The Energy of an Alma College MFA Residency

By Sophfronia Scott

Energy is everything. Don’t believe me? Consider how you feel after you’ve been binge-watching a television show for eight hours straight. Do you want to jump up and get to work? Or sink back into the sofa for another three hours?

Products like Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy exist for a reason — the lack of energy is, unfortunately, too common.

As a writer, it’s important to figure out: What gives you energy? Dancing? Motivational quotes? Photos representing your book’s characters?

What saps your energy? Reading the news? Checking email? Talking to the friend/relative who casually downplays your creative efforts?

It’s a pretty simple formula. If you want to supercharge your writing practice, you want more of what gives you energy and less of what steals it away.

What gives me energy differs daily. Sometimes music gets me going (Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” never fails!) or working out before I write — endorphins rock!

What you’re looking for is that juicy feeling — it’ll be apparent in your writing and such energy can even make your work shine. You simply write better when you’re into your work and you feel good.

Once you have the spark, you’re eager to put the pen in hand or fingers on the keyboard. The right energy can fuel your writing life.

You need it internally, which means you feel well physically. You eat food that fuels you, you can move comfortably, and awake from sleep feeling refreshed. Externally, you want the energy of a supportive environment. You want to be around people who inspire you, to take in experiences that move you to write.

Because writing is such a solitary endeavor, being in a group naturally provides energy. The students in the Alma College Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program soak up the energy at every residency. They see themselves as a happy band of misfits, together in their pursuit of a creative life that their own family and friends cannot understand. To be at residency is to be with people who care about writing, especially each other’s writing.

I appreciate the fantastic energy generated by our students, an energy that continues to sustain them as they stay in communication between residencies. They share their successes and their struggles. They are enlivened both from feedback and from a renewed sense that their work matters.

If you want to partake of this special spark, apply to the program and join us. You will be just in time for our first international adventure: a residency in Venice, Italy in January 2024 which will certainly be an energetic experience.

Feel free to get in touch with me to answer your questions. Talk to you soon!