Dan was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and lived there until he was five. He has been a Miami, Florida transplant ever since. He is a senior who studies political science, writing, and psychology, and his interests lie in storytelling, justice, community-building, and the intersection of art and politics. On campus, he is the co-editor-in-chief of the Washington University Political Review, an associate justice on the Constitutional Council, a Civic Scholar at the Gephardt Institute, and a research assistant with the Weidenbaum Center. He likes to eat dark chocolate almonds, go on long walks, practice yoga, cook meals with friends, spend weekends in coffeeshops and outdoors, listen to music, and dance in his room.
What brought you to The Writing Center?
I think one of the most universally valued feelings is that of being understood. When I moved to the U.S. from Argentina, I struggled to do just that: I knew not one English word, and I’d bring home F’s on spelling quizzes. But people, be they my ESL teacher or mother, cared about me and helped me overcome the aggravation of miscommunication. I joined The Writing Center because I thought that as a peer tutor, I could help others in the same ways I was helped myself: patiently and with a touch of love.
What do you like most about working with writers at The Writing Center?
I am often surprised by how deeply invested I can get in a paper that a student is writing about a subject that is totally different from what I study. I think this happens because when a student is passionate about their paper topic—be it app development software, bioethics, feminism, or whatever—I feel myself drawn to the material and the finished product. I love my role the most in those moments when the student and I work together to see that their ideas make it onto the page clearly and purposefully.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
The most challenging part, for me, is to actually get myself writing. Lately, I’ve been trying to compel myself to begin working on pieces of writing by literally forcing myself to begin typing. But it’s hard to quiet that voice in your head that screams “Everything you’re writing is low-quality!” Once I get past that hurdle and start putting words on a page, the future looks bright.
What advice do you have for writers?
Three things. 1) When you’re working on a piece, write a lot, and then step away from your paper. Distance allows you to later come back to the paper with more patience and a more-informed ability to revise. 2) Write like you speak, at least initially, since our spoken sentences often communicate our ideas pretty well. Once we see our spoken sentences typed out, we can work to clarify them and make them better. 3) Make outlines! They are so helpful! So helpful! Sure, it’s a bit of extra work upfront, but it becomes worth it when you’re writing your paper and know exactly what comes next. 4) Pretend your reader is distracted and bored going into your paper. Your job is to keep their already-limited attention on the ideas in your paper. This mindset is a challenge that will help you develop nice, orienting introduction sentences, summaries, and transitions.