Writing is a complicated business – at times it isolates an author and at times it thrusts them out into the world in a rather unprepared state. This is more true than ever in the age of the Internet, Amazon, declining broadsheet and TV coverage of books, the growth of independent publishing and the ever expanding community of commentators on blogs and social media. Publishing is in a state of flux . It an exciting period as old truths are re-examined and new opportunities appear, but it makes it a challenging time to be a professional writer as the ground on which we stand seems to be continually shifting.

In this uncertain world, the value of residencies for professional writers is incalculable. They provide space for concentrated work by offering a chance to step out of the marketplace for a limited time. They also allow writers to consider the fundamentals of their craft through discussing writing as a practical discipline with students. For students and faculty a residency provides, I hope, a fresh perspective and a report from the commercial front lines. It also offers a chance for students to meet writers working in different genres and learn some of the practical steps they can take to improve their chances of future publication. I hope as well that getting to know a professional author over a number of meetings demystifies the process of writing and stresses the importance of hard work and professionalism over background and contacts.

I’ve gained a great deal from my residency at Plymouth. I’ve had a very warm welcome from faculty and staff, support, guidance and an enthusiastic reception for what I had to offer. Having the chance to discuss writing with students from both a critical and practical standpoint has helped clarify my own thinking. Every writer needs to innovate and grow, but it can be difficult to justify the time required economically in this highly pressurised market. The residency has given me the chance to work on my own craft and take on new challenges, and for that I am profoundly grateful. Most of all though I am grateful for the energy and enthusiasm of the students which is a constant inspiration.

Imogen Robertson is a Writer in Residence at Plymouth University, and a Trustee of Literature Works

For more information visit www.imogenrobertson.com