Innis Writing Centre

Knowing how to write well is one of the most important life skills you can possess, not just for academic success, but for reaching your potential in your future career. The Innis College Writing Centre can help you to improve your writing and editing skills, with free one-to-one instruction from experienced, supportive instructors.

When you finish your Writing Centre appointment(s), you’ll feel more confident about your writing and critical thinking skills. You’ll be ready to tackle your assignments knowing that you now have the tools to succeed.

What can the Writing Centre do for me?

Who is eligible to use the Writing Centre?

  • All Innis College students.
  • Non-Innis College students who are taking a course(s) in any academic program at Innis College (e.g., Cinema Studies, Urban Studies, Writing & Rhetoric, or the Innis One Program), can use the Innis Writing Centre for assignments specifically in those courses, which include any CIN-, INI- or JIX- course or JEI206H.

What happens during an appointment?

  • Each appointment is 50-minutes long, and you’ll be working one-to-one with an experienced instructor.
  • Generally, students bring a course assignment (and the assignment description) that they’re working on; you can come in at any stage in the process of the assignment, even if you’ve not yet written a draft.
  • You’ll get the most from your sessions if you come back regularly to work on a sequence of skills in a variety of assignments
  • One important thing to know is that this is NOT an editing service. The Writing Centre is a teaching service in which we use your own work as teaching material. We can’t teach you everything at once, so if you want to learn as much as possible, you should make use of the service whenever you can.

What should I bring to my in-person appointment?

We’re here to help you learn whatever you need to improve the writing in your assignments. Here’s what you need to know:

  • We are maintaining physical distancing in the Writing Centre. Please bring the assignment sheet/description (if you have one) and two hard copies of the draft you are working on, printed double-spaced. Your assignment can be in any state: an outline, notes, partial draft, full draft, etc.  You can also bring course readings for help in how to connect them to your assignment.
  • If you do not have hard copies, you could bring in your laptop. You and the writing instructor could then share the relevant documents online. 
  • f you are a first-year student, you are encouraged to bring in an essay you wrote in high school. A writing instructor will talk to you about the expectations of university-level writing, and they will identify both the strengths and weaknesses of your prose. 
  • Make sure you give yourself enough lead time to incorporate your sessions and sufficient revision/editing time.

How can Writing Centre instructors know how to help me with the content of my paper? What if I need help with ideas more than writing?

It’s actually an advantage to have to explain ideas clearly to someone who is not an expert in your field of study. The Writing Centre instructors are all generalists with many years’ experience teaching different forms of writing and working with undergraduates on assignments in all possible fields.

The writing instructor can help you brainstorm and generate further questions about your subject. He or she can also point out places in a draft where something seems to be missing, whether it is background information, evidence, or a logical step in an argument.

What if I'm getting good grades? Can the Writing Centre still help me?

Absolutely. We help students of all levels. We’ll adjust the level of instruction upward as you progress and as you undertake more advanced assignments. Even if you often get an A on assignments, you may find it helpful to consult us during the planning and writing process and get feedback on finished drafts. Or you may simply wish to learn a little more about finer points of style.

Who are the instructors?

All our instructors are experienced writers, editors, and teachers. They’re passionate about helping students to become better communicators! You’ll be assigned one of the following based on schedules and availability.

Joel’s research interests include English Renaissance drama (Shakespeare’s stagecraft, specifically), theory of drama and performance, and ancient rhetoric. Among his publications are: “Shakespeare’s Technique of Opening: ‘Strands of Action’” in Theatre Topics, The Johns Hopkins University Press; “Shakespeare and the Rhetorical Tradition: Towards Defining the Concept of an ‘Opening’” in Rhetoric Review, Routledge; “Shakespeare’s Stagecraft in Constructing an Opening: Macbeth” in The Shakespeare Newsletter; and “Shakespeare’s Macbeth: The Challenge of Reading a Theatrical Opening” in Mediaevalia. Joel’s book manuscript, A Playwright at Work: Shakespeare and the Strategies of an Opening, has recently been accepted for publication. Joel has acted in and directed for the theatre.

Over the years, Joel has taught a broad variety of university courses in the humanities as well as courses in academic writing, critical thinking, and oral presentation. His teaching method is less about imparting information and more about giving students the tools to forge their own pathways of knowledge. This can be achieved most effectively by helping students build a diverse skill set and confidence over time. Joel’s overarching goal as an instructor is to make students realize their full potential to make a difference in their own lives as well as the lives of others in their community.

Lazarus received a BA in philosophy and English literature from McGill University, and an MA in philosophy from U of T. After completing his MA, Lazarus studied publishing at Ryerson University, and has since worked as a copy editor for a variety of book and magazine publishers in Toronto. Lazarus also works as a writing instructor at the University College Writing Centre.

Cellan holds a master’s degree in second language education from OISE, U of T, and a BA in English literature from York University. She has taught writing and grammar courses to international graduate students at U of T’s Graduate Centre for Academic Communication as well as to newcomer professionals at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies. Cellan also works as a freelance writer and editor. She has written website content, educational and settlement materials, and funding proposals, and currently edits academic work by international academics for publication in English-language journals. Cellan has been the recipient of numerous arts grants for her poetry, which has been published widely in Canadian journals including EventGrainPrism InternationalThe Malahat Review, and The Fiddlehead. Cellan has been working at the Innis College Writing Centre since 2012.

Patti received her PhD from the Department of English and Writing Studies at Western University in 2019. Her research focuses on 19th-century American literature and her most recent essays appear in Studies in American Naturalism and the Edith Wharton Review. As both an assistant and lead writing instructor at Huron University College’s writing centre, Patti has enjoyed working with student writers across the disciplines and she welcomes working on projects in any academic field.

Mandy holds a master’s degree in English language from the University of Oxford, and a BA in English, anthropology, and political science from U of T. She has worked as an editor, writer, and tutor for the past 12 years, including a position as a writing instructor at the U of T’s Graduate Centre for Academic Communication. Her op-eds appear regularly in the<i> Toronto Star</i>, and her research and writing have appeared in peer-reviewed health-care journals.

Jaclyn is an educator, poet, medievalist, and long-time writing instructor and learning strategist. She received her MA in creative writing and English literature from the City College of New York, and an MA and doctorate in medieval studies and Jewish studies from the Centre for Medieval Studies and the Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Toronto. Her scholarly interests are in language, literature, translation, and the written word. The author of a poetry collection, To Suture What Frays (Kelsay 2017), and three poetry chapbooks, most recently the corpus undone in the blizzard (Espresso 2019, Jaclyn has also been published in numerous anthologies and literary journals. Jaclyn is the recipient of a New York Times Fellowship for Creative Writing, and the Alice M. Sellers Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Vikki received her PhD in English from U of T in 2004. She is currently a lecturer at U of T for the Department of English, where she specializes in Canadian literature. Since 2009 she has also taught courses on academic writing and analytical reasoning for the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Innis College. Vikki furthered her experience as a writing instructor by teaching composition courses in the Department of English, both Effective Writing and Critical Writing about Narrative. She has published peer-reviewed scholarly essays on Canadian and American literature. In 2013, she was the recipient of the Arts and Science Student Union’s Ranjini (Rini) Ghosh Excellence in Teaching Award.

Rebecca received her BA in English literature from Western University, and an MA from Queen’s University. She has worked as an editor for over 20 years. As well as instructing at the Innis and University College writing centres, Becky teaches editing in Innis’s Writing & Rhetoric Program and Ryerson University’s publishing program, where she enjoys helping both students and professional writers to improve their language skills. She has specialized in editing fiction, literary nonfiction, language arts textbooks, ESL resources, and in many other subject areas.

Make an appointment

The Innis Writing Centre is open for in-person and online appointments. All appointments are booked through the online system. Every appointment in the system offers an online option.

Masks must be worn and physical distance from the instructor must be maintained at in-person appointments. Bring two hard copies of your paper and assignment sheet (i.e., one copy for the instructor), or bring your laptop and share relevant documents with your instructor online.

Hours and Location

The Writing Centre offers limited appointments at the start of each semester, then opens daily starting in October, and February during the fall/winter sessions. We are also open in the spring and summer.

You can find us in rooms 315 and 321 in Innis College. (In-person appointments take place only in room 315.)

Take the stairs at the west end of the building, above the library, to the third floor, or you can take the elevator.

Appointment Cancellation / Missed Appointment Policy

If you have to cancel, please do so at least one day (24 hours) before your appointment through the online booking system.

Sessions are in high demand; often, we have a waiting list. If you miss two appointments (without cancelling), you’ll be barred from making further appointments for the remainder of the academic year.

More helpful writing resources

Improve your GPA with free Writing Plus Workshops

From “Essay Writing From Start to Finish” to “Exam Prep Essentials,” U of T’s Writing Plus Workshops and research and writing seminars offer a series of academic skills workshops open to any U of T student. Take one, or take them all—they’re free and there’s no need to pre-register.

Visit Writing at U of T for a complete primer on writing

Everything you need to know about accessing resources on writing at U of T. Find great  advice from students and teachers, grammar guides, writing for specific disciplines,  how not to plagiarize, and even a description of all writing courses at U of T.

Improve your English-language skills

English Language Development (ELD) at U of T Scarborough has numerous useful resources, including an Academic English Health Check to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses in speaking and writing English. You’ll also find workshops and other interactive resources to practice your English-language skills.