The Writing Zone

THE WRITING ZONE is a 3-year mentoring program for young writers from Western Sydney, hosted by the Writing & Society Research Centre (2020-2022). The program is designed to help young writers from the West to tell their stories, polish their craft and build a creative community together. The Writing Zone offers 12 places to young writers each year - all committed writers at different stages of their writing careers who want to develop their practice alongside other young writers, editors and mentors.

While in the Writing Zone, young writers will publish their work in two books emerging from the program: a digital chapbook and a TWZ anthology. They will participate in mentoring sessions with SBS Voices, and with WSRC's flagship publishing ventures in the Sydney Review of Books and Giramondo Publishing. They will have opportunities to work closely with author-mentors from the broader literary community, who will help edit their writing towards publication. They will also have chances to perform and speak about their work to larger public audiences.

Photo by Sally Tsoutas of The Writing Zone Program Officer, Ilhan Abdi.

The Writing Zone is built around a series of regular writing workshops led by a range of writer-mentors and industry professionals. In the workshops, writers work with each other and with the Writing Zone team to develop new professional skills, including workshopping their writing with a supportive peer group. While face-to-face restrictions are in place, the workshops are being conducted online.

At the heart of TWZ is a 2-day Writing Circle, scheduled this year for 23-24 October as an online "webinar"-style event. This will involve sessions with mentors, a series of writing workshops, group seminars and public performances. The culmination of The Writing Zone will be the publication of an anthology of new writing by participants in February 2021. This will be a chance to share with our communities the wonderful writing developed through the program.

Applications for the next intake of young writers for The Writing Zone will open towards the end of 2020 or early in 2021. Watch this space!

Arts worker mentoring

THE WRITING ZONE is not just an opportunity for emerging writers. The program also enables the appointment of a Program Officer each year (across the 3 years of the program). Ilhan Abdi is our Program Officer for 2020. Ilhan oversaw the application process to select writers for TWZ and will manage the 2020 Writing Circle events. She is also undertaking editorial tasks at the Sydney Review of Books, and will ovesee the production of all TWZ publications - a diverse range of skills that might contribute to future roles within arts organisations. The Program Officer role for 2021 will be advertised early next year.

Media coverage of the Program Officer appointment on the Western Sydney University News Page and in Mirage News.

Outcomes 2020

In 2020 THE WRITING ZONE has been a great success. Writers have done hours of writing workshops, writing training, and mentoring. With assistance and encouragement from TWZ community, five authors were commissioned to write memoir essays through a new online partnership with SBS Voices, three authors were selected by Diversity Arts Australia to make new work for the organisation’s “I Am Not a Virus” exhibition in 2021, three authors were chosen as the inaugural virtual “writers in residence” for Symbiosis: Bankstown Biennale 2020, resulting in essays published with The Sydney Review of Books, and one author was awarded a West Words Emerging Writers Fellowship. Most significantly, Ilhan Abdi edited the program’s first book, Sky Conversations, published in November. The collection gathers together writing workshopped in the first six months of the program, and includes short stories, poems, essays, excerpts from novels and a screenplay.


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About The Writing Zone

The Writing Zone is a three year program aiming to create publication, editing, employment and performance opportunities for emerging writers and editors from the Western Sydney region. Over three years (2020-2022 inclusive) the project will offer places to 36 young writers (at least six of whom will be Indigenous) and 3 young arts workers. Mentoring will be provided by 12 experienced authors, three of whom will be Indigenous.

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Featured News Article

Western Sydney University’s Writing and Society Research Centre has launched The Writing Zone — a new initiative to support emerging Western Sydney writers and artists under 30 years old.

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