Writing retreats are a wonderful thing…if you can afford them. Some charge a fee, while others – to successful applicants – provide a free place to write. And, the holy grail of residencies offer a stipend. But, even if you’re one of the lucky ones to find a place on a residency where room and board is included, there are still expenses.
Let’s pretend you’ve been granted a month-long writing residency in a gorgeous location run by stellar individuals with a successful mentorship track record. How much is this experience going to cost you?
If you’re working a job that lets you have a month of annual leave, then that is helpful. You’ll only need to pay the costs of the residency, as you’ll still be paid for the month. But what if you are living in a country where annual leave is not guaranteed? Or, you haven’t saved enough time off to take an entire month, and you will not be paid while away.
If you are in this situation, and will not receive holiday pay while on the residency, you should also account for lost wages. In other words, you still have to pay rent, utilities, and student loans while you are gone. You could rent your flat out for the month; perhaps put it on AirBnB. But what if you don’t have any takers?
Here’s a breakdown of costs for a month in a residency if you do not receive holiday pay while away:
£100 Council tax
£282 Existing Debit**
If you are a single person with average credit card debit (note these figures do not include student load debit) you need at least £1247 each month to survive. Which means, you must have this same amount covered while you are away.
COST OF RESIDENCY***
Travel: This, of course, can vary depending on the location of the residency. But, as the average Brit spends £372 per week on travel and accommodation while on holiday, we can base some of our figures on this. Let’s assume that room is included in the residency, which will cut down costs significantly. Therefore, let’s, for argument’s sake, put travel at £370.
Extras: The average Brit spends £227 a week during a holiday, not including hotel and travel. ‘But, this isn’t a holiday,’ you say. True. However, once you’re at that lush location, I dare you not to have a ‘holiday mentality’. Plus, do you want to be the one person that doesn’t go out for tapas, or not take that inspirational day trip , because it’s not in the budget? So, let’s take the average and budget £454 for expenditures during the residency.
Total Cost of a month long writing residency, if you have annual leave entitlement: £824
Total Cost of a month long writing residency, if you do NOT have annual leave entitlement: £2071
Plus, these are figures for those residencies in which room and board are included, and that do not charge a fee. Therefore, the costs can go up significantly if fees are involved.
UNDERSTANDING THE DATA
What does this mean?
It seems like only those who are wealthy – or have been saving for a very long time – can attend these writing residencies. Which then suggests, those of us slogging it through day jobs, barely able to make ends meet, will never be afforded the time to break away from the monotony and write that novel: thus never completing the novel, thus never breaking away from that day job, thus never fulfilling our dream to be a writer.
It’s a sad state of affairs…or is it?
A dear friend of mine, Emilie Staat, has found a way out of this cycle. She is crowdsourcing her writing residency through GoFundMe. She is hoping to raise $2500 so that she can defray the costs of attending a month-long writing retreat, and finally finishing her memoir.
So far, it seems to be working. She’s raised $500 in just a couple of days. Dear Emilie may have discovered the ticket to funding a writing goal.
*Monthly expenditures are an estimation of living expenses in Britain as found at Internations.
**AllAboutMoney states that the average Brit has £7,903 in debit. If the average rate of a credit card is 17.2% and it takes three years to pay off that debit, the average person will pay £282.55 a month is debit.
***These travel figures are collated from stats provided Confused.com.