Learning Commons

Writing Assistance

Writing as an Ongoing Process

Everyone can become a stronger writer. There are many different types of writing based upon variations among academic disciplines, professional fields, or even between assignments within the same course. The key is to think about writing as an ongoing process, involving an initial draft, seeking feedback, refining the writing, and seeking additional feedback.

Mind Mapping

Sometimes one of the greatest obstacles to writing is getting beyond the blank screen or page. Using a mind mapping strategy can help you brainstorm and organize your thoughts. Mind mapping is also an excellent way to "self test" in preparation for an exam: choose a concept and explain the concepts and connections via a mind map. To learn more about this strategy, check out our YouTube channel on mind mapping, created by a Technology Assistant in The Learning Commons.

Writing as a Collaborative Process

It can be challenging to step out of our "own head" to evaluate our writing. This is where collaboration can be extremely helpful. One of the best resources for this active, collaborative process at USM is the team of Writing Assistants available to any current USM student.

Our Writing Assistants can help students with any aspect of the writing process, including:

  • Creating an outline for the paper
  • Reviewing the structure and content of the first draft
  • Identifying issues with grammar and sentence structure
  • Providing feedback on the final draft of the work

Writing Assistants do not serve as editors of students’ papers.  Rather, they assist students in a manner that moves along the writing process, and strengthens the students’ own skills and confidence with writing.  Students should arrive at appointments with a description of the original assignment, a first draft if possible, and a willingness to be open to feedback.To schedule an appointment with a Writing Assistant at the Portland, Gorham, or Lewiston-Auburn campuses, or to learn more about working with a Writing Assistant, visit our Writing Assistants website.

Additional ways to make writing a collaborative process include:

  • Reviewing drafts of your work with your faculty during office hours
  • Providing peer review with another student in the course
  • Forming and participating in a "writing group" with peers who are also invested in becoming stronger writers

Other Writing Resources

  • The Center for Writing Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne compiled an excellent resource called The Writer's Workshop: Writer Resources. This includes a grammar handbook, information on citation styles, writing tips, and resources for English Language Learners. To access it, click here: Writers Workshop
  • One of the most frequently-used citation reference sites is Purdue OWL from Purdue University. It is updated regularly to reflect any changes in APA or MLA format.