Writing against procrastination

How Writing Centers can make their work visible, support writers and have fun

By Dr. Lydia Wazir-Staubmann

Webster Vienna’s Writing Center organized its first Night Against Procrastination on December 3rd, and it was a huge success! The event provided a comfortable study space for students at a critical point in the semester. Reference librarians and assistants, writing center tutors and counseling center staff were available until 10 p.m. to work with students to help them make progress with their papers and assignments. We purposely selected an evening in Week 6 (14) in order to encourage students to get working on their projects and assignments before their deadlines in weeks 7 and 8. The Library offered workshops on search strategies; the counseling center offered workshops on relaxation and on avoiding procrastination; and the Writing Center held 5 sessions on common grammar mistakes, writing introductions and conclusions, structuring essays, integrating sources, and clarity and style. Fahrenheit 145, a new start-up catering service run by two students, Michael Kamberov and Marin Tikvica, generously provided free food for their hungry peers during the event. 

Student feedback on the event was very positive. Ainur Kalitova, a Masters student who visited all of the Writing Center’s workshops, said: “This is such a great service! I finally understand how to fix many of the mistakes I was making.” Our Junior Librarian, Nicole Platzer, also expressed how appreciative the students were of the longer opening hours. “Many students used the opportunity to get their papers and assignments done, with library staff and writing center tutors ready to assist them when needed,” Platzer said.

The first Long Night Against Procrastination was held in 2010 at a university in Germany after students complained about their procrastination habits. “You should open at night,” one of them said, “because this is when I eventually get started and would need a writing center.” 

Procrastination is a phenomenon that we, as writers, all know too well. Writing is too often associated with lonely suffering. Events like The Long Night make the issue of time management visible to students, who, as novice writers, might not be aware that writing can also be done in company. If writers can find their flow, unleash their creativity, and experience the success of a convincingly expressed argument, their writing can be a joy. The Long Night opens up academic writing to its more joyful aspects through company, conversations, and healthy and relaxing interruptions, like relaxation sessions. In university contexts, this aspect of writing often gets lost under the burden of assignments, deadlines, and the pressure of grading. 

This event not only supports student writers but also makes writing center work visible. It is a fun way to create an image that makes writing centers attractive to students. We have had several requests to offer the Night Against Procrastination again every semester. Maybe this will become a new Webster tradition!