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Meet Kacy Walz, PhD student and Walden University Writing Center writing instructor! Beth and Kacy talk about Kacy's approach to reviewing student papers, the best writing advice she has received, and a writing resource she loves to recommend to students.
BETH: Welcome to WriteCast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers. I’m Beth Nastachowski from the Walden University Writing Center. In today’s episode, I am talking with Kacy Walz, one of the Writing Center’s writing instructors. If you are a Walden student who has had a paper review with Kacy or are considering using our paper review service, you will learn a little bit more about Kacy and her review approach today. Even if you are not a Walden student, keep listening to learn Kacy’s favorite writing advice and resources.
Hi Kacy, and thank you so much for joining us. We are really glad to have you here.
KACY: Yeah, thanks so much for asking me.
BETH: We’re just going to talk a little bit about yourself today and your approach to paper reviews. And the first question that I wanted to ask you was to just to have you kind of introduce yourself. Tell us a little about how long you have worked at Walden. You know, your background.
KACY: I just started working at Walden, the end of December of this year. So December 2016. My academic background is I have a Master’s degree in English from Boston College, and right now I am working on my dissertation for a PhD in English from the University of Missouri.
BETH: I think that a lot of our students can appreciate what you are going through now with working and going for your degree.
KACY: Yeah, it’s—it’s fun, but definitely a challenge.
BETH: Yeah. Well, and I love that you can bring that perspective to working with our students because you are both working and going for your degree, which I think that a lot of our students are doing and—and really struggle with that sort of balancing of both roles.
KACY: Yeah, and I do appreciate any tips on balancing both. So I feel like I get to learn a lot as I am training and trying to help other people as well as just working with students in general.
BETH: Yeah. That’s fantastic. So, we mentioned that you work with the paper review service here at the Writing Center. And, as part of that service, you are working with a lot of different types of assignments that students submit for paper reviews. So, I wondered, is there is a type of paper or assignment that you particularly enjoy reading or reviewing—something that you look forward to or happy when you open that up?
KACY: That’s a really good question. And, I think, really, what I really like is the different topics I get to work with because there are different programs and different degree fields at Walden. Students are working on a lot of interesting things, and I think that you can really tell when a student is excited about their topic. And, then, I just love to learn a lot about something that I otherwise, probably, would not have any access to. And, so, that’s really cool. I’m not a science person, so learning about nursing and that kind of field is really fascinating to me, especially when you can tell that the student is interested in it. I think that is really cool and fun to work with.
BETH: Yeah, that’s great. So, I mean, you might have a paper that you are reading that is from a nursing student, and then the next paper you are working with, that student might be a business student, right, going for their DBA or something like that.
BETH: So, you switch between the programs from paper to paper.
KACY: Exactly, and it keeps it really interesting. And, like I said, lots of times I’ll comment on a student’s paper saying, “I had never heard about this” or “I learned a lot from reading your paper.” And that completely true, and not just something I’m saying.
BETH: That’s fantastic. I love that. I like the idea of learning through the papers, learning from the students you are working with. So, when you approach a paper review appointment, how would you describe your reviewing style?
KACY: So, when I get responses on my own writing because I, I work with other students and I always ask for help in that area myself, I really appreciate having someone who is not inside my head giving me feedback, so that they can tell me, “You know, you are losing me here” or “This could be a little bit more clear” or even “You know, I’m more interested in this, and you stopped talking about it. So I’d like you to write more or write less”—however it might be. And, so that’s kind of my approach, too, is just being somebody who is not the expert in whatever it is that I’m reading. And, so pointing out that I might be confused because, you know, the student knows what they are talking about and knows where they are going with writing. So, I think that it can be really helpful—at least, for me, when I’m a writer—to hear how an outside reader is looking at that and interpreting it.
BETH: Yeah, and I love your point that even you use other people to give you feedback on your writing. All readers need that.
BETH: What is the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
KACY: One thing that I think is really helpful is, especially write now as I’m trying to work on my dissertation, is the importance of just getting the words out on a piece of paper. I think it is really easy to want everything to sound perfect and make complete sense and be really beautifully transitioned the minute that you type it out on your keyboard. And, that just doesn’t really happen—at least, not for me. I’m very jealous of people that, if that is a thing that happens for people. But, so, not letting that kind of paralyze me is, I think, has been one of the biggest pieces of advice is just to, you know, maybe it’s not going to sound amazing or read very well the first time around. But that is kind of how you get to that next level and talking to other people and hearing what they think of it helps me to move forward rather than just stay there hoping this magical paper will appear out of nowhere.
BETH: Yeah. That’s, that’s great. And I wondered do you have any strategies for writer’s block and kind of getting over it that you could recommend to students. I know that our students, many of them struggle with writer’s block, so I wondered if you had particular strategies that you use.
KACY: That’s a really good question. I’m always kind of trying to look for other strategies myself because that’s definitely something I struggle with, but I read a really good piece of advice, I think, from this theorist, Robert Boyce. And, he basically just talks about how if you can just get yourself to sit down for fifteen minutes and write something every single day, that kind of takes away from that pressure. So, you know, it’s just fifteen minutes. You are not sitting there thinking that you have to clear out four hours or anything like that. But what I found that really helps me for is oftentimes, when I’m writing a big project like a dissertation or a seminar paper, it is really easy to put it down and then forget what I wrote the day before. And, then, so you are spending all of this time, you know, reading through trying to get back to where you were when you stopped. And, if you are doing it every single day, you don’t have to do that because you remember where you left off the day before. So, it also kind of takes off some of the pressure of trying to write five pages in one sitting.
BETH: Yeah. It makes it into a habit and kind of helps you keep the momentum from day to day.
BETH: That’s great.
BETH: Ok, so we’ve talked about paper reviews appointments, but other than paper review appointments, the Walden Writing Center has many other resources and services. What are one other service that you often recommend students to at the Writing Center?
KACY: I really like blog. Sometimes it is giving similar information of what is on our website in general, but I think that is worded in a way that, maybe, if you need more direction or just kind of want that support like—“you can, you can do this” kind of cheering on that the blog post, the voice behind the blog post is really helpful. I love that different instructors and editors contribute to the blog. You get to hear from different perspectives as well, and I just think that it is a really nice resource.
BETH: Yeah. I agree. I agree. So, Kacy, do you have any other suggestions for students using the Writing Center or for students about how to use the Writing Center?
KACY: I think one thing that I would definitely recommend is, as a sort of new hire, one of the newest hires at Walden, I’m constantly trying to find more resources that I can recommend in paper reviews and in general working with students. And, I have not gotten through all of them yet. So, you know, I’ve been here for several months, and I keep feeling like I find new things on the website that are awesome and really helpful. So I would really recommend doing some of that exploring. You might have a specific question, and you might find the answer in one resource but you just want a little more information. Like keep digging because I feel like it will be there. Umm, like I said, I’m constantly finding new things, as someone who is doing this eight hours a day and still hasn’t reached the end of our resources, I think there is definitely a lot out there.
BETH: Well, thank you so much, Kacy. This was fantastic to talk with you today, and I really appreciate you coming on the podcast.
KACY: Yeah. Thanks, Beth. It was a lot of fun.
BETH: So, if you are a Walden student, we encourage you to make a paper review appointment with Kacy. I am sure that she would be happy to work with you.
Today’s podcast is part of a new series that we are doing called, “Meet Your Reviewer.” So, if you like this format, if you like to learn more about the staff who are working in the Writing Center, do let us know. We’d love to hear your feedback about this series and what you think.
BETH: WriteCast is a production of the Walden University Writing Center. You can find us on Facebook, on Twitter @WUWritingCenter, on our blog, which is waldenwritingcenter.blogspot.com, and on our website at academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter.
Visit the Writing Center's website to learn more about the WriteCast podcast, including how to subscribe.