Monday, October 11, 2010

A Writer in Residence

Hello everyone

Am having a beautiful case of the mondays, I can't wait till November when i can tell you my life is "just freaking A" (Yes I love Office Space, I even studied it for a journalism class).
Okay lets get the bad news out of the way first, becoming a Writer in Residence (WiR) is a little bit difficult, even more so in the United States as compared to the UK, Australia, New Zealand or even Canada.
Now that the we've got that out of the way, lets bludgeon the obstacle in our way.
From my "research" I have come to realize there are at least 2 broad types of WiR.
1. Academic and Formal programs
2. Informal and community service programs.

Academic and Formal Programs - Most of the time you get a stipend and should ideally have some sort of teaching experience. Most of the authors I have found in these positions have also won some sort of award or the other. Most universities and colleges have this positions in their creative writing department and you can find more information on their websites. There are also Foundations like the Jack Kerouac Foundation that you can check out, for those of you in the UK check and for writer in residence vacancies.

Informal and Community Service Programs - Not to say that the authors in the previous category are not doing some sort of community service by donating their time, but those of you lucky enough to fall in this category will do it even more.
In this category they might not have a WiR program set in place already it might be up to you to initiate things yourself. Examples of places to go will be your local library(this is more prevalent in Canada),  bookstores, local schools and hotels. They will might not pay you but the least you can get out of the bargain is the publicity.

Your duties will include mentoring, offering a free critique service and definitely having time to work and finish your project, most of the programs require that you present a report when you are done with your term.

How to - Visit your local arts and council office (I don't know what this office will be called in the states but you all have one too, see my references below).The phone and the internet is your friend, check the internet for vacancies online look into community colleges too, if they don't have a program you can get them to start one up, call hotel managers up especially those who host and make money off conferences(am sure it should be tax deductible).

Lastly write a proposal and a writer's CV(resume) include what you hope to accomplish and the benefits to the organization in question, to you and to the community (Imagine if one of your mentees got published). Who knows you might become the next WiR in LAX or the Savoy Hotel or a pub, or in prisons(they have programs and will let you out even if you have a gazillion speeding tickets) or in a winery the possibilities are endless. Don't forget to consult your agent and as usual my word is not law unless you are in my book.

Hope this was helpful, I shall take my journalistic hat off now but if you have any questions feel free to email me or leave them below.



  1. I love Office Space too-- "Somebody has a case of the Mondays". LOL

    I first got interested in writing thru an author who did a 5 day seminar talk at my local library. It was really great and I thought about doing ti myself someday. :)

  2. Anything that pays me to write sounds good.

  3. Wait. You mean writers get paid?! ;-)

  4. Great info. Very helpful. Thanks, Joanna! I might look into this!

  5. Wonderful information. Good luck with your WiR hope it all works out. :D

  6. Hey Everybody stop by wendy's page to congratulate her she just made her first sale to HMB
    @Liz yup a lot of foundations out there will pay you if you succeed in getting the position and this is a good way to give back u never know whom you will inspire

  7. Congrats on your versatile blogger award!

  8. I love the office space movie too. Especially when they're beating up a copier.

    As for your job. I'm glad you have one. It seems writing but you get paid.


  9. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a WiR. I learn something new every day. :)

  10. "Somebody's got a case of the Mundays"

    Who knew there was such a thing as WiR... I'm with MT, learning something new everyday!

  11. I hope you're really getting into the swing of things as the WiR. Sounds great, but i'm sure not all beer and skittles hmm.

    Just dropped in to meet you as I *blushes* won the synopsis/critique from your kind self. I'm a very courteous person who is overwhelmed at getting something here for very little effort *clears throat* and I want to make it easy for you. So, what are your guidelines? I'm used to the HMB type of synopsis guidelines which run into a few pages. Do you want a shorter version? Please tell me, I'll be grateful for anything, but I certainly don't want to send you more than you want. Knowing how busy you must be.

    It's also impressive that yes, people do get paid to write. Great Wendy sold a story to HMB. I'll drop by.

    Nice meeting you Joanna..:)

  12. Oh wouldn't it be lovely to be a WiR! Preferably somewhere gorgeous, by the sea, with a supply of chocolate.

  13. I went to a book group meeting once in a prison - and yes, the book they were reading was Crime & Punishment! - but I'm not sure about being WiR in a prison. Being a WiR in a pub... or, even better, at Cadbury's chocolate factory would be more my kind of thing.

    I'm going to look into this. Great that some of these WiR schemes pay, too. The ones I've heard about here in the UK tend to be unpaid but good for raising your profile.


I'd love to hear what you have to say, so go on & make my day