Who/what are POWER Services for?

POWER Services support graduate students and faculty at Texas A&M University who:

• Wish to improve their writing ability

• Wish to learn how to write more productively, or

• Struggle with their current writing skills

POWER is NOT a proof-reading service, nor an editing center. If you need specific help with editing or proof-reading, however, don’t panic! The University Writing Center has a list of freelance editors that can help you.


Who provides POWER Services?

POWER Services consist of a group of graduate students and faculty (POWER Writing Consultants) dedicated to helping their peers:

• Gain mastery (power) over their writing

• Become more productive writers

• Become productive researchers


What is our mission?

POWER Services' mission is not to teach people in academia how to write, but rather to help people in academia deal with the common, but seldom discussed, problems and complexities of writing. Consulting with members of POWER Services (AKA signing up for a POWER Hour), graduate students and faculty alike will be able to discuss the writing process, de-stigmatize the writing difficulties faced by many students and faculty, and learn practical tips for academic writing.

In short, the goals of POWER Services are to:

• Help students transform their writing assignments into more pleasurable and less frustrating tasks, and

• Foster the development of productive writing habits among graduate students and faculty


Why is writing so important for academics?

As writing constitutes one of the most important tools for a successful career within academia (e.g., for promotions, performance assessments, peer reviews), the pressure to write well and to write often begins early. Doctoral students currently entering the academic workforce, for instance, do better if they graduate with at least one peer-reviewed publication listed in their vita, when applying for competitive faculty positions.

Nevertheless, as the research on academic writing indicates, productive writing does not happen naturally for most people. Nor does a positive attitude toward writing occur without hard work. Unfortunately, the opportunities to learn how to be more productive, and how to develop a positive attitude regarding writing, were rare, until now!


What does it mean to write with POWER?

When you schedule a POWER Hour with one of the POWER Writing Consultants, you begin to learn how to write with power.

The notion of writing with POWER comes from Prof. Peter Elbow’s work. Peter Elbow - who taught English at M.I.T. and The University of Massachusetts at Amherst - is well known as a theorist of the writing process, and as someone who revolutionized the teaching of writing. For many years, he studied the mechanisms that hinder or facilitate writing. His work began as he studied himself: when he dropped out of graduate school due to his poor writing, he began to systematically analyze the factors that helped or blocked his ability to write. What he learned since then has become a model for high quality, productive, and enjoyable writing for many people.


For Elbow, the phrase “writing with power” has two meanings. The first meaning is probably what most of us think of when we think about writing with power: powerful writing such as written words that make a difference in readers, individual lives, or in the lives of entire communities. Writing with power makes us think of writing contained in such places as The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, religious texts, classical literature, and poetry.


Peter Elbow emphasizes, however, a second meaning for the phrase "writing with power," which we highlight in POWER Services: “Writing with power also means getting power over yourself and over the writing process: knowing what you are doing as you write; being in charge; having control; not feeling stuck or helpless or intimidated. I am particularly interested in this second kind of power in writing and I have found that without it you seldom achieve the first kind” (Elbow, 1998, p. viii).