Mmegi Blogs :: What to Look for in Writer Residencies
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Friday 23 February 2018, 16:09 pm.
What to Look for in Writer Residencies

There are writing residencies all around the world open to writers from Botswana. Residencies serve many purposes.
By Lauri Kubuitsile Fri 02 Feb 2018, 18:59 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: What to Look for in Writer Residencies

 Most writers need to work a day job, so taking time off, set aside exclusively for writing, can allow a person to get a good amount of quality work completed.

Often residencies are for many writers at one time so you can meet writers from all over the world. Discussions with these writers will definitely expand your writerly world.

Also occasionally cooperative projects emerge from these interactions. Once when I was on a residency, I worked with a British writer to help an Italian writer translate her beautiful children’s book into English. It was a very enriching experience.

Also, the moving away from what you know is an important part of a writer’s journey and can add a lot to the imagination store house.

When applying for residencies, there are some things you should look out for.


What costs do they cover?

The best sorts of residencies cover all of your costs, including airfare, and pay a stipend. So not only will you have transport, accommodation, and food covered and arranged for you, you’ll be earning money to write.

An example of a residency such as this one open to writers from Botswana is the Goethe-Institut & Sylt Foundation African Literary Writer’s Residency Award.  As you would expect, such residencies are highly contested, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance, so take a chance and apply.

The bulk of residencies will offer only a place to stay, some with a bit of money on top to help you with transport (which you will need to organise for yourself) and to pay for your own food etc. when you are there. An example of this sort of residency is this Baltic Writing Residency.

The committee provides a cottage in Sweden for three to four weeks and a stipend of $1000 USD. All other costs must be taken care of by the chosen writer including paying for their own airfare.

Still, free accommodation in a new place can be a rare gift for a writer whose mind is open to new


and exciting experiences to renew their imagination.


What do they expect from the writer?

Most residencies are looking for writers who want to use the time for a particular project. As such, often in the application they will want you to explain the project that you intend to work on when you are at the residency. They often ask for a few pages of the work-in-progress as well.

Some residencies will want a report from the writer afterwards to explain what the person accomplished while on the residency. Most, though, will take you on your word that you have done what you set out to do.


How long is the residency?

Residencies can run from a week or two to a year. Be sure that you understand the time that you’ll be given. Of course for a residency that is far away and doesn’t provide transport, you might want to make sure that it is long enough to be worth your while.


What is required from the writer while at the residency?

I have been on residencies where I was required to give talks at nearby schools and a reading at the local library. And I’ve also been on residencies where a committee member handed me the keys to the house and then I never saw anyone again until I handed the keys back.

There is a range of what they might expect from you while there, so ask questions before so that you’re not surprised when you get there. I don’t mind being required to participate with the community in readings or other activities as long as they are not too many.

In the end, you are there to get some writing done and such activities eat into that time. But too, the residency and the community in which it is housed, would like to gain from your visit if possible, so those competing interests need to be considered.

For people looking for a time-out from their lives, here is a fantastic list of residencies to apply for. Good luck!


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