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Main Library Writing Place Consultation FAQ

What is the Writing Place?

At the Writing Place, our trained peer consultants work collaboratively with you to serve as a sounding board for ideas and feedback at any stage of the writing process. Looking for someone to bounce ideas off of during the brainstorming phase? Want a fresh set of eyes to help review the structure of your argument? Putting the finishing touches on a final draft? No matter where you are in the writing process, our consultants are here to help you hone your writing by acting as a live audience so you can test out your ideas. Through one-on-one appointments, we offer a space where you and a consultant can discuss what works in your writing and why, how to strengthen any weak spots, and how to develop an eye for critiquing your own work with an outside perspective.

The Writing Place is located in Room 2305 on the second floor of Main Library, but you can also book an online appointment if that’s more convenient for you. (We understand that sometimes you just want help without having to get out of bed.) To book an appointment, just visit www.writing.northwestern.edu and follow the instructions.

How are consultations being conducted during distance learning?

As long as Northwestern is conducting classes only by distance learning, all Writing Place consultations will be held online, using a combination of Zoom and Google Docs.  For instructions on how to prepare for and launch your online appointment, view and download our online protocol here.

What types of writing can I bring to the Writing Place?

If you are working on an assignment that involves any form of writing, our consultants can help provide feedback! This includes academic papers, creative works such as poems or screenplays, and even speeches or PowerPoint presentations. You are also welcome to bring in work that isn’t related to class, such as resumes, cover letters, blog posts, or other personal writing.

Which location of the Writing Place should I go to?

The Writing Place has three locations.

  • The Main Library Writing Place is available to anyone in the University. The consultants are advanced undergraduates who are trained to work with writers. The location is University Library, Room 2305.
  • The Graduate Writing Place is available only to graduate students and faculty. The consultants are advanced graduate students who are trained to work with longer and more complex graduate work.
  • The SPS Writing Place primarily serves the School of Professional Studies and programs on the Chicago campus; however, any graduate students and faculty may make an appointment there. The consultants are professionals and advanced graduate students.

All three locations offer both face-to-face and online appointments.

How do I make a Writing Place appointment?

Click on the “Create a Login & Make Appointments” hyperlink located on  writing.northwestern.edu landing page. Please read the instructions and tips on the Writing Place appointment log-in page for additional details about appointments and scheduling. Before making an appointment, you must register for an account using your Northwestern email address. This will become your Writing Place log-in.

Once registered or logged in, you’ll arrive at the Writing Place schedule for the current week.  You can select your eligible location from the drop down menu and then see which tutors are available during our operating hours: unavailable time slots are blue and available slots are white.

Once you select an available time slot, choose whether you want a face-to-face or online appointment and fill in details about your assignment or project. You can also attach a draft of your text for your consultant to preview if time allows. You will receive an email confirming your appointment shortly thereafter.

How long an appointment should I book?

The best length of an appointment largely depends on your own and your consultant’s availability, as well as the focus of your session. Shorter appointments (30 minutes) should be reserved for workshopping texts of 3 pages or less. With longer texts (10 pages +), consider booking 60 minutes or multiple appointments. For longer texts, you should also plan your session to focus on a section of the writing rather than the full document.  

Can I drop in for a session without an appointment?

The Writing Place welcomes walk-ins to any of our three locations within our operating hours, as long as there is a consultant available.

The drop-in option is particularly useful for students who have already pre-scheduled their maximum number of weekly appointments. Even if you have reached the maximum, you may take advantage of an open slot as a drop in. Once you arrive, your consultant will register the appointment in our system.

The drop-in option is also useful if our online scheduler prevents you from scheduling a last minute appointment because the start time of the appointment slot has already passed. If you see that a consultant is currently available ( a light gray box), you may drop by the Writing Place to take advantage of that time. Once you arrive, your consultant will register the appointment in our system.

 

How do I sign up for a spot on the Writing Place wait list?

If no appointments are available for the day you want to visit  the Writing Place, consider using the wait-list feature on the Writing Place schedule. You can sign up on the wait list for a specific appointment time or for a whole day. Then, if a client who has already booked an appointment cancels, you will receive an email and/or text message informing you an appointment is now free for you to book.

To sign up for the wait-list, click on the waiting list link at the bottom of the calendar for the day that you want an appointment.

A pop-up window will prompt you to specify which tutor you prefer working with (if any) and what range of appointment times you would like to be informed about. You can also elect to be informed via text message.

 

What is the procedure for a face-to-face appointment?

If you have scheduled a face-to-face appointment, please bring your document, assignment prompt, and any other relevant materials to the Writing Place at the time of your appointment. Your consultant will ask you what you want to accomplish in the session and then you or your consultant will read the paper aloud and identify issues to discuss. You will be in control of making edits and changes during the session. At the end of the session, your consultant will write you an email summarizing what you have accomplished.

What is the procedure for an online appointment?

For online appointments, you will work synchronously with a consultant on Zoom and Google Docs For instructions on how to prepare for and launch your online appointment, view and download our online protocol here.

What happens during a Writing Place appointment?

A Writing Place appointment typically begins with a conversation between you and your consultant. The consultant would like to learn more about you,  your writing assignment or project, and your desired goals for the session.  During this conversation, you and your consultant will agree on a plan for the session.

As you and your consultant work through the paper or section, one of you will typically read the text out loud. Reading out loud serves two important purposes:

(1) It allows the writer and consultant to experience the text in a new way–through hearing it–and  allows both parties to identify things that don’t sound right or that raise questions. 

(2) It ensures that both the consultant and writer are working collaboratively throughout the session.

During this process, your consultant will encourage you to take notes on your paper or make revisions on the spot. It’s fine for you to take a few minutes to write on your own during the appointment. Your consultant is happy to give you that time. If you primarily want to work on sentence-editing and correction, your consultant will guide you through this process rather than do it for you.

At the end of the appointment, your consultant will identify next steps for you to continue working on your writing. Your consultant will send you an email summarizing what you have accomplished and, if relevant, pointing to additional resources. All the Writing Place follow-up emails to you are also archived and available to you within your account at on the Writing Place appointment website. 

Printable Resource – Preparing for an Appointment

Will the Writing Place proofread my paper for me?

Writing Place consultants are not primarily editors or proofreaders, but attentive readers who are trained to engage you in a conversation about your writing. However, if you would like to work with the Writing Place on proofreading your paper, and we will read through the paper with you, help you make corrections, and engage you in conversation about grammar and style. Because proofreading and correcting errors can be time consuming, you may need multiple appointments to get through your paper. If you are looking solely for proofreading and editing, we can recommend editors whom you can pay.

Should I keep my Writing Place appointment if I haven’t finished my paper?

The short answer is “yes.”

Writing Place consultants are equipped to help you at any point in the writing process. A consultation while you are stuck or challenged by your assignment can be fruitful. It can expose underdeveloped ideas or leaps of logic that make it hard to follow your argument. Instead of waiting for your document to be fully “finished,” but ridden with complex knots, come in with whatever you’ve completed. A consultant can help you catch issues before they become worse.

That being said, the decision to cancel your Writing Place appointment depends on whether you feel prepared to take advantage of the session. If you do not, we appreciate you canceling well ahead of time (at least 12 hours in advance), which frees the appointment slot for another student’s benefit.

How do I cancel my appointment?

If you need to cancel an appointment, please cancel early.  Late cancellations limit other students’ opportunity to take advantage of that appointment time. We ask that you cancel at least 12 hours in advance, using our online system. To do so, log into your Writing Place account, click on your appointment slot, and click the “cancel” button.

If you are canceling your appointment less than 12 hours in advance, the “cancel” button will not be available. Please email your request for a late cancellation to writingplace@northwestern.edu. Note that multiple late cancellations may result in your account being disabled.

What happens if I don’t show up for or cancel an appointment?

If you miss an appointment without canceling, we mark you as a “no show” and the system automatically disables your account. To restore your account, you will need to email writingplace@northwestern.edu to ask an administrator to retrieve your account. We will typically reinstate your account within a day, unless you have missed many appointments. We decide when to reinstate those accounts on a case-by-case basis.

To avoid this problem, please note your appointment on your calendar or planner as soon as you make the appointment–and then show up. If you cannot come to the appointment, you may cancel it online up to 12 hours in advance.  If you are canceling less than 12 hours in advance, please email your request for cancellation to the Writing Place at writingplace@northwestern.edu.

What are the limitations on how many appointments I can book?

All students are eligible for 2 hours of appointments/week. The daily limit is 1 hour. You may book those appointments in advance. If you need additional appointments in a specific week, you may email your request to the Writing Place (writingplace@northwestern.edu) or drop in for an appointment during any hours that a schedule shows as available/unbooked.

How do I contact the Writing Place?

The best way to contact the Writing Place is by email at writingplace@northwestern.edu. You may also try by phone at 847-467-2791. However, you may have to leave a voice message because our tutors will not interrupt a tutoring session to answer the phone.