Welcome to the Active Voice Blog!

Active Voice BlogWelcome to the Active Voice Blog, the official blog of the Wake Forest University Writing Center. You can find all the information you need about the Center around our main site, but this space is reserved for students, faculty, and staff to share perspectives on writing practices and processes. We hope you’ll find something here that speaks to you!

Welcome Back!


Welcome back Deacons! We are now open (with limited hours) and we can’t wait to see you! We will open with our full staff on Sunday Sept. 11.

Feel free to visit our schedule to make an appointment.

Words Awake 2!


Get ready! Words Awake is back!

Wake Forest reprises WordsAwake!, the alumni/ae-faculty-staff celebration of Wake Forest writing past, present, and future,April 8-9 on the Reynolda Campus.  There will be presentations on the history of writers in NC (including at Wake Forest); panels on literacy issues both local and national; the challenges in writing about “ISMs” (racism, sexism, homophobia, more); and how to think about and prepare for an MFA graduate program in writing.  Recent NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti will read, as will student winners of the Wake Up to Poetry competition.  Also presenting will be the student participants in the 2016 ZSR Writers Camp.  A Hall of Fame banquet and Poetry/Spoken Word Slam! are also included.  All events free and open to the public.  Come meet and engage professional writers from around the world who are here to give back to their alma mater.  (Over 25 of these authors will be out in WSFC schools on April 8 offering readings, workshops, and inspiration.)  Friday night at Byrum Hall; all day Saturday in the Benson Center.

For more information visit http://wordsawake.events.wfu.edu/ or call Tom Phillips, x 5180.

Lovers of the written word unite!

Wednesday’s Word of the Week











aa, n.

“A kind of volcanic lava with a rough, jagged surface covered with loose clinkers.”

As we toured the Hawaiian volcanoes on our spring break trip, we  saw plenty of aa lava from previous volcanic eruptions.”

“aa, n.2.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2016. Web. 16 March 2016.

Wednesday’s Word of the Week

document-152679_640avuncular, adj.

“Of, belonging to, or resembling, an uncle.”

“I spent all weekend watching Fuller House, and it was great to see Danny, Uncle Jesse, and avuncular Joey back together.”

“avuncular, adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2015. Web. 2 March 2016.

Tuesday’s Tip: In Case You Were Wondering…

Here are the five most frustrating writing mistakes (according to Grammarly) and, more importantly how you can avoid them! Read the full article to learn more.


Literary Landmarks

Fisher-FishkinsmallIf you could be transported to the location of your favorite novel, where would you go? What would you love to see in person, not just in your mind’s eye?

In Writing America: Literary Landmarks From Walden Pond to Wounded Kneeauthor Shelley Fisher Fishkin looks at just that — literary landmarks and how the places authors wrote about shaped their writing.

Inside Higher Ed recently interviewed Fishkin. In her initial research, she was “struck by the absence of sites on the National Register of Historic Places with a direct connection to many authors and works that I especially valued and I found that even sites that were linked to literature often failed to make the importance of that connection come truly alive. Might paying more attention to these relationships — and finding connections that hadn’t been made before — help us appreciate and value both the literature and the landscape more fully? I wrote the book to find out.”

From Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, Connecticut to the woods around Walden Pond, Fishkin hopes “readers of the book to leave with an appreciation of the special ways that literature can bring a place to life and etch it into memory.”


Learn more about some of your favorite literary landmarks from The Literary Landmark Association.


Flashback Friday

flashback-fridayHappy Friday! And happy national tell a fairy tale day!

Here’s a look back at our week:
Monday we shared an infographic of the top 10 most read books in the world. How many have you read?
Tuesday we pulled a great tip from the archives, written by Prof. Elisabeth Whitehead.
Wednesday featured a word of the week.
– And Thursday we shared another great graphic about how to find focus.

Have a great weekend!

Finding Focus

With spring break right around the corner, focus can be hard to find this time of the semester. If you find you’re spending 5 minutes on Facebook for every two minutes spent studying, these tips are for you!


Wednesday’s Word of the Week

document-152679_640coterie, n.

1. “An organized association of persons for political, social, or other purposes; a club”
2. “A circle of persons associated together and distinguished from ‘outsiders’, a ‘set’”

“A coterie of the candidate’s supporters worked hard to make sure the rally was a success.”

“coterie, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2015. Web. 24 February 2016.


Tuesday’s Tip (from the archives): Breaking Through the White Page

imagesToday’s tip is from the archives and comes from professor and poet, Elisabeth Whitehead.

My writing process consists mostly of trying to get out of my own way, at least in its initial stages.  I ascribe to the Jack Kerouac school of writing which says forget yourself for a while and see what clarity lifts to the surface.   Here’s what Kerouac himself has to say in the first four sentences on his list of writing essentials:

  1. Write on, cant change or go back, involuntary, unrevised, spontaneous, subconscious, pure
  2. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy
  3. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  4. Be in love with your life every detail of it

I think of my writing self as consisting of many thin layers stacked on top of the other, like strata.  Sometimes I think of it as a pool of water, churning at the surface, but still as stone below.  It is the agitated top layer I have to watch out for, consisting of the anxieties surrounding writing: looming deadlines, perfectionism, ego, fear of failure, fear of being stuck in the same patterns of ideas and images.  I’ve learned that I have to get through the top layers first before I strike something unexpected, honest, and clear in my writing.

Read the rest of this entry »

check out the archive for older posts