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Your Writing Residency Questions Answered!

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la muse uraniaAnd so, the first week of my writing residency at La Muse Retreat is over, and it’s a great time for reflection. You can read more about my adventures and reflections at la Muse on my E.R. Murray blog but here, I’d like to address some of the questions that I’ve been asked via social media about being on a residency or retreat.

Is it a paid residency?

In this instance, no, but I have been invited here so I only had my own flight to pay, then food during my stay as it is self-catering. This is a huge honour.

How do you apply for a residency?

Most residencies/retreats have an application form that will include a statement of intent, samples of your work, and a note on why you want to go to that particular place. This is to make sure that people aren’t just looking for a cheap holiday – residencies need people who are working so they respect the quiet hours and other people’s space.

Do you always have a specific project in mind?

I always do have a couple of specific projects in mind because I’m extremely organized and I want to get the most out of my time on a residency. Also, if I have more than one project, I can work on the one that suits my mood most as I write a lot in the day and need to switch to keep it feeling fresh. I usually time my residencies either when I’m on a strict deadline and need 12+ hours of focused editing, or just after a completed deadline when I want to start something new and need some headspace and extra rest.

Do you plan your residency? Do you have objectives to be achieved within the time?  

Yes, I have a skeleton plan but I keep it flexible. Your expectation for a residency don’t always work out how you expect – you have to allow yourself to be guided a little by the place, the people, how you feel once the day to day is removed. And being in a creative space for a long time can impact you in ways you didn’t expect –such as energy levels, sleep patterns, social awkwardness.

Do you spend all the time writing?

la muse retreat walksNo. But then I don’t spend all my time writing at home either. I spend a lot of time writing – around eight hours a day – but I also choose residencies where I can hike too. Long walks are always a big part of my working day as they help me focus and stay relaxed.

Another huge part is reading – I get so much more reading done. I don’t own a TV and residencies never have a TV or radio, but as I’m here alone and not syncing my day with my husband, I naturally get more time to read. I usually bring a few books with me but then make use of the library – the library here at la Muse is fantastic, so I keep picking out stuff that’s new and exciting. But the days seem to stretch on a residency and you pack so much in, the writing never suffers.

Any more questions? Keep them coming! I’m here for two more weeks…

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