Tuesday, April 6, 2021

It's a Blog Takeover! Getting Started - Part 1

Dear Roxy Readers - Spring has finally sprung, and I am excited to share more writing tips from Rylie, a Stone Writing Center tutor. Read on to see her suggestions about getting started on a writing project!

I look forward to seeing you next time the sun is up, the breeze is cool, and the waves roll into view.


Hi, everyone!

If this blog seems a little different than what you’re used to, it’s because Roxy let me guest star for another special topic today. Thanks for letting me chime in on your blog again, Roxy! Today, I’d like to talk about something many people struggle with when it comes to writing: getting started.

I’ve certainly struggled with starting writing projects throughout the years. Writing is one of my favorite things, yet that blank page still scares me sometimes (although not as much as spiders). Remember, just because you struggle to get started doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer. Still, issues with getting started can cause trouble when you’ve got a deadline to meet, so how do we push past that apprehension? One of the biggest problems I have boils down to finding my focus—my interest—for the essay. Although the cause for my lack of interest differs for each assignment, I’ve found a solution for each.

Have you ever felt a topic was boring or too vague? I used to begrudgingly accept that the assignment wasn’t going to be fun or interesting and press forward. Eventually, I decided I’d had enough of writing papers that bored me to tears, so I started to look for fresh angles that inspired me. Although it took me a bit longer, I found that I wrote my papers faster and the end result was better.

For example, if you had to write a critical analysis over a book you found boring, it might seem impossible to make the prompt interesting, but you can use your dislike for the novel to your advantage. Think about why you didn’t like it. Did you disagree with one of its messages? Were the characters unlikable? Did the plot drag on? Each of those can be used as the basis for your essay, but be careful not to rant. Similarly, if you like the topic, think about why. Determining why you like or dislike something can help make the subject more interesting. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve struggled to write because I had too many ideas for an essay. If you’re someone who struggles to come up with one idea, I can imagine you’re rolling your eyes. It sounds like the dream, right? In truth, however, too many ideas can be overwhelming because it’s hard to stay focused. If this is a problem for you, try making a bulleted list with a sentence or two for each of your ideas. This exercise will help you determine what you can write the most about.

There are also times when the prompt seems so personal that you struggle to write anything. When that happened to me, I stared at a blank page for hours, writing and deleting sentences more times than I care to remember. How did I eventually write the essay? I found a way to distance myself so that I could manage my emotions. See if you can approach the prompt from a different angle that has fewer personal and emotional ties. Remember, you are in charge of how much you share, and there’s often a way to tackle these assignments without added stress.

Conversely, you might have a prompt that you desperately want to answer using your own personal experiences. You might be crushed if your professor says that you can’t use examples from your own life, and you wind up not knowing what to write about. If that’s the case, remember that your experiences can be used as a starting point for your essay even if you don’t write about them. Use your personal knowledge of the subject to inform your research. That way, you won’t refer to your own experiences, but your essay will still cover the same ideas.

That’s all I have to say about getting started for now. Remember, finding an interest in a prompt will always motivate you to start writing. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with your readers, Roxy!


Thursday, February 25, 2021

It's a Blog Takeover! Getting the Most Out of a Tutorial Session - Part 2

Wow, Roxy Readers! I am so happy to be on the other side of the crazy week we just had in Texas. I hope everyone is safe, warm, and ready to move forward. We are continuing our blog takeover with Rylie who has more great tips to share.

I look forward to seeing you next time the sun is up, the breeze is cool, and the waves roll into view.


Hi, everyone!

Last time I was here, I gave a few pointers on how to get the most out of a tutorial session. Since then, I’ve wanted to chat with students about how to make the most out of each consultant’s feedback. A few days ago, I told Roxy, and she asked me to share my thoughts with her readers. Thanks for lending me your platform, Roxy!

One of the biggest misconceptions students might have is that the consultant points out everything that could use revision in an essay. In reality, consultants have an unofficial checklist that we go through while looking over a paper. The most important concern is the content, so that’s what we focus on first. After all, a well-written, grammatically correct paper over cats wouldn’t receive a 100 if the prompt is over ice cream, right?

Each tutor has a slightly different checklist and will notice different things, but very few will start with grammar if there are bigger issues to address. And when it does come time to edit grammar, the consultant will likely only point out and help you edit one or two errors, leaving the rest to you. That means that when you go through your paper, you should look to revise and edit not just what the consultant pointed out, but also what they did not comment on. Use their feedback to guide your search. And remember, if you struggle to locate or fix these errors, you can always ask a consultant for further help. The consultants are always glad to assist you.

Consultants limit the revisions they suggest per session in large part because they don’t want to overwhelm students. A few times, I’ve received so much feedback from peers on a paper that I freeze up. It’s hard to know where to begin when you have a long list of comments, after all. But when I looked closer, I found that many of the suggested changes were quick fixes.

Whether your suggested revisions are mostly quick fixes or more in-depth changes, you’ll need a way to minimize your anxiety. For instance, you might distance yourself from the critiques, as if they’re referring to someone else’s paper, so that you’re better able to digest them. One of my newly discovered tactics is to make a list of the comments, arranging them based on importance. I’ll also try to file similar remarks under a single bullet. That way, I have a manageable checklist to go through while revising. Not to mention, there’s a huge sense of accomplishment when I’m able to scratch off bullet points after I’ve addressed them.

Finally, remember that you should take breaks from revision, just as you should while writing. If you refuse to take a few minutes here and there to do something else, you might get overwhelmed, or you might wind up bleary-eyed, which could mean that you miss areas that need some revision.


As always, I’ve enjoyed talking to you! I’m hopeful that this set of blogs will take some of the pressure off when it comes to tutorial sessions. I hope to “see” you again soon, but until then, happy writing, consulting, and revising!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

It's a Blog Takeover! Getting the Most Out of a Tutorial Session - Part 1

To my dear Roxy Readers, it's good to be back! The SWC folks and I are still working remotely, and we've been crazy busy helping students with their writing. An amazing team has assembled here at the Stone Writing Center, and I have invited a few of my colleagues for a Surfing the Waves of Writing blog takeover.  Starting off our guest series is Rylie, and she's got some great info to share. Thanks for being so loyal, Roxy Readers! 

I look forward to seeing you next time the sun is up, the breeze is cool, and the waves roll into view.

Hi, everyone!

Thanks, Roxy, for letting me share some thoughts with your readers! I hope you’re enjoying some clear skies and perfect waves.

Alright, everyone, I’m going to let you in on a few trade secrets, but you have to keep it quiet, okay? If the other consultants find out I told you, they might throw a party. What? You thought they’d be mad? No way! We’ve been looking for a way to fill you guys in for a while now. So, what do I mean by “trade secrets?” I’m going to tell you how to get the most out of a tutorial session!

Let me ask you this: Have you ever gone to the doctor with several questions or concerns in mind? In the past, I didn’t write down my questions for the doctor ahead of time because I was sure I’d remember. Despite my confidence, I’d always forget one or two of my concerns (and of course, they had to be the most important ones). In the same way, you might forget some important questions you had over your paper when you’re talking to the consultant. Try writing your questions down, and then use them as a checklist to be sure that all of your concerns were addressed.

Speaking of questions, I often hesitate to ask for clarification when learning something new. Sometimes I’m afraid it’s a dumb question, and sometimes I’m worried my queries will be annoying to the other person. In case you’re the same way, let me assure you that your questions are not dumb or annoying. In fact, I love it when those I’m working with ask for clarification because I can be sure they understand everything I’m saying and I get to talk to them about their paper.

Signing up for multiple sessions can feel a lot like a follow-up question, so it’s understandable if you’re hesitant. Still, I highly suggest pushing past that anxiety and signing up for another session after revising (if your schedule allows). That way, you can be sure that your revisions are improving the paper and that lower-level concerns, such as grammatical errors, are also tackled (consultants like to focus first on higher-level concerns, such as the content of your essay and whether you’re meeting assignment requirements).

However, resist the urge to sign up for another session the moment you finish one. It might feel like you’re getting more done because you’ve been through more than one session, but the opposite is actually true. Because each consultant will focus first on higher-level concerns, if you haven’t revised what the first consultant pointed out, you might spend multiple sessions discussing the same thing. As a result, your lower-level concerns never get addressed. You might also struggle to remember everything each tutor said. In either case, your paper won’t improve as much as it would if you spent time revising in between sessions.

With multiple sessions often come multiple tutors, and students occasionally try to request a consultant because they’ve worked together before. I understand the reasoning—we’re awesome, after all… wait, what do you mean that isn’t what you were thinking? 😀 In truth, it’s only natural to want to continue working with someone you mesh well with and who understands your strengths and challenges. However, we’re unable to take requests for a specific consultant, which is good because each one has a unique way of thinking and a different area of expertise. Therefore, we may focus on something slightly different when it comes to offering you feedback. It makes sense, then, that getting a different tutor for each session is actually good.

One last tip for now: In most essays, you’ll need to write so that everyone (including those unfamiliar with your topic) can understand and follow your thinking. For example, if I wanted to discuss a specific scene in a book with a friend that hadn’t read it, I would need to give a brief summary of the book first, and they’d ask questions when they don’t understand something. Your audience can’t stop you to ask questions while reading your essay, so having a consultant who’s unfamiliar with the topic read your paper means that they’ll address those areas that don’t make sense to the ordinary person.

That’s all I have to say about tutorial sessions for now, but expect another blog discussing how to implement the feedback from these sessions. Thanks again, Roxy, for letting me chat with your lovely readers! Happy writing!

Monday, April 20, 2020

A Note from Home

My Dear Roxy Readers,
You are missed. 
Be safe. 
Be patient. 
Be kind.
I look forward to seeing you next time the sun is up, the breeze is cool, and the waves roll into view.
‘Til then, hang ten!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Where in the World is Roxy?

Roxy Readers - I have the MOST exciting announcement to share! Stone Writing Center has teamed up with Math Learning Center to open the Academic Learning Center on our West Campus. We're thrilled to have another place to call home. Come see for yourself! We are the Academic Learning Center located in A123 of the Emerging Technologies Building. I'll share more details soon, but I wanted to leave you with these images. Yes, these are actual photos. :-) 

See you next time the sun is up, the breeze is cool, and the waves roll into view. ‘Til then, hang ten!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Rounding out the SWC Tutoring Team...

Hi Roxy Readers! We have come to the end of our semester and to the last, but certainly not least, of our tutor introductions. I hope you've enjoyed getting to know a little bit about them! I certainly have! Wishing you the very best on your final exams, and I hope you have a safe, happy holiday season!

See you next time the sun is up, the breeze is cool, and the waves roll into view. ‘Til then, hang ten!


My name is Jacob, and I graduated from Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi in the fall of 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in English. I have always been drawn to the written word, something that helped place me in my current position. Throughout my academic career, I worked as an editor, which inevitably led me to the Stone Writing Center. My free time has been literarily fueled as well, the genres being particularly fiction-focused. Authors like Terry Pratchett, Brandon Sanderson, and so forth have kept me company for longer than many of my current friends. These literary greats were always proof of how worlds could be created through the power of the written word, something I strive to emulate. Looking back, I just wish I could have told my past self to focus a little bit less on the magic and a little bit more on the essays that were due at midnight.

My name is Teri, and I am happy to call Corpus Christi my hometown!  I have both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in English, and my area of specialization is American Literature.  As you might have guessed, I love to talk about American writers. Some of my favorites are Mark Twain, Naomi Shihab Nye, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Ray Bradbury and Rudolfo Anaya.  Really, there are so many great American writers that it’s hard to pick a favorite.

Although I earned my degrees at SMU and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, I started my journey through higher education right here at Del Mar College.  My love of writing, however, goes back much farther than college. I was actually still in elementary school when I learned that writing can be a powerful way to communicate with others as well as to sort through my own thinking about any given topic. Ever since then, I was hooked!  If I had the chance to go back and tell my “younger” self something, I’d say to take the time to enjoy the good that each phase of life has to offer.  It may feel like you have to rush and “get through” college before you can really get started on life.  The truth is that each and every day is a unique chance for living that only comes along once.  As much as possible, try to find something good in every day. Everyone has struggles and doubts! When things are hard, reach out for help.  Friends and family are often great sources of support, but don’t forget that Del Mar also offers lots of support services for students.  Making connections opens the door for us all to give and receive the kind of support and encouragement that we need to stay strong and keep working to realize our dreams.


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