Destination: Travel Writing!

Have you ever wanted to write about the experiences you’ve had when you’ve travelled? Maybe you went to Punta Cana this past summer, or England on your Jan Term. How can you let someone know what your experiences were really like? The answer to that question is: travel writing.

Travel writing is a genre of nonfiction writing in which “the narrator’s encounters with foreign places serve as the dominant subject.” This means you can write about exploration, adventure, or the great outdoors! But you can also write about not-so-glamorous experiences, like riding the broken-down metro or getting lost in the back alleys of Budapest. Anything that’s a “travel experience” is fair game. It’s also important to note that you don’t have to travel far to have a meaningful travel experience. You can travel write about your hometown: What is there to do? What aspects of the town do people first notice? What’s the attitude of the people like? Your backyard is someone’s travel spot!

Not your literal backyard, though.

Interested yet? Well, onto the first step: travel there! If you have yet to go to your destination-of-choice, be sure to bring a journal when you do. Jot down notes about things that strike you. What are your first impressions? What makes the place unique? What is an encounter that might be interesting or amusing to retell? If you have already been to your destination and are writing about it after-the-fact, try to mentally travel back to that place, and ask yourself the same questions: What features of the place stood out to you? What vibe did you get from the people? Did anything interesting happen to you while you were there? Describe it! As an aside, your writing doesn’t have to be an encapsulation of an entire place. You can travel write about things like a restaurant, park, or mall (while eventually putting it in the larger context of the place—but we’ll get to that!).

Next, organize your notes. For travel writing, you’ll usually want to have a mix of:

  • your own present experiences in the place
  • your past experiences relevant to the place
  • experiences of other people in the place
  • historical or broader context about the place

This “weaving” of different content allows you to give a fuller picture of the place to your readers. It keeps things interesting without relegating your writing to only a quirky story or an encyclopedia entry. Including people (whether it’s yourself or others) interacting with your place also prevents you from simply describing the physical features of a place, which gets boring fast.

If you need help with details and organization, check out some “travel” shows like Rick Steves Europe, House Hunters International, and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. These shows profile places visually and orally. The writers find interesting features of a place, film and talk about them, and give background information. Take note of how they do it, and imagine you’re a director: how would you film your topic? You can’t include everything, so what do you include?

Finally: write! As with any writing: draft, revise, repeat—until you have an engaging and informative piece that illuminates some aspect of your place. Do this well enough, and you can even submit to magazines and get paid! At the very least, you will have a great written memory of a place and your experiences there.

-Sarah, peer tutor

Want a book? Take a book. Have a book? Leave a book.

Our annual book swap is going on right now. There’s no better chance to add books to your collection than when you can do it for free. Right outside the Writing Center is a table full of beautiful free books just waiting to be taken home. If you have time to stop inside the Writing Center you will find even more bound beauties available. Maybe you have some books that you are willing to pass on to the next eager reader. We’re ready, willing and able to take those off your hands.



Reach for the Stars, They’re Only 7 (maybe 8…) Feet High

Notice anything new about the Writing Center? When you stop by to pick up or drop off some books, be sure to check out our new ceiling art. The stars, also hanging in the front staircase of Hill Hall, symbolize that a writer’s mind is similar to the universe, expansive, impressive, and full of hot burning stuff just waiting to be discovered. We hope our art encourages you to stop by the Writing Center and let us aid you in uncovering ideas you may have thought were unreachable. We can help. We have the technology.



Melanie, Peer Tutor

Paper Cranes

You may have noticed the paper cranes hanging in the stairwell of Hill Hall and wondered why exactly they seem to be flying around students walking to and from class on busy weekdays. The cranes are, in fact, a new installation brought to you by the Writing Center tutors.



Paper cranes are a symbol of happiness, peace, and good luck, which is why we decided to hang them in the academic building. When you are rushing to class, make sure you stop and take a look at the exhibit and maybe it will bring you some peace in the middle of your busy day.

cranes_editIt is said that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish from a crane; we don’t know if we will ever reach a thousand, but we are having fun trying. The cranes are made of recycled pages from photography books and all of them were folded by the tutors at The Writing Center.

pages2_editThe exhibit is also about process; you can see the book pages with writing processes written on them hanging with the paper cranes as a reminder that you don’t get to an end product that you are proud of without putting in time and effort. Creating paper cranes requires focus and commitment. We all dedicated time to learning and mastering the art of origami cranes (which we folded out of re-purposed books) just like we try to dedicate the time that we spend working on an assignment in order to get the product that we want.

pages_editAt the Writing Center we are dedicated to helping students improve their own writing by providing guidance during the writing process. With focus and a clear mind, it is easy to achieve that final product that you know you are capable of!

Lauren, peer tutor

Welcome to fall ’13!

Welcome to the fall semester! We’re excited for a busy, productive semester.

Last year, we held over 1,400 appointments for more than 420 students. Students from all kinds of different majors, with many different kinds of papers, find our free services downright indispensable. As our front page states, “we love to write, to listen, and to learn.” You’re invited to come try out our community for yourself; you can schedule your own appointment today by visiting our online scheduler. And a reminder: we offer synchronous online tutoring for our graduate writers and McDaniel Budapest students.

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 11.59.47 AMWe’re excited this year to hold our tutoring sessions in a larger room, right across the hall from our old location. We’re now in Hill 102, right next to the computer lab. You are always welcome to walk in and we’ll help find a good time to meet…and offer you some tasty candy, while we’re at it!

Hill 102

Our diverse group of trained peer tutors host nearly 80 tutoring hours a week and are available every day except Saturday. This semester, we’re excited to offer tutoring on Sunday evenings in Whiteford and Rouzer for our first-year writers. Get a head start on your week by meeting with Leanna or Shannon; you’ll be glad you did.

We have lots of fun activities in the works for this semester, including hosting an oversized Bananagrams game before the involvement fair, helping at the Pajamapalooza party in Ensor on Friday, September 6th, and setting up a Halloween open-mic and smores at the Ensor fireplace on October 25th.

pajama palooza

Stay in the know about these and other fun events (as well as appointment openings on the scheduler) via our facebook and twitter feeds.

We look forward to talking to you soon!

–Prof A, Director of the McDaniel College Writing Center

Report from the poetry/fiction on-demand workshop!

  • “A long time ago, there was a kiing named Gribbish Von Harold. He ruled over his kingdo with an iron fist!”
  • “Spock started to feel his sweat collect around his inner earlobe. To make matters worse, Ca tain Kirk had a sweaty earlobe fetish.”
  • “In the garden of my mind, every body loves bananas.”

Yesterday, we hosted a poetry/fiction on-demand table outside of Glar:

Flash Fiction Poster


Needless to say, a good time was had by all. All of our content was written on typewriters, which resulted in some…interesting results. Never fear, tho–the Writing Center has brand-spankin’ new iMacs for students to use when they visit.

Want to read more? Click here to read the rest of the Round Robin story!

Prof A

Valentine’s Day at the Writing Center!

We’re not just good at writing…

We’re also good at giving awesome, clichéd, and funny love advice! You know, like a love guru, but not the one in that terrible movie with Mike Myers.




For Valentine’s Day, this Thursday, the Writing Center will be sitting at a table outside of Glar from 11 – 1 to give free relationship advice to whoever needs it!

So even if you’re dealing with a pretty disastrous break-up with Ryan Gosling or having trouble getting over a crush on an absurdly attractive cartoon character from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? we’re here for you . . . as a friend.



At the table you won’t just find paper hearts (with corny love notes) and free candy, but you will also find:

1. Free relationship advice from peer tutors like…

Having trouble getting an anniversary gift for your girlfriend?

I mean, I guess girls like McDaniel squirrels. Grab one of them. Stuff it. Then pin it on her wall while she’s sleeping. Don’t be freaked out if she starts screaming when she sees it. It is just because she is so happy. Really.

2. Mad Libs!

We’ll have a ton of short and sweet romantic mad libs that you can feel free to fill in with as many body part nouns and farting verbs as you would like!

Here’s a short one I filled out:

Valentine’s Day is a lumpy holiday! In the morning, Mom makes us Panda Bear-shaped pancakes and Dad gives her a bouquet of furry flowers. At school, we decorate the classroom with red and white trolls and make Valentine cards out of paper and bunnies. We write something papery inside like, “You make my heart heave!” or “I like your squirrels.” Afterwards, we drink swag-like punch, eat heart-shaped ravens, and play games like hide and go chop, and even barf the tail on the Eatery. I love Valentine’s Day! (Mad Lib courtesy of

If you’re about to ask the two questions that I think you’re going to ask then, yes, I am a beast at alliteration and I do enjoy abusing small woodland creatures.

With that said, come and visit us at the table on Valentine’s Day. We promise not to ruin all of your relationships.

Charles, peer tutor.