students! Using a coach can save you time and stress while improving your writing skills. It’s free, takes just an hour, and can really set you apart academically and professionally. You’ve got nothing to lose!
Has a writing coach helped you overcome recurring nightmares of giant typewriters? Can you leap term papers in a single bound? Did you learn some other way to write good?
- It was related to the Defense Acquisition System, go figure.