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Good morning, everyone! I hope you will forgive me for not posting anything last week – I was off work for the first time this year and my brain was set firmly in the off position. It’s a wonder that I even remembered to eat. But I’m back in action now and ready to talk about writers’ residencies.

This is how I imagined my desk would look when I got back into the office this week. I was right... -Image by Keith Williamson

This is what I imagined my desk would look when I got back into the office this week. I was right…
-Image by Keith Williamson

To start off with, what exactly is a writer’s residency? Well, they come in so many shapes and sizes that it’s hard to pin it down but what they offer in short is the chance to take a trip away from the insanity-inducing grind of daily life to spend a few days, weeks or even months – usually in solitude – focusing just on your writing. Sound appealing? If you are living in the US, many of these residencies are free, minus application and travel costs, but you will have to make an application to let them know what you intend to do with your time there and to demonstrate the quality of your work. Most will even ask for you to give a couple of references from professionals who know your writing habits which, if you are a dedicated hermit like me, could be tough to get hold of. On the other hand, if you are in the UK, expect to pay for your residency. I am only aware of one which is offered for free and most of the paid ones will still expect you to apply and prove your worth. Sucks to be us. But you could consider applying internationally to save a little cash.

If you are ready to take on this challenge then the next step is to start narrowing down your choices and deciding which residency is right for you. A quick google search will reveal more options than you can possibly apply to and you will need to come up with a few criteria to help you decide which ones are promising and which can be crossed off your list. Here are a few to get you started.

How Long do you Want to Stay

This is how I picture my perfect Writer's Residency... only with a few less people, preferably. -Image by Ronald Saunders

This is how I picture my perfect Writer’s Residency… only with a few less people, preferably.
-Image by Ronald Saunders

At the most extreme ends of the scale, residencies can last anything from one day to forever, but most of them will be offering 2-6 weeks, so try to decide how long you can get away with leaving home for and come up with an ideal length to go by. You may have to be a little flexible but this should help you to rule out the options which are way out of your time-frame.

How Much Privacy do you Want

Most residencies will offer a private working space for their guests – that’s kind of the point. But this could mean that you just get your own room in a large building, or you might get a whole villa to yourself. Also, consider how much time you will be given to write in solitude and how much will be spent sharing meals with other residents and attending workshops or public events. No residency is likely to give you ample chance to socialise, but you should look into their exact expectations of you and decide if you are comfortable with it.

Do you Care about Legacy?

Some residencies have a history of hosting very successful authors and so having them as a part of your writing career could give you a little prestige. But perhaps you care only about benefiting your writing, not your CV/resume. If that’s the case, you should just focus on how appropriate the set-up is for you. You could even just book a nice quiet hotel room somewhere and call it a residency if you wanted, as long as you are getting the conditions you need to write at your best.

A couple of other things to keep in mind are that most residencies will not offer internet in their working spaces. Also, you will have to come up with a solid goal for your application. It isn’t enough to just say that you want to work on your writing. You have to tell them what you are going to write.

I hope you enjoyed this article – if so, please click like and follow and join me again next time when I will be talking about a few simple tricks to help you start your manuscript.

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