Top 5 Questions about Artist Residencies Answered

The questions I get the most from blog readers is about artist residencies, so I thought it was time to answer those common questions on my blog.

Q. Where should I apply?

Here’s a great list of artist residencies around the world. I’ve attended Centrum in Port Townsend, WA, and Hedgebrook, a residency exclusively for women writers, on Whidbey Island, WA.

While there are artist residencies such as Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony that are extremely difficult to get into, there are plenty of wonderful, smaller artist residences. Search the list above and find ones in your area.

Q. Why should I apply?

Well-meaning people have asked me why would I want to spend two weeks in the woods writing, as if I were going to have a Shining experience (I didn’t). As an artist, you need time to work on your art, by yourself. Yes, I write at home, but there’s something transforming about being away, secluded from the world with limited internet access that forces you to focus on your writing.

If you’ve been dying to finish a novel [insert any art project], but you struggle to get anything done in your busy life, then it’s time to apply.

Q. Should I apply for a residency that requires a fee to attend?

A reader asked me this once and here’s my honest answer. Yes, it would be great to pay nothing to attend, but some residencies simply can’t survive on grant money and ask for a nominal fee from attendees. Is it worth it to pay $350 to spend a week away? If you took a vacation for a week, you’d probably spend that amount on dining out and sightseeing, so isn’t your writing worth the money?

Q. What if I get rejected?

Apply again. I was wait listed when I applied to Hedgebrook and got off the waiting list a month or so later. In simple numbers, most residences get a ton of applications. They only have so many spots per year and some really great candidates don’t make it in. Don’t be discouraged. My friend David Licata applied to The MacDowell Colony five times before he got in. Yes, you read that right.

Q. I got accepted into a residency. What should I expect?

First of all, congrats!

Depending on the residency, they will feed you and house you. Why is the food important? Without having to cook for yourself, you’re free to work. Don’t put pressure on yourself that you must complete the work you set out to do. Bring books with you that you’ve wanted to read. Give yourself time to sleep. If you want to take a long bath, do it. Expect that you’ll be writing at strange times. Some days, you may not get actually writing done, but you’ll be giving yourself time to draw, doodle, brainstorm, and just create. When’s the last time you did that?

If you have more questions about artist residencies, please leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them.

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