The Musings of a Peer Writing Consultant

by Katie Grainger

It is on rare occasion that I write something reflective, especially when it comes to my job. At the end of the day, I tend to forget to reflect on the various conferences I experience. I close the Writing Center, turn the key in the door, and head home. The lights are off, the books are aligned neatly in place on their shelves, and the rooms are dark and quiet, holding the secrets of work all in a day’s time. Only the walls know what ideas were bounced off of them and what advice I tried heartily to give.

My job as a peer writing consultant often puts me in a position in which I serve as a guide for students – someone trained to locate writing resources for students, to read through their paper and make sure they’re following assignment guidelines or being clear about what they’re trying to communicate.

However, this is not my only purpose. By coming into the Writing Center, a student is asking me to listen to them, to not only learn about the coursework that they are completing, but also to hear their voice in the words they write. I alone bear witness to their personality and soul on the page. Not only am I able to see them, but I come to understand them in addition to their strengths and weaknesses as writers.

As a writing consultant, I am also able to console them. I know the annoying, tedious process of revising one’s work all too well. I struggle with formulating good topic sentences and organizing my paragraphs more coherently. I spend some nights not sleeping because I cannot, for the life of me, always think of what to write for my papers. I’m a graduate student, a professional writer, and yet I continue to experience difficulty when I must express myself in writing.

This is why I am a writing consultant. I’m a peer tutor and I’m here to listen to my fellow students’ needs. If they are tired and stressed, I can strategize and think of ways to help motivate them to keep writing. If they are shy about their brilliant prose and uncertain of their strong abilities, I will reassure them that their writing is beautiful.

As a tutor I will admit when I am wrong, when I do not have all the answers. I also do my best to challenge students to not only think critically, but also to put that critical thinking into action.

In doing so, I allow the students to teach me – not only about the subject they are writing, but also a piece of what their intricate lives are like beyond just being a busy college student. And that is when I begin to experience what it means to feel alive and to feel most inspired to do what I love.

Ladies and gentlemen, I mean it when I say that there are very few things that I truly love. One of them is writing and the other is trying to influence people with my contagious enthusiasm for writing so that they might be able to find it within them to do whatever it is that they love.

I’d say part of the job description, as I’ve learned how to be a writing consultant, involves being a muse, but that’d be a lie. The truth is, the students I tutor are my muse.

Interested in becoming a writing consultant? Check out the official job description here

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