Write your Ship!

Cornell Writes! Tips from our community of writers is a digital newsletter sponsored by the Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines and the Cornell University Graduate School.

Each week, a member of our writing community – a Graduate Writing ServiceEnglish Language Support Office, or Cornell Writing Centers tutor; a writing specialist from the Knight Institute; a writing instructor from our First-Year Writing Seminars or Writing in the Majors programs; maybe YOU – will share a writing strategy from their own writer’s toolkit. #writelikeabear

Contact Tracy Hamler Carrick with questions and ideas.

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Meet Tracy Carrick

Hello Cornell writers! My name is Tracy Carrick. I’m a writing teacher, writing tutor, and director of the Knight Institute’s Writing Workshop and Graduate Writing Service. I am also a writer and editor. Right now, I am preparing to STOP writing for a couple of weeks. 

Here is this week’s Writing Tip!

As we move out of the academic year, some writers find the unstructured time of the summer months liberating -- without classes or meetings or office hours or lectures, we can float comfortably through still waters of freedom, and, propelled by intrinsic motivation (and likely a few deadlines), our fingers glide over keyboards, and we draft.

Other writers, or maybe all writers some of the time, drift.

Perhaps muscles are sore or weak. Perhaps the water is dark or rough.

If you find yourself at sea, or when you suspect that you might have some difficulty staying on course, don’t try to keep paddling the kayak or steering the canoe on your own.

My mom, albeit not a swimmer, has always urged me not to go out on the water alone, and that is my advice to you. That promising summer sun can shine generously on your seascape in one minute and reflect and refract the light in the next, so set sail with a crew that can help you navigate summer drift, and if needed, “right your ship.”


  • Find a space. Look for a busy space, like a library, café, museum, or park, where others gather to create. Maybe find multiple locations, even destinations, and visit different places throughout the summer. Maybe establish a routine schedule.


  • Create or join a writing group. Set writing goals together to leverage motivation and accountability.  Follow link to sample Activity Log for Writing Groups


  • Talk about what you wrote. What do you feel good about? What are you struggling with? What are you excited about? What worries you? Just ask someone to listen.


  • Read other writers’ works in progress and have them read yours. Request specific feedback – direct them to clunky, pivotal, or un(der)developed passages; ask them to look for what is missing or overdone; work together to identify next steps. Look for how you can learn from what they wrote and ask them to tell you more about what they did and why. Follow link to sample Peer Review Tools


  • Consult with professional writing tutors. Follow these links for more information about the Knight Institute’s Summer Tutoring Programs and to schedule appointments during Cornell’s 6-week summer session (June 20 – August 1): Cornell Writing Centers & Graduate Writing Service.

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