There are endless opportunities to make money, using your writing talent – not only with books or short stories, magazine writing or leveraging your manuscript: Dozens of fellowships or writer’s residencies or retreats are offering not only free accommodation but also a monthly honorarium.
Many authors crave one thing: a peaceful period of uninterrupted time, dedicated only to writing. In other words, a room of one’s own, with maybe some meals thrown in and a bit pocket money. Or even just the room. Such a thing exists, of course, in the form of a writers residency.
You know, these rent-free, beautiful places in tranquil surroundings, maybe in the Rockies of Wyoming, or on a wild part of shore in Maine, where you can stay for a month or more and write 24/7 without interruption, no real cooking chores and nagging children and grumpy husbands …sorry, or wives.
While some residencies charge money, many are free and located in idyllic, pastoral places. You might get a room in a mansion or in a cottage, a stipend, and most important, time to let your writing go smoothly and uninterrupted. Take for example the artist-in-residence program at Denali National Park, which offers a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan peaceful wilderness.
The Application Process
The good news: One proposal in three is typically funded! Late Winter and early spring are good times to apply for Writer Grants, which includes fellowships, workshops, residencies, travel expenses, sometimes even meals or small allowances … and not only in North America but worldwide.
Study the organization and successful grants, fellowships or residency applications. You can see the “language” they prefer and get an idea what type of projects were successful. Learn and understand the meanings of the vocabulary being used in grant guidelines. It’s important how well your written presentation answers their questions.
Show an interest in the Funders’ organization, call them for further information and find out the name of the person you should address the proposal if it is not stated specifically.
Create your proposal in a way for the funding organization to conclude it will fulfill their philanthropic mission. Offer a concise plan to fill a need or solve a problem.
Adhere strict to their guidelines, help them to evaluate your proposal easily. Your reader (decision maker) will evaluate your plan according to what you are proposing. And how your project can benefit others.
Many residencies ask you to present a work plan. Usually, no more than a page or so is required. What are residency coordinators looking for in a work plan – beyond the obvious?
The Work Plan, Résumé, and Letter of Recommendation
Why is a work plan required? “We are most interested in people who have a clear vision of what they will do with the time, such as revise a manuscript in progress or finish a book of poems,” explains Bob Kealing, who oversees the Kerouac Project, one of the more unique residencies available: a three-month stay in the Orlando, Florida, cottage where Jack Kerouac wrote his novel Dharma Bums. The real purpose of a work plan might be to simply prove that you have one. Show that you’re planning to get some serious writing done.
Many residencies ask for a résumé, a word which makes some authors nervous. Many residencies don’t require letters of recommendation, but some do. And their directors say they prefer recommendations that focus on a writer’s work ethic and creative spirit rather than the quality of work, and therefore it doesn’t matter who writes the letter as long as those points are addressed. In short, recommendations need to offer a window into who you are.
Your writing is what matters most. The writing sample is the most important piece in the application. Coordinators look for quality and originality. But what does it mean? They don’t look for a specific aesthetic, but each has a rigorous and specific approach to evaluating manuscripts. Applicants should send in what they believe to be their best work. It does not need to be published. They may also send in more than one sample and include some work-in-progress.
Research the Organization and the Residency
Carefully research each residency that interests you and make sure you understand what each requires in terms of application materials and guidelines. Visit their websites, study previous recipients and call or send an e-mail to clarify if necessary. It also doesn’t hurt to translate an application into their language if you apply for a residency or fellowship in non-english-speaking countries.
Now the Most Important Question: How to Find Residencies?
Most residencies offer artists and writers at least once a year an application period. Should the deadline be over, just mark you calendar for the next year. To multiply your chances, apply at several places. Find dozens of writers fellowships and free residencies at these websites and articles:
Poets & Writers, has a great database, for example, if you choose >free>residency>50 results per page, you will receive this list. http://www.pw.org/conferences_and_residencies?type=RESIDENCY&state=All&free=yes&perpage=50
A great resource for writers, not only for residencies but also for grants and contests is the Aerogramme Studio; http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2017/01/05/residencies-for-writers-2017/
Two weeks in the south of France to edit a book of poetry. Three months in a mill building in Massachusetts to work on a film. A year in the mountains to sculpt. A semester in Taiwan to compose. With 100s of residency programs worldwide, the choice is up to you. http://www.artistcommunities.org/residencies/directory
At Resartis.org you can search by upcoming deadlines, country, city, facilities/support, duration, setting, language, companions allowed, accommodation, wheelchair etc. The listing contains free and paid residencies, for funding possibilities they recommend a page for “cultural mobility” On the Move.
More useful lists of free residencies can be found on these websites:
Writer’s Residencies in Canada
“The Canada Council Author Residencies program goes to universities and public libraries, with community-run residencies at writers’ houses receiving proportionally less funding. This difference in funding is reflected in the honoraria paid to writers in residence at various types of residency hosts.
University-based writer-in-residence appointments are well paid (the author appointed to McMaster University receives a stipend of $20,000 for a four-month term). Public library–based writer-in-residence appointments are also well paid (the author appointed to the Vancouver Public Library in 2008 received a stipend of $16,000 for a four-month term). Writers in residence at community-run residencies at writers’ houses are somewhat less well paid (the 2010 writer in residence at Historic Joy Kogawa House received an honorarium of $7,500 for a three-month appointment, plus furnished accommodation valued at $1,500 per month, for a total of $12,000 over three months)” informs a web page.
See in detail who get’s what in an article about the Canada Council Author Residencies Grant Awards by the Simon-Fraser-University, Vancouver, BC.
Short excerpt from our upcoming book: 111 Tips on How to Make Money with Writing.