How to Write and Communicate

This week’s first reading was a little different from the usual, because it required flipping through an entire book rather than reading one article. How to Write Anything: A Complete Guide by Laura Brown was, in my opinion, the most overall useful reading we had from this class. While it will not help me as much as some of the others specifically in my writing consultancy, this how to manual is perfect for people like me, who work well with examples and need things concise and to the point to ensure that I do not lose focus. As a result, I am likely to use this book regularly in my life going forward, and I am glad that I have my own copy.

It was interesting to see the broad variety of genres, though they are not called genres as we have discussed, included in the book, from athletic resumes to divorce announcements to personal blogs. It really felt like there was nothing the book did not specifically cover, and if there was, it seems that there would be at least a close enough match. I liked that this book includes even more informal examples of writing, because I think that we often forget that there are “right” ways of doing even less formal writing, so it is nice to have a guide for those. It also struck me that this would be a good resource to recommend to clients who come into the writing center, because it is overall more concise and less intimidating than many other more traditionally academic resources. The layout of the book is aesthetically pleasing, more comfortable than crowded, and the directions are more straightforward and concise than convoluted and confusing. Also, the purpose of this book is to teach anyone how to write anything– even basic works that we would expect college students to already know how to write, such as a five paragraph essay. As a result, it is a very effective teaching tool in every situation, especially in but not limited to writing centers, and is much more appealing than a dense reference book or resource. I personally think that students would be drawn into this book by the more personal sections and would then find themselves looking at the various academic and business based sections. Overall, I thought that everything about this book– even the cover– draws readers in, and that what is inside of the covers was no less interesting.

The other reading this week was the latter half of “Communications for Consultants” by Rita Owens. This second half went through the engagement process and the post engagement communication. As stated in my last post, I felt that the engagement communication was less applicable to our purposes and more applicable to businesses because our engagements in the writing center are generally just one or maybe two relatively short sessions. However, there are some components of engagement that endure regardless of length, such as the necessity of communicating and coordinating goals– what we have called negotiation. Owens also mentions that it is important to keep clients updated on what you are doing, which in a tutoring session can help to alleviate awkward silence because the client knows what you are doing. This is something I found myself doing without thinking about it, saying things like “okay, I’m just going to read this over so I can get an understanding about where you are at” so that my client is not just staring at me wondering when I intend on paying attention to him/her. The post-engagement section was far more relevant to the writing center. We can utilize this to encourage returning to the writing center, which brings more business into the center and also allows us more time to really fine tune a paper with a client. Through this, our clients can become “regulars”, who are more aware of how the center works and thus are able to experience more smooth and effective sessions. Overall, the book and article were a bit of a study in contrasts, primarily because they were made for two very different audiences. Laura Brown’s How To Write was made for anyone, which is why it applies so well to the writing center and also to virtually everything else, while Owens’ “Communications for Consultants” was much more narrowly tailored, hence why it was more dense, only applicable to the more business side of the center, and overall more difficult to understand. What both of these readings had in common, however, was the fact that they are both some degree of useful resources both in and out of the writing center and that both can be used as resources in my professional life, though one will be more referenced and the other will be more of something that I think back to as I form my more professional habits.

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