Confessions of a Writing Tutor

By February 27, 2014Writing about Writing

Romantic? Comedic? Filled with hardworking values? You betcha. Welcome to Confessions of –not a shopaholic– of an UCWbLer!


Confession: I love editing. 

I think writing tutors, mechanics-masters, and grammar-gurus can all admit to that guilty pleasure called “editing.” Despite our friendly roles as peer reviewers, writing tutors, or constructive critiquers, we take pride in our ruthless skill of “tearing apart” papers. We relish at the idea of red ink “throwing up” all over the white page.

While tutoring literature seems to focus extensively on how to prioritize feedback with a writer, we know only too well that grammar and mechanics are on the lower end of these priorities. But when is it appropriate to geek out about these mechanics in tutoring appointments or when peer editing?  Is there nowhere to indulge in my guilty pleasure??

It’s not editing… it’s a Conversation Partner! 

At the DePaul University Center for Writing-based Learning, we have a type of appointment reserved for ESL students called “Conversation Partner” appointments. In other words, editors, problem solved.

My impulse to edit and linger over sentence structure, verb/word choice, and phrasing can be indulged in conversation partner appointments! One of my favorite recurring appointments is with an ESL writer who has very organized ideas and explanations, and she is very far advanced in learning English. She comes to me for advice on using the right idiomatic phrases and nit-picky grammatical phrases. With each appointment, we grow more comfortable with each other and she is happy for me to interject with a suggestion for a sentence, word, verb, punctuation –all those things editors and tutors love to geek out about.

So never fear mechanics-masters, we all know deep down you love to edit. Admit it. It’s okay. Indulge with English language-learners who want to learn from your geeky-ness!