Writing Group Facilitator Spotlight: David and Scott

05_01_17 GSWG Facilitators David Scott

This week, we’re spotlighting David Young and Scott Morris, two Ph.D. candidates in English who facilitate our Graduate Student Writing Groups. These writing groups meet for three hours each week in the Graduate Center. During their meetings, participants check in on their writing goals and write independently.

What made you decide to join/facilitate a Graduate Student Writing Group?

David:  Even though I lead a writing group, I consider myself more of a member. I have the same writing struggles that most have.  I figured that a writing group setting could mutually benefit everyone who participates.

Scott: Before I wanted to lead a group, I was just excited about the idea of there being a group. And, since I already wanted to be in a group that would hold me accountable for my writing, it made sense to agree to lead it because I thought that my experience with the writing process might help other people, too.

What has been the most valuable part of the writing group for you?

David:  I’ve become protective of my own writing time, which I think is the most beneficial lesson.  When life and other professional responsibilities come up, we can easily move our own work to the bottom of our to-do list.  Setting aside dedicated writing time (even if it’s only a few hours per week) helps to keep yourself accountable for your own writing goals.  Protecting this time from other things that come up has helped me ensure that I consistently meet deadlines as well as the writing goals that I’ve set for myself.

Scott: One of the things that has been most helpful is remembering that other people are going through similar issues that I am. We all struggle with the long-haul nature of dissertations and theses: research, drafting, coordinating with chairs, revising, editing. Though this can look different for different disciplines, it was helpful for me to be in a room with other people who were doing what I was doing and having support to celebrate the successes and encourage me through the difficulties.

If someone is unsure whether they’d like to join a writing group, what advice would you give them?

David :  Join.  The writing groups are flexible enough to accommodate a variety of writing needs.  You’ll also have an opportunity to connect with other professionals across campus whom you might not have met otherwise.  We connect once a week and help each other meet the writing goals that we’ve set together.

Scott: If you feel like you would be motivated by the camaraderie and the weekly accountability, then do it. If you feel that your best motivation would be one-on-one support with another writer, then I recommend setting up regular writing consultations with the Graduate Student Writing Center.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell graduate students at Texas Tech about writing groups in general or these writing groups specifically?

David:  Writing groups allow people to bond over mutual need to write.  For some, having set time every week to write is beneficial.  For others, the environment created by people working on projects is motivating.  Regardless, come join us in a writing group to see how we can help.

Scott: We’re really friendly and we’re here to help you get your stuff done, and done well! I hope you’ll join in.

If a student is interested in learning more or joining a writing group, who should they contact?

David:  For all things in life, ask Dr. Messuri (kristin.messuri@ttu.edu).

Scott: David or I are the point of contact for specific groups and are both happy to answer questions as we can.

Participation in Graduate Student Writing Groups is done by application at the beginning of each semester. To join a group during Summer 2017, please apply at https://goo.gl/forms/kV6EHSYo5FrihTsm1 . Applications are due Friday, May 26 at 5:00 PM.


Tutor Spotlight: Taryn

04_18_17 Tutor Taryn Gilbert

Today’s tutor in the spotlight is Taryn.

Taryn is a third year PhD student in the English Department, specializing in American Literature. In 2015, she started working in the University Writing Center and moved to the Graduate Student Writing Center in 2016. She teaches 2000-level English courses such as English 2307: Introduction to Fiction and English 2306: Introduction to Drama. Taryn is currently a TEACH Fellow through the TLPDC and won a 2017 Helen Devitt Jones Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award. After graduation, she plans to pursue a teaching position in late nineteenth and twentieth century American Literature at a small liberal arts college. When she’s not teaching or tutoring, Taryn enjoys traveling, watching sports, and writing short stories.

A writing struggle that Taryn has overcome – or is at least working on – is finding focused time to write. As a PhD student, she is busy with teaching, tutoring, studying for exams, and trying to have a life! Although there are weeks where she feels completely unproductive, Taryn thinks it’s important to set aside designated, weekly writing time. She designates two hours for writing on Monday mornings and Wednesday afternoons. Regardless of productivity, Taryn likes to use this time to “force” herself to be focused solely on some part of the writing process; she doesn’t allow any type of media distraction (expect for instrumental music) during this time. If she is feeling very productive, Taryn will write longer than her designated time. Similarly, Taryn makes writing appointments at the UWC or GSWC throughout the semester, especially if she needs to set a deadline for herself. Taryn is also planning on joining a writing group during the fall semester through the GSWC.

Have tips for Taryn to overcome finding focused time to write? Plan on using her “designated writing time” strategy to improve your own writing? Leave her comments below!

Tutor Spotlight: Brandy


Today’s tutor in the spotlight is Brandy.

Brandy is a PhD student in Technical Communication & Rhetoric with a specialization in second language and composition pedagogy. She brings several years of entrepreneurship combined with international work and study to the writing center. Her most recent work studies mechanisms that bring international students to U.S. universities. Brandy’s passion lies in the interdisciplinary unification of seemingly disparate studies. She teaches English 1301, 1302, and 2311 (Introduction to Technical Writing). Brandy loves making seemingly difficult grammar accessible and even easy. Her dream career infuses teaching with intercultural issues in technical communication and rhetoric and program development. You can read Brandy’s recent publication “Recognizing and Disclosing Conflicts of Interest” in Intercom here.

A writing struggle that Brandy has overcome – or is at least working on – is completion. By joining a writing club, working with tutors in the writing center, and setting firm writing goals and deadlines, Brandy is finding success in her academic and developing professional writing. As an editor, Brandy has learned to allow herself to draft as she thinks through the writing, and to allow room for grammatical editing and fine-tuning later in the process.

Have tips for Brandy to overcome in setting and achieving writing goals? Interested in learning how grammar can become “easy”? Leave her comments below!

Tutor Spotlight: Alicia

03_27_17 Tutor Alicia Goodman

Today’s tutor in the spotlight is Alicia.

Alicia is a third year doctoral student in the Fine Arts Doctoral Program School of Theatre & Dance. Her tracks are Arts Administration and Theatre History/Theory/Criticism. Her dissertation is about arts management practices in Bermuda. Alicia joined the Graduate Student Writing Center Team in the spring of 2017, but she has previously tutored at the Marsha Sharp Center for Student Athletes and worked as an English teacher in Japan. When she isn’t tutoring or working on her dissertation, Alicia loves playing with her dachshund, biking, and running. When you come into the GSWC, you will recognize Alicia thanks to her love of brightly colored lipstick.

A writing struggle that Alicia has overcome is organizing ideas and research. When she is writing a paper, Alicia often has many ideas and can get overwhelmed when trying to organize and focus. A solution she found that can help is post-it note idea mapping. She will write each new idea on a different post-it note, but all will be in the same color. She will also write down sources she wants to use on separate post-it notes, which are a different color from the ideas. Then, she will put the post-its on a wall and match sources that can support her ideas. This method allows her to build ideas in a visual way. Once she has ideas and sources on the wall, she can arrange them into an outline. Once completed, Alicia will get another set of post-its in a third color and will add supporting ideas on the wall. If needed, a fourth set will be added and so on. By the end of brainstorming, the wall above Alicia’s desk looks like an 8-bit rainbow! She likes using sticky post-it notes because it is easy to rearrange ideas. While writing her paper, Alicia will pull the post-its off the wall so she can see what ideas she has (or has not) used. This prevents repetition or the possibility of forgetting something she wished to write about.

Do you have a method you use to organize your ideas? Have you tried the post-it idea mapping? Show us a photo in the comments below!

Tutor Spotlight: Aubrey


Today’s tutor in the spotlight is Aubrey.


Aubrey is a second year Master’s student in Technical Communication expecting to graduate in May. She started out working in the University Writing Center last spring and moved to the Graduate Student Writing Center this semester. She currently teaches English 1302. You may also recognize Aubrey from around the writing center: she’s our online workshop facilitator and social media coordinator! She plans to go on to industry after graduation in a job related to accessibility, user experience, or content strategy. When she’s not teaching, tutoring, or holed up at Starbucks, Aubrey is forever trying to master the perfect crane pose.

A writing struggle that Aubrey is constantly battling is procrastination. She tends to spend the majority of her time planning what to write and making outlines, waiting until the last minute to put words to the page. As an attempt to combat that, she’s started making herself write for timed amounts. For example, she’ll set a timer in Google for 20 minutes and just write nonstop. When the timer stops, she can either keep writing, or take a few minutes of break. The most important thing is to just start getting words on the page, even if some of them are going to be cut later!

Have tips for Aubrey to overcome beginning the writing process? Leave her comments below!

Tutor Spotlight: Susan Stone-Lawrence

03_07_17 Tutor Susan Stone Lawrence

Today’s tutor in the spotlight is Susan.

Susan is a Fine Arts Doctoral Program student in the School of Theatre and Dance with tracks in History/Theory/Criticism and Playwriting. She recently passed her qualifying exams and now tutors at the Graduate Student Writing Center while starting her dissertation work. Susan also teaches a section of Programs for Academic Development and Retention as a way of strengthening her instructional skills for the pursuit of her long-term career goal – to become a professor teaching courses in theatre history, theory and criticism, dramatic literature, playwriting, and dramaturgy. During breaks from the relentless hustle of grad school, Susan enjoys relaxing with her best friend/life partner/soulmate, Ranney, as well as their psycho-kitty and two turtles.

Susan easily becomes obsessed with details. She often finds herself spiraling through hours of vocabulary deliberations and other sentence-level tweaking before she even constructs the foundation for a viable argument. This practice unnecessarily increases the arduousness of the writing process, resulting in unpleasant associations with the project and ultimately leading to its avoidance until the adrenaline induced by the approaching deadline forces her back into action. Fortunately, the mammoth undertaking of the dissertation will not allow attempts to tackle it all at once in a compulsive marathon. The process imposes development in stages and routine revisions after feedback from the committee. To reinforce the habit of setting and meeting a series of manageable goals, Susan visits the GSWC as a client, too.

Want to encourage Susan to take it one step at a time instead of freaking out? How do you set a consistent and manageable writing practice that includes rewards for completion of individual goals along the way? Leave comments below!

Tutor Spotlight: Luke


Today’s tutor in the spotlight is Luke (Iantorno, not Skywalker).

Luke is a First-Year Writing instructor for the Department of English at Texas Tech University. He received his English Ph.D. in 2015 and started working for the University and Graduate Student writing centers in August 2015. When he is neither teaching nor tutoring, Luke spends his time researching and writing about his first love: British Romanticism.

A writing struggle that Luke continues to work on is verbose writing. In his own written work, Luke tends to write long, complex sentences that sometimes complicate meaning and inhibit clarity. Luke often reads his work aloud while revising, which helps him more easily find grammatical and syntactical errors. Reading aloud also helps determine the way each sentence sounds, assisting with the revision process.

Do you have recommendations for overcoming effusive writing? Will you use Luke’s reading aloud strategy for sentence-level revision? Leave him comments below!



Today’s tutor in the spotlight is Leslie.

After earning her Bachelor’s degree at Vassar College and a Master’s degree in English education at the University of Iowa, Leslie Akchurin taught English composition for several years before focusing on writing center tutoring, which she has been enjoying at Texas Tech for the past 16 years.  She and her husband, who is a physics professor at Tech, have made their home in Lubbock since 2000, and their daughter is currently at medical school in Fort Worth.  Leslie is an enthusiastic on-location sketcher and is happy to share her experience with this increasingly popular art form with anyone who is interested.

A writing issue that Leslie sometimes deals with is deciding when to conclude her revision process.  She can become so wrapped up in selecting the most accurate and concise phrasing that she “polishes” her sentences to the point of sounding unnaturally compressed or stilted.  She finds it important to keep several drafts of a piece of writing so that she can return to them at the end of her revision process, read them aloud, and decide if some phrasing in the “final” draft should revert to earlier, more natural-sounding versions.  While careful revision is of course a very valuable practice, it can sometimes be taken too far!

Tutor Spotlight: Clint


Today’s tutor in the spotlight is Clint!

Clint is a second year Master’s student in English Literature with a concentration in Medieval Studies expecting to graduate in May. He began his writing center career in 2012 at Sam Houston State University while completing his Bachelor’s degree. While working at Sam Houston State University’s Writing Center, Clint earned his level 3 Master Certification through CRLA. He started his Master’s degree in the Fall of 2015 and began work at the Graduate Student Writing Center last Fall. He currently teaches Freshmen Composition. He intends to pursue his PhD in Medieval literature, primarily focusing on Anglo-Norman and Early Middle English manuscripts, following graduation. During the interludes between working on his thesis, tutoring, and preparing for class, Clint enjoys the outdoors of West Texas (while missing the trees and hills of the Piney Woods) and the occasional superhero movie!

Clint’s primary writing struggle is maintaining focus on a single idea while writing. He tends to get overexcited and create a document that contains multiple arguments with little cohesiveness or logical flow. To counteract this habit, Clint forces himself to create a separate document to record all of his ideas within a two hour session or during a series of walks where he uses Siri to take notes on his iPhone. Using these notes, he then creates an outline and plugs the ideas from his notes into the headings that they fit under. The ideas that do not relate to the common thread of the document get put into his “recycling folder” for future use.

Have tips for Clint on how you focuse your arguments in papers? Plan on using his  strategy to get focus your own paper? Leave him comments below!

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