You’ve Gotta Put Your Behind in Your Past: Disney and the Hard-but great-Knock UCWbLing Life

By January 20, 2014Peer Writing Tutoring

Working at the UCWbL has driven me to find inspiration literally everywhere.  From music, to popular culture media, to movies and television shows, I have begun to look everywhere for obscure references that can assist me in appointments.


As a new addition to the center, this is sort of a necessity, especially since I have been (figuratively) thrown off by more than a few appointments.  As much as we wholeheartedly love what we do, working will inevitably leave us all thirsty for the occasional bout of inspiration or motivation to not only trudge through the mud of appointments, but do our absolute best too.

And what better way to motivate yourself than with some classic Disney movie music?

1. It never hurts to prepare a little before an appointment! Of course, none of us are looking to overthrow our rulers in a tyrannical fashion (we love our Heads, do we not?), but let it not be said that the Lion King’s Scar didn’t know what he was doing when he insisted that preparation was key.

“I know it sounds sordid but you’ll be rewarded
When at last I am given my dues!
And injustice deliciously squared
Be prepared!”

© Disney. The Lion King 1994

Personally, I’ve found that preparing for my appointments, even if it’s simply coming to work five to ten minutes early, always gets me in a better mindset.  After a grueling day of class and a long to-do list to accompany it, I am not always the most mentally prepared for work.  But, writers deserve our 100%.  It is of course difficult to leave our personal issues behind, but, as Scar puts it,

“Of course, quid pro quo, you’re expected
To take certain duties on board…”

Bare your teeth and ambitions in preparation for those appointments!

2. That being said, sometimes no amount of preparation can give you quite the right amount of motivation to give it your all in an appointment.  Personally speaking, there have been many work days where I was thoroughly unmotivated to work deeply with writers, and that is incredibly disappointing.  We are all lovers of writing, and helping writers is a part of our job description.  Sometimes, though, the motivation to provide our best escapes us.

So, to get excited about hard work, Mulan’s “Be a Man” may just do the trick!

“Let’s get down to business
To defeat the Huns [or more appropriately: this appointment]!”


© Disney. Mulan 1998

There are no shortcuts in the writing process, and that includes the revision process.  It requires the utmost attention from all those involved, and that includes tutors.  It’s hard, grueling work to churn out written pieces and articulate one’s thoughts.  It’s even more grueling to ensure that a writer is achieving just that.  Ultimately though, it is an incredibly rewarding process, and the results are nothing in comparison to the journey.


©Disney. Mulan 1998

The result is always worth it! So staying persistent and attentive, like Mulan here, will not only benefit the writer, but yourself too!

3. Now, many experienced UCWbLers have enlightened me to the importance of trusting my instincts when it comes to providing advice for revision; however, that should not mean condescending to any writer that steps in our doors.

None of us would like to be the Little Mermaid’s Ursula after all.

“And I fortunately know a little magic
It’s a talent that I always have possessed
And dear lady, please don’t laugh
I use it on behalf
Of the miserable, the lonely, and depressed (pathetic)…

Yes I’ve had the odd complaint
But on the whole I’ve been a saint
To those poor unfortunate souls”

disney4© Disney. The Little Mermaid 1989

One of the first, and by far of the most important, ideas taught to me when I entered the UCWbL was that writers should not feel obligated to follow our revisions word for word.  In fact, it is often  the case that tutors should ask open-ended questions so that writers may brainstorm and formulate opinionated (but strongly-supported) arguments on their own.  While we should always trust the advice we provide them, it is a disservice to our writers if we get to a point where our ideas are the only ideas.


©Disney. The Little Mermaid 1989

Yes, I do believe we can expect some form of willingness to listen to our opinions, but our advice is not law.  So it’s always better to refrain from pulling out the figurative contract of superiority.

4. Sometimes, no amount of preparation, motivation, or attention to the writer’s needs can prepare both writer and tutor for some assignments.  When it comes to academic writing, the most difficult part may just be understanding what your prompt is asking of you.  It can be unnerving for writers when the very prompt confuses them, and if they seek a tutor out to clarify things…

Well, things might end up looking like this.


© Disney. Tangled 2010

Or perhaps this.


© Disney. Tangled 2010

It is situations such as these that truly throw me off in appointments- I am never sure if the advice I am providing coincides with the prompt or is ridiculously far off course.  As a result, both writer and tutor proceed cautiously through the assignment, and that can sometimes lead to equivocal writing.

Nevertheless, it is crucial as tutors to make the appointment as beneficial to the writer as possible, and sometimes that can mean taking a leap of faith.  This of course does not mean you should endorse aimless writing, but it does mean it’s time to use outside resources.  Consulting other students who may have taken your writer’s class, or even suggesting the writer contact their professor for more details are always great places to start.

This cannot not be done, though, without first attempting to analyze a prompt or assignment together.  Working with your writer’s knowledge of the class to detect what exactly a prompt is asking is crucial.  After that, brainstorming and drafting concrete ideas can begin to clear up the muddiness of the prompt, and motivate you to continue pushing through.

Eventually, you and your writer will feel like Rapunzel from the more recent Disney movie, Tangled.

“And at last I see the light
And it’s like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it’s like the sky is new
And it’s warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted”


 © Disney. Tangled 2010

(That is the stance of victory.)

While answering difficult prompts can be frustrating, working with writers to decode convoluted questions and create some semblance of a direction is all part of the process.  Ultimately, if the process was rewarding, then so will be the result.  Helping a writer gain confidence in their work is what can make a weak appointment strong.  And victory for you and your writer oh so sweet.

These were just four examples of classic Disney songs that can work their way into your perpetually UCWbLing heart, but there are always other sources to draw motivational inspiration from.  What motivates you to get re-excited about writing and tutoring/fellowing?