A writing residency is the trip of a lifetime for many creative writers. From far-flung fantasy getaways to rugged, rustic cabins, writing retreats offer you an opportunity to focus on your work-in-progress in an inspiring setting. Some writing residencies are competitive and come with stipends and lots of bragging rights; others are simply rent-a-room options that give precedence (or discounts) to writers and creative types. Is a writing retreat for you? Take this self-test from Writer’s Relief to find out!
Self-Test: Is It Worth Your Time To Attend A Writing Residency Or Writer’s Retreat?
Is it possible for you to sneak away from your life for a while?
- A. No problem: My obligations to work and family are flexible.
- B. I could get away for a short trip, though it would take some finagling.
- C. No way. Too many people need me at work and home.
How do you handle solitude and being away from loved ones?
- A. Solitude is my middle name. And my loved ones get that I need away time.
- B. It’s great for a while, but too much time alone puts me in a creative slump.
- C. I like being alone to write sometimes, but without my “nears and dears,” my creative batteries run low.
How deep are your pockets when it comes to investing in your writing career?
- A. To make an omelet, you’ve got to crack a few eggs (or a few thousand).
- B. I could make a financial sacrifice in order to participate in a residency—even if it’s hard.
- C. Scholarships, please! There’s really no room in my budget for much beyond the essentials.
Do you have “big,” specific writing goals that would be well served by copious amounts of alone-time (like a planned novel or a story/poetry collection) that you can set out for judges to see?
- A. Yes, I’ve got a specific goal in mind—I just need the time to be able to do it.
- B. Sort of. I could see myself tackling a “big” writing project but also keeping busy with other things.
- C. I’m not really working toward anything particular at this moment.
If you picked mostly A: Start picking out residencies to apply for! You’re in a good position to make the most of the advantages that a writing residency has to offer! Brush off your best manuscript pages and prepare to start submitting them to the residencies of your dreams.
If you picked mostly B: You may have some obstacles, but you can still make it work! Even though you’re somewhat encumbered by life’s responsibilities, you’re still in a great position to get yourself some butt-in-chair time at an intensive residency. If too much solitude stifles more than inspires, consider applying to short-term residencies rather than months-long retreats. Making the time/money outlay to sneak away to a writing retreat might pay big dividends for your future career.
If you picked mostly C: Don’t give up on the idea! You might not think you’re a good candidate for a writer’s retreat, but don’t give up hope. Writing retreats exist to help people just like you! If your submission is strong or you’re willing to lend a hand around the facilities to offset costs, you might just earn yourself a free (or nearly free) ride. Consider finding a retreat that’s close to home to avoid airfare. And if work/family obligations hold you back, apply to short-term residencies that will let you get away for a weekend rather than for a year. You don’t know unless you try!
Check out this list of writing residencies and writing retreats!
Question: Have you ever been to a writer’s residency or writing retreat? Did it help? Share your experience with others.