Residencies for Writers

What is the benefit of a writing residency? Should you do a residency?

In my experience, the benefit of a writing residency is fourfold:

  1. The time and space to write—which is an immense gift, to be mostly free of the mundane.
  2. The resume gold dust they confer. It means a) you were the best among a large field of competitive applicants and b) you’re demonstrating a commitment to the art.
  3. The opportunity to network! (Maybe this should be #1).
  4. This doesn’t apply to all residencies, but in many residencies you’re given tools to build: mentorships, workshops, classes, or even just informally learning by working and living and talking among the like-minded.

If the time and space the write and develop your career with a writing residency sounds good to you, my advice to make the most of a residency is:

  1. Network as much as you feel comfortable. Networking is a huge part of a successful residency (although there are equally beneficial residencies that involve more remote lodging, they are somewhat of an exception). Especially in multidisciplinary residencies, the cross-pollination of ideas can take your work to places you hadn’t even thought of yet.
  2. Bring a variety of options to work on, such as story outlines, works-in-progress, and writing prompts, but
  3. Be absolutely flexible with yourself on what you actually get done; and most importantly, give yourself time off during the residency!

So many people go into a residency thinking they simply must write at least 30,000 words and draft 10 perfect query letters but that is a recipe for burnout. I’m a big fan of scheduling inspiration—which means I write in a two-to-four hour block every writing day whether I want to or not (once I start, that reluctance usually gets replaced by, if not inspiration, at least words I can edit later). Then after that I just vibe with whatever is available and relax until tomorrow’s block, unless I feel really truly inspired. Your system may vary, of course, but it’s good to develop one.

Ready to start applying? I’ve decided to share my personal list of writing residencies updated for 2022, below. All I ask is that if you republish the information, please use attribution. If this is helpful to you and you can afford it, I would also massively appreciate your support through Buy Me a Coffee. With enough support, I can keep this list updated (and even add to it!)

This embed might not work on all browsers; you can also access this list of writing residencies by clicking here.

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