When Students & Authors Should Get Writing Feedback

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One’s writing process is a special and unique journey. No matter how good a writer is at writing, feedback is an essential part of improving a writer’s work. The idea of getting feedback can be a difficult one. It can be done at any stage in the process, but there are some times when you might want to ask for it more than others! Below, you will find a list of places in which writing feedback is helpful and why and how it is helpful in these particular moments in the writing process. If you are an author, then you can replace the word tutor with editor throughout this informative blog.

Starting/Brainstorming 

The idea stage is when you start to think about what your paper could look like. At this point, the assignment may still feel very vague and unclear, but there are some general ideas of how it should go. You do not need to worry too much if at first glance certain aspects seem wrong or off-track as we all progress through brainstorming ideas differently every day!

The process for getting from an early concept towards something final begins here: 

  • understanding one’s own strengths/weaknesses in order create effectively
  • identifying areas where additional research would help build stronger foundations (i e., Sources)
  •  taking advantage of the information that you are learning in your class. 

Sitting down with a tutor and engaging in a brainstorming session is a sure fire way to come up with a plan of action to decide on a theme and topic for a paper that matches the assignment that your instructor gave you. 

Thesis Statement & Paper Outline

You may have a great idea for my argument, but it’s not clear if you are covering all the bases. Some questions you might be thinking about are:

  • Is there anything wrong with how I plan to organize my ideas? 
  • Do my ideas look cohesive and well thought out, or am I just guessing what will work best when writing an outline from scratch without any guidelines as such?
  • Also does this sound like something where I need to define terms or ideas to make myself clearer?

A tutor is the perfect source to provide feedback on questions like these because they are a second pair of eyes who are not as familiar with the content in your class. As such, they will take a more open-minded approach that will allow them to focus on the overall clarity of the paper, and help you to discover if your main ideas are clear and if the flow of your ideas helps to create a logical argument. 

Beginning Writing Drafts

When you’re writing a paper, the first step is to make sure that it makes sense and has been interesting. After all this work on your part-writing can be tiring! You might have questions such as:

  • Have I proven my thesis statement? 
  • Is there enough convincing evidence for people who don’t know anything about what they’re reading or hearing from me today?
  • Will the reader still believe or be persuaded in whatever idea/thesis I am trying to prove?
  • Am I being clear enough so as not only to convey information but also explain enough to readers about certain concepts without the reader having to guess too much regarding certain points?

All of these questions are absolutely normal to consider once that first rough draft is finished. Meeting with a tutor is a great way to double check where your paper is excelling and where it could use a bit more polishing when it comes to the next draft. Plus, a tutor might be able to help you come up with a new idea that helps you to meet your writing goals with a paper even faster. 

Later Writing Drafts

As you develop what you want to say, how you plan to say it, and the evidence you will use to back up your ideas, other questions emerge in the writing feedback process. 

  • Is there a clear, logical flow to the way I am wording my sentences? 
  • Am I using too many conjunction phrases or does each idea stand on its own two feet well enough without them being attached together with other words that could denature their meaning?
  • Does this passage make sense as written – do all of these points connect seamlessly from one thought-experimentally moving into another until they’re linked by something tangible (i e., not just generalities such us “they” )? 
  • Do I have an academic tone aka is my language formal?
  • Is my conclusion summarizing everything that I said in my paper and how it said it?

The many steps that makeup the writing process can feel endless, but the good news is that if you are at this stage, then you have already made it over the major peak of the writing-an-essay mountain. Along with reading your essay aloud at this point, and potentially reading it to a friend or relative, meeting with a tutor is another good idea. By this point, many students are so far emerged into what they have written that it can sometimes be hard to distinguish what is working and what needs a bit of fine tuning. Reading your essay aloud helps you to catch errors, but meeting with a tutor is a smart strategy to help you through this phase and move effortlessly into the final writing draft. 

Final Draft

Well done! You’re finished with your final polished draft. This is when you look over your paper with a fine-tooth comb for grammar, citation, formatting, and punctuation errors. At this stage, the organization, main points, thesis statement, and conclusion are firmly in place, and the clarity of the writer’s message is obvious. Some questions to ponder in this stage are:

  • Does it seem like there are any noticeable spelling or grammar errors? 
  • Are my margins, footnotes and formatting okay for the paper’s effectiveness? 
  • What can I change before I submit this assignment for a grade?
  • Are all of my sources cited?
  • Is all of my paraphrase, summarized, and quoted information properly cited?
  • Is my Works Cited or Bibliography in the correct format?

This is the best stage in the process to enlist the help of a writing tutor to provide you with feedback because having another individual look over your work could be the difference between a stellar and a pretty stellar paper. Plus, many students struggle with formatting principals, such as MLA, APA, or Chicago; however, this is where a writing tutor can aid you with changing your format and understanding why you need to tailor your format to adhere to certain formatting guidelines. If you are going to choose any stage in the writing process to receive feedback, then this stage is the stage to choose. 

After Receiving Your Graded Paper

What should I do after writing a paper? This is an important question for any student to ask themselves because the way in which we approach our work can have lasting effects. When reviewing comments on your past projects and grades received from instructors/professors it’s crucial not only understand what was given but also why they were given as well so that next time around things go more smoothly! If you are confused about comments or wondering how you could improve in the future, then meeting with a tutor can be quite helpful. 

Of course, it is always wise to clarify confusing comments with your instructor, but if you thought you did something right but you lost points for it, then taking a paper to a tutor for clarification can be a great way to reflect and revise a game plan for a different course of action on the next paper. Reflection is a key for all writers, and taking the time to do so, even on a paper that received a high score, can really help a writer to take their writing game to the next level. 

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