What We Offer

Group writing support
In addition to working with writers one-to-one, we can also support writers who are working in a group.

Online consultations
If you are an online student or someone who commutes to campus, we offer online writing consultation for your convenience. Please e-mail director Jane Weber, jlweber@plymouth.edu, to learn more.

Weekly appointments
You may set up a weekly appointment with any writing consultant. You can cancel if you need to and start up again when it is convenient for you if that time is still available.

Resumé guides
Come use any of our resumé guides as a reference. You can also work on your resumé or cover letter with a consultant.

Writing handbooks and citation help
How to cite a source

A quiet place to work
Feel free to come to the Writing Center, even if you aren’t looking for a consultation. Sit down at one of the computers in our cluster, or grab a seat at a table or on one of the couches. Make yourself comfortable and please let us know if we can be of any assistance.

Computer cluster
We have several computers and a printer, and our cluster is available to you during any hours that Lamson Library is open.

  1. Does the paper meet the length requirement?
  2. Does each subsection contain the appropriate information?
    • Is any information missing from a subsection?
    • Is there any information that needs to be moved to a different section?
  3. Is the paper clear and easy to read?
    • In each section, is the information presented clearly?
    • On the paper, make a note in the margin at any points where you are confused or have to concentrate to understand.
  4. Has the paper been adequately proofread?
    • As you read the paper, make penciled notes on it where you think improvement could be made in areas such as
      • spelling
      • punctuation
      • capitalization
      • style
      • general presentation
  5. What do you think would help the author improve the paper?
    • How could this become an A paper? Try to list at least three suggestions.

Strategies for helping writers focus:

  • Pomodoro Technique – 20 minutes of working, 20 minutes for a break
  • Reward yourself for working
  • Working with other people (if it helps)
    • Or work alone
  • Break up projects into smaller chunks
  • Set personal deadlines
  • Minimize distractions
  • Decide how to tackle your work
    • Eat the elephant – work on the hardest section first OR
    • Work your way up – start with smaller pieces and work your way up to the big parts
  • Change your environment
    • Is your room comfortable or too comfortable?
    • Try different places! The Hub and the Library are open
  • Set goals during a work session
  • Accept imperfection
    • Writing is a process
  • Seek resources
    • Friends
    • Professors
    • Writing center
  • Transcribe
    • Say the words and then write them
    • Word and Google Docs have built-in recording software!
  • Pay attention to your body rhythms
    • When in the day do you feel creative?
    • When do you feel ready to work?

In college, you will be given many different kinds of writing assignments and papers. It is essential that you take the time to understand exactly what is required. After all, if you don’t understand the assignment, how can you fulfill it? So your first and perhaps most important step when receiving an assignment is to work toward understanding it fully.

Tips to understanding the assignment:

  1. Read and re-read the assignment sheet. Often an assignment sheet contains a lot of high quality condensed information and instructions. It is easy to get the wrong impression on the first and even the second read-through. Assignment sheets are almost always short. Read them carefully and re-read them.
  2. Be sure you understand all the language on an assignment sheet. Look up any words you don’t know. Check concepts in your texts that are mentioned on an assignment sheet. If you’re unsure about words or concepts, ask your professor for clarification.
  3. Focus on the verbs, the words of instruction. Underline them on your assignment sheet. What exactly does the assignment ask you to do: Define? Explain? Describe? Reflect on? Summarize? Compare and contrast? Explore? Discuss? Each of these verbs is slightly different. Be sure you focus on exactly what your assignment is asking you to do.
  4. Look at model student papers that fulfill the assignment, or if that is not possible, then look at papers of the same type. The Writing Center has samples of model student papers, including research papers for sociology, lesson plans, and formal business reports.
  5. Think about and discuss with others, such as a consultant at the Writing Center, what the purpose of the assignment is. How will the paper you write fit in with the course you are taking? Many assignments ask for papers that fulfill a specific concern of a specific kind of course. For example, an essay about a piece of literature is often like a review, a way to share appreciation of the literature so others will appreciate it more. Understanding underlying purposes like this will help you write your papers.
  6. Visit the Writing Center.

Ask yourself these questions as you read over the first draft of your paper. The answers to most of these questions can be found by reading your first draft out loud.

  1. What point do I want to make in the paper? What is my major reason for writing it?
  2. Have I said clearly the thing I want most to say?
  3. What information does not contribute directly to my main point(s)?
  4. How long must a reader read before knowing what my subject is? Can I get into my subject more quickly than I do?
  5. Have I left muddled sentences in my draft? Can I make sentences clearer?
  6. Should I alter my choice of words—using words which more precisely convey meaning? (Try using a thesaurus.)
  7. Can I simplify sentences, maybe by eliminating some words, e.g. unnecessary adjectives?
  8. Am I guilty of using clichés, tired old expressions that have been used so much that they have lost the power to be vivid? (Examples include “means the world to me” and “would give the shirt off his back.”)
  9. Does my text flow easily from one idea to another?
  10. Is my conclusion adequate? Does is provide a graceful end to my paper?
  11. Is my reference page sufficient when it comes to acknowledging my sources?

Here are some strategies that can help!

  1. Write notes in the margins.
  2. Ask yourself these questions:
    • Who is the author writing to?
    • What is the author’s purpose?
  3. Write a summary after every two or three paragraphs.
  4. Keep a dictionary by your side while you read and use it to look up words you aren’t sure of.
  5. Realize that all texts are trying to change your view of something.
  6. Answer the following:
    • Before I read this, the author assumed I believed …
    • After I finished reading, the author wanted me to believe …
    • The author was/was not successful in changing my view. How so? Why or why not?

Find additional advice here.