This event took place on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022

Many writers regularly apply for fellowships, grants, and residencies in order to buy time to work on their projects. An essential element to these applications is the “artist’s statement” that describes what you write and why.  What strategies should you use to frame your creative work for these audiences? Learn how to take a step back to evaluate your work and explain it to others. 

Takeaway Resources

Speakers: Katy Didden  

Link to PDF slides of the presentation 


  • This is the last event in the Writers at Work series! If you attended the majority of the events and think it’s worth shouting about, share this link on social media 
  • The next 7-week series is called Cardinal Directions. Register here. 

1. What is a residency? 

Example: Ragdale 

Where to find more: 

Poets and Writers 

Res Artis (International) 

National Parks 

34 Amazing Writing Residencies You Should Apply for This Year 


2. What is a workshop?  

Example: Bread Loaf 

Where to find more: 

Best Workshops for Emerging and Established Writers 

Summer Conferences 

Looking Glass Rock Writers Conference 


3. What is a fellowship? 

Three Examples: 

Wallace Stegner Fellowship  

Cave Canem  



Where to find more opportunities: 

Erika Meitner’s Post-MFA Tumblr Page 


4. What is a grant? 

Two Examples: 

Elizabeth George Foundation 

Indiana Government: Individual Advancement Program 


Where to find more opportunities: 

Poets and Writers 


Anatomy of an Artist’s Statement  

General: A five-paragraph overview: 

1—Who I am (can talk about your overarching interests) 

2—Work I’ve done in the past, list artists + thinkers who have influenced me, list achievements 

3—Projects I’m working on now/ list current influences/ list questions/ “what’s at stake”? 

4—Projects I’m working on now/ methodology/ detail work plan 

5—How I am a Literary Citizen; Why this residency in particular 



Answer these 5 questions based on Monica Ong’s “Artist Statement in Five Questions” 

  1. What brought you to writing?
  2. What makes your work the way it is? 
  3. What artists/ writers inform your creative process?
  4. What do you hope to contribute to American literature?
  5. How do you support your writing habit? 


Artist Statement Exercise 

This exercise is inspired by The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop by Felicia Rose Chavez. You can start drafting by writing in whatever form you like (i.e. a letter, a list, paragraphs, a map).  

  • Who are some of your favorite writers, artists, musicians? What do you admire about their work, and how have they influenced your own thinking about the creative process?
  • What do you like about writing? Why is it important to you?
  • What works well for you in terms of a writing process?
  • What writing projects are you working on now and/or what are you reading now?
  • What writing techniques do you want to practice/ learn more about?
  • What are your ambitions for writing?


More Prompts 

Chavez recommends close reading three samples of your own work. As you read your work through a more objective lens, what themes emerge? What sort of questions have you explored in your writing? What do you notice about your approach to craft? 

Chavez recommends the following freewrites:

  • Time yourself for five minutes and write a series of statements that begin with “I am a good writer because…” Read this out loud to yourself. 
  • Time yourself for five minutes, and list all of your fears about writing with a series of statements that begin “I am afraid…” Then, once you’ve generated the list, go back to each item and write “but I will write anyway.” Read this out loud. 
  • Consider your writing process and writing rituals. What helps you to get in the writing zone? What does it take to create the kind of space conducive to writing, and how can you create that space in your schedule?

Suggestions/ Inspirations 

While this assignment is not requiring you to write a formal artist statement, it might inspire your thinking to read some.   

Here are some links: 

Creative Nonfiction application to the Millay Colony