In 2016–2017, Words Ireland hosted a series of nationwide public meetings for professional and practising writers to hear how writers sustain their careers. We wanted to begin a national debate on the future of literature resourcing and funding in Ireland.
After listening to discussions that took place and reviewing the feedback forms, we’ve learned that that writers want us to prioritize:
- More bursaries and residencies
- Quality information on practicing as a professional writer
- Networking opportunities for writers, particularly outside of Dublin
- Advocacy for better pay and treatment
- Greater number of well-paying print / other relevant work opportunities
In response to your feedback, Words Ireland will begin work on the following initiatives in 2017:
Mentoring: Words Ireland will launch a National Mentoring Programme – a nationwide pilot initiative that will provide paying work for professional mentors and support the development for emerging writers. Call for mentors and mentees will be announced soon.
Information and Resources: We will work with local writers and organizers to initiate a series of Writers Cafés in numerous locations around the country. At each meeting, a different presentation will be delivered on some aspect of the professional development of the writer, e.g. on income tax, bursary applications, self-promotion. In each case, we’ll try to accommodate the specific needs of local writers.
Regional Writers Networks: From the initial Writers Cafés meetings, we will encourage and support self-managing regional networks of writers to evolve. Professional writers who have good relationships with local arts officers and who would be interested in being involved in organising future meetings should get in touch. Interested Arts Officers and venue managers are also encouraged to contact us.
Professional Information documents and podcasts: based on each of the above professional development meetings, we will create a podcast of each event and create a Guidance Sheet or info document, so that all writers, wherever they are in the country, can listen back to the expert information from each of the meetings or read in detail the information and expert advice at a later date.
Information on paid writing opportunities: Words Ireland plans to compile a comprehensive list of Irish and international print outlets that pay writers. In each case, we’ll state the amount each outlet pays to writers based on actual work offered in the past. We’ll be asking writers to anonymously submit information to help us build this resource which we’ll make available to all who participate.
Venues Initiative: we will be working with a number of regional arts venues and producers to develop literature event(s) for the stage. This is aimed at encouraging more regional arts centres to programme literature events outside of literature festivals, with a view to creating more paid work for professional writers.
WordCon: we are at the early stages of developing a writers conference. Events will be devised specifically for writers’ needs, both professional and creative. We’ll be inviting literature organisations from across the literature sector to set up information stands at the conference and provide short, informative presentations for writers.
Advocacy: we will continue to advocate for better pay and treatment of writers, particularly in relation to the pilot “income support scheme” being initiated by Creative Ireland along with the Dept. of Arts and the Dept. of Social Protection.
Bursaries and residencies: While Words Ireland does not have the funding to offer bursaries or residencies, we recognize that this is a top priority for many professional writers. We will continue to advocate for greater direct funding to writers as well as time and space to write. We will also point you to residencies available from the seven organisations that make up Words Ireland as well as from other literature organisations.
Please continue to feed back to Words Ireland about what you need in order to work as creative writers. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as on our website for updates on the above initiatives. And consider taking time to research the resources and opportunities already available to writers on wordsireland.ie, on the websites of the seven literature organisations that make up Words Ireland, and the many other online resources.