The Art of Writing
By: Julia Rosow
Papers, essay assignments, discussion posts, and news articles are unavoidable. But, good writing is a staple to success. Unfortunately, for many, it does not come easily, and any writing help goes a long way.
The University of Maryland’s Writing Center can be the key to polished writing. The center supplies its undergraduate students with a variety of tutoring services to improve their writing, research, and critical-thinking skills.
The writing center is led by trained, student tutors who currently offer both live, online tutoring sessions and twenty-four-hour feedback for undergraduate students. Student tutors must complete a semester-long course, which focuses on trained writing strategies before they can begin assisting students.
Part-time student writing tutors are well-versed in a variety of writing styles and work with all types of students to improve their skills. What better way to learn writing tips and tricks from the University of Maryland’s very own writing experts?
Kelly Sherman, a junior English major and professional writing minor at the University of Maryland, began working as a tutor at the writing center last semester. Her biggest professional aspiration is to be a political speechwriter and as she puts it, “any writing experience is good experience.”
Her first piece of advice is to think about your organization method before you begin writing. “After I read each paper, I like to talk about organization. The paper should flow from one thought to the next and every supporting paragraph should tie back to the thesis,” says Sherman.
Often, the best way to tackle this approach is to outline your paper or essay before you begin writing, recommends Sherman. Brainstorm your thesis, jot down some supporting arguments, and try to draft a concluding sentence. When you begin writing, this will make it considerably easier to wrap up your finished product.
The next point of focus is always on the thesis statement, says Sherman. “Keep it clear and concise,” she advises. “But out of the two, make sure it’s clear. If I can easily pick it out in the introductory paragraph, that’s a good sign”
Every argument, supporting paragraph, even every sentence should relate back to your thesis statement. According to Sherman, “It is very easy to tell when your thesis does not match the rest of your paper and it’s an easy way to lose points.”
Sarissa Volin, also a junior at the University of Maryland, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Global Terrorism, joined the writing center team as a tutor in January 2020. She first began working as an intern at the center, motivated to improve her own writing skills. After a semester-long internship with the English Department, she was hired as a student tutor.
Her biggest writing advice begins with setting up a paper. “An essay with too much detail or not enough examples can be hard to read,” Volin says. Instead, she recommends including one supporting detail in each body paragraph for thesis-driven papers.
Introductions and conclusions can also be a tricky component in writing a solid paper. “A strong essay should tell me everything I need to know in both the first and last paragraph,” says Volin. “And try to build your introduction so that the thesis statement is the last sentence in the paragraph.”
Sherman and Volin both followed the same path to becoming University of Maryland writing tutors. To work for the center, undergraduate students must complete English388W: Writing Center Internship. This course allows undergraduates to study the technical aspects of the writing process and complete writing exercises to improve their tutoring style.
After successful completion of the course, students can apply to become student tutors at the Writing Center’s Internship webpage. Students of any major are welcome to apply.
The application requires a cover letter explaining your reason for applying, two writing samples, and contact information from two current references.
“The growth opportunities in this position are endless and the reward is high,” notes Volin.
Sherman agrees. “The writing center has really improved my writing skills as a student and a tutor and I love being able to help other students improve their writing as well.”