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  • Annie Marks

The Power Of Silence In The Writing Center

Welcome back, Writing Center Family! It’s me, Annie! I hope you had a wonderful break full of rest, fun, and holiday cheer! We really missed seeing you at the Writing Center and we are more than ready to help you succeed this semester. To start off our blog posts for this semester, I am going to dive back into the “Fast Facts About The Writing Center” series by talking about the importance of silence during tutoring sessions.

The Writing Center staff is so excited to welcome you back!

To understand the importance of silence in the Writing Center, we should first imagine the following scenario: Halfway through a Writing Center tutoring session, you find yourself sitting across from the tutor in silence. Neither you or the tutor are saying anything or making any gestures. There is simply silence between the both of you.

When you imagined the silence in this tutoring session, did you think the session was awkward or unproductive? If you said yes, you’re not alone. I used to believe that silence was equivalent to both awkwardness and unproductiveness. So, whenever I thought of silence in the Writing Center, I believed the silence was “bad.” However, this idea is far from the truth, which I quickly learned when I trained to become a Writing Center tutor.

In fact, we embrace silence here at the Writing Center because silence is arguably the most crucial part of the writing process. Writers spend a majority of their time in silence as they brainstorm ideas to write about, write, and revise their writing. The writer only abandons this silence to occasionally think through an idea out loud or discuss revision strategies with another person.

We embrace silence here at the Writing Center!

Since we know how large of a role silence plays in the writing process, we provide writers with the opportunity to have silence during every tutoring session at the Writing Center. Each of these moments of silence are far from awkward or unproductive because we strategically use the silence to enhance the sessions. In fact, here are four ways we use silence:

1. We use silence to allow the writer to set their own pace. The writer is crafting their own writing, and we are simply there to help them with this process. As such, we do not want to talk over the writer, control the conversation, rush the session, or anyway prohibit the writer from creating the writing they want to create. While we offer guiding questions and suggestions, we are also silent to give the writer space to think, speak, or take the session in the direction they want.

We use silence to allow the writer to set their own pace during the tutoring session.

2. When we ask the writer a question, we provide them with a silent moment to think about this question and their answer. The writer needs to process what we are asking, consider how this question applies to their own writing, and decide how they want to respond before they begin to speak. Given the different aspects the writer must consider, they often will need silence to provide an honest or insightful answer.

3. After offering a suggestion to the writer, we give them space and time to think about the suggestion. The writer will need to decide whether this suggestion will work with their vision for their writing and how they want to put this suggestion into place. Once they have decided how they want to apply or change this suggestion, they can discuss strategies to do so with us.

We give the writer time to think about and apply our suggestions.

4. Not only do we give the writers time to ponder on and discuss our suggestions, but we also give them silence to apply these suggestions. The writer can make this improvement or adjustment to their writing during the session, which allows them to ask questions about the suggestion, determine if they are on the right track, and receive direct feedback on whether or not the suggestion improved their essay.

We would love if you stopped by the Writing Center this week to see how beneficial silence can be to your writing process. If you’re interested, you can schedule an appointment here!

When you click on the above link, you’ll find we have three options for Writing Center appointments. You can 1) schedule an online appointment to meet face-to-face with a tutor, 2) schedule an online chat to meet virtually with a tutor, or 3) schedule a correspondence appointment to upload a paper and receive feedback from a tutor within 24 hours. We offer the face-to-face and online sessions on Mondays - Thursdays from to 4 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We also offer online sessions on Mondays - Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Schedule an appointment at the Writing Center and see how beneficial silence can be!


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