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  • Casey Kellogg

Is Writing Overwhelming?

When I was first hired as a tutor almost two years ago, I distinctly remember thinking one thing: “What have I done?”

As an English nerd (the hopeless kind that perfects the art of reading under the covers with a flashlight), I was used to writing. I was used to my friends asking me to look over their paper because that was “my thing.”

And so, when college rolled around, the MC Writing Center seemed like the natural choice.

But suddenly, I was sitting across the table from complete strangers, strangers who stared back at me with raised eyebrows and expectant eyes, as their unfinished essay sat between us. I remember smiling at them, asking what they wanted to work on, and praying that when I read their paper out loud I wouldn’t stutter. (I almost always did… and often still do).

I remember doubting the grammar rules I had memorized in my sleep, the citation formats that I’d known since 9th grade, the organization tips, the brainstorming strategies--in short, everything from prepositions to my ability to read.

It didn’t matter that I had been trained for this position, or that writing was as much a part of me as my arm. I was convinced: my life was a lie. I had somehow convinced the world I was good at writing, only to suddenly reveal my true self on my first day as a tutor, the hidden Casey that couldn’t form a sentence to save her life.

“What. Have. I. Done?”

The funny thing is, after two years of doing this, there are still moments in which that same feeling of panic comes over me.

These are the moments when I trip over my own words, when I’m sure that I’ll never write again because whatever talent I once had has clearly evaporated. In moments like these, my own incapability breathes down my neck.

But these are the moments that have taught me the most, as a tutor, a writer, and a human being.

Because somewhere between panicking and changing my major, I eventually stop waiting for the perfect words. I stop hoping for pixie dust to fall onto the page, and I just write. And as words slowly, painfully begin to flow, I am again reminded that the best way to finish is to start and the best way to fail is to be bold while doing it.

At the end of the day, we tutors aren’t all that different from our students. We sit beside you in math class and wonder how you got to be so smart, we sit across from you in the writing center and hope we’re telling you the right things in the best possible ways. We sometimes stare down at the page and beg the words to arrange themselves in something we hope resembles an essay.

So the next time you’re reading through your half-finished essay and find yourself thinking, “What have I done?” I invite you to come see a group of hopeless English nerds who have been there, know exactly how it feels, and will gladly walk beside you through this terrifying thing we call writing.

Schedule an appointment today at

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