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Wilfrid Laurier University Centre for Student Success
November 25, 2015
Canadian Excellence


It's Never Too Late to Become a Better Writer

It’s Never Too late to become a Better Writer
by Nicole Gatchene

Too often I hear my friends say “I can’t write” or “I’m in program X, I’m a bad writer.” There is a misconception that if, at one point in your life, you struggle to write, you’ll always be a poor writer. This, however, is not the case.Writing can be intimidating. Sometimes we resign ourselves to thinking that the task is impossible because of a previously negative experience. At some point during the writing process many of us have struggled more than we expected, and our difficulties resulted in lower marks.While I’m a fan of reflecting on history as a way to help us interpret current situations, history should never determine our future.A history where writing was a challenge should not be taken to be our defining legacy but a sign of how far we have progressed, and the opportunities we have ahead of us to improve. This insecurity of not being able to write well because of past experiences being a poor writer is common, but it can be overcome.

Today, I’m a Writing Centre tutor, and I help other students to become better writers. When I was in elementary school I was a poor reader, let alone a good writer, which showed in how I performed in reading programs.In my elementary school, we had a “Home Reading” program where we borrowed books from the school, read them with their parents who wrote informal progress reports, and then went back to school where we’d get more books to take out.The books were organized based on their difficulty using different kinds of coloured shapes.Students were only allowed to take out books that matched their reading levels, and they could only take out different books once their reading levels improved. The first level was a red circle, the next was an orange square, and so forth.While my peers progressed through the shapes, I kept reading red circle books.At the time, it felt like I was reading red circle books forever, and I couldn’t figure out why.It was frustrating as I struggled to read books, and it never seemed like I was making progress. To me, reading was just so hard, and I started to hate it.

This didn’t go unnoticed to my teacher who nominated me to enroll in the “Reading Recovery Program.”In this program, I did weekly tutoring sessions with a teacher for a year.With my teacher’s help, I learned about how words were put together, rhymes to help me remember how to spell big words like “because” (Bears Eat Candy And Usually Swallow Everything), and games to decipher the number of syllables in words. Over the course of the year, reading started to make sense, it became easier, and it was fun.While I was still behind the progress of my peers, when I moved beyond the red circle books into orange square books I was extremely happy. I felt like I had won an Olympic medal.

A lot of time has passed since my time as a Reading Recovery Student, though the lessons have stuck with me. I learned that asking for extra help was okay. I figured out that just because I was different from my peers didn’t mean I was stupid but that I learned differently.I realized that being behind didn’t mean I was going to be left behind.

I think students forget lessons like the one I learned. They sometimes resign themselves to setting low goals because reaching high goals doesn’t seem possible.I’m here to tell you that this is not the case.If I had assumed that because I was a poor reader at one point, I would always be a poor reader (and therefore writer), then I would have missed out on a lot.I have embraced the learning opportunities that were presented to me throughout my grade school years which then led to the opportunity to attend university and now be a writing tutor. More than anything, we have to believe in ourselves, take the initiative to make that change we’re wanting, and take advantage of the resources available to us.

While the days of Reading Recovery are over, there are numerous opportunities to improve your writing now. It’s never too late to become a good writer and make that writing history not our legacy, but our inspiration to improve.

Research: Writing Instruction at Ontario's Publicly Funded Universities

We are pleased to share our recent research publication about writing instruction in Ontario universities. Writing instruction at Ontario's publicly funded universities: A view of three disciplines offers readers information about approaches to writing instruction at the post-secondary level. This research was funded by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.


Writing Tutors in the Active Learning Classroom

During our summer tutor training week, our writing tutors worked together in the active learning classroom. The chairs gave our team the flexibility to form groups easily. They were fun, too!



For Faculty: In-class Writing Workshops

We are pleased to offer in-class writing workshops tailored to courses on a variety of writing topics. Faculty can learn more about our services here.

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Writing Opportunity at The Artifice

I recently learned about writing opportunities at The Artifice, so I'm sharing it here for students and faculty who may be interested in making a contribution.


Do you want to write about Movies, TV, Anime, Arts, Comics, Games, Literature or other art forms? Do you  want to get your foot in the door and enter the big-wide world of the online media and have your work read  and shared by millions of readers? We invite you to The Artifice.

The Artifice is an online magazine that covers a wide spectrum of art forms. We do not run The Artifice, you  do. The Artifice is collaboratively built and maintained by your fellow writers. It is structured to let you focus on the quality of the content while it deals with the exposure of it to an audience of millions.






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