We acknowledge the Darug People of the Darug Nation and their Ancestors who are the Traditional Owners of the Country where much of Western Sydney University resides, and whose unceded lands are home to the Writing and Society Research Centre. We acknowledge and offer our respects to past, present and emerging Elders of the Darug Nation. We continue to value the generations of knowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples embed within our University.
Welcome to The Writing Zone, a mentoring program for emerging writers and arts workers from Western Sydney.
The Writing Zone is designed to help young writers from Western Sydney to tell their stories, polish their craft, publish their work, and build creative communities. It also offers employment and project management opportunities to emerging arts workers from the Greater Western Sydney region.
The Writing Zone is inspired by several guiding questions: Why do we write? How can writing help us make sense of lived experiences? What might be the labour of our imaginations—and how can this cultural and emotional work be shared in safe, inclusive environments? We are mindful of the complex webs of power and privilege in which writing circulates. These can make it difficult to find culturally appropriate resources and networks, especially when emerging as a creative practitioner.
The Writing Zone is built around regular writing workshops that are guided by author-mentors and industry professionals. Writers share drafts and support one another in developing writing skills, and in learning how to edit their own (and each other’s) work. Skills nurtured include how to pitch and refine creative work for publication; how to survive as a public artist; how to work with editors and publishers; how to build a sustainable creative practice; working in community with others; and how to safely navigate online environments.
The Writing Zone is hosted by the Writing & Society Research Centre and the workshop program runs for 3 years (2020-2022). Twelve places are offered each year to young writers at different stages of their careers who want to develop their practice alongside other creative writers. Priority placement is given each year to at least two First Nations writers. Every TWZ writer is matched with a leading Australian author for 1-to-1 mentoring, as they work towards a publication-ready portfolio of writing.
While in The Writing Zone, writers publish their work in two books emerging from the program: a digital chapbook and a TWZ anthology. They also experience mentoring sessions with SBS Voices, and with WSRC’s flagship publishing ventures Giramondo Publishing and the Sydney Review of Books. TWZ writers also participate in a 2-day intensive Writing Circle event—a mini-festival in which they work with their author-mentors and give public performances of their work.
So far, the writers in TWZ have produced a high-voltage mix of fiction, essays, creative non-fiction, poetry, memoir, YA fiction, screenplays and stage-plays. TWZ celebrates the power of diverse creative communities and imaginations, and all modes of storying are welcome. Due to COVID-19, The Writing Zone to date has been running online.
Arts worker mentoring
To help manage the program and support its emerging writers, each year The Writing Zone also employs a part-time Program Officer who is mentored in arts working, community cultural development skills, and project management. During their year with TWZ, the Program Officer also works as a junior editor for the Sydney Review of Books. In this way, TWZ aims to build skills that can continue to enrich the arts and community cultural development sectors in Western Sydney.
The Writing Zone gratefully acknowledges the support of the 2019 Western Sydney Arts Education Initiative of the Packer Family and Crown Resort Foundations, and the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University. We are delighted to partner with SBS Voices, the Sydney Review of Books and Giramondo Publishing.