Get Paid to Write: 17 Fantastic Writing Fellowships for Authors, Journalists and Poets

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If you’re keen to focus on a long-term writing project but aren’t sure how to fund your work, a fellowship may provide the support you need.

Writing fellowships usually consist of funding and space for writers to focus on a creative project rather than the business of supporting themselves.

Many fellowships require residency in a particular city for the duration of the fellowship, while others fund international travel — but all provide financial support that enables their recipients to fully dedicate their time to writing.

The world of writing fellowships can be a dizzying one, but we’ve sifted through the options and found some of the best for poets, fiction writers, nonfiction writers and journalists alike.

The opportunities here run the gamut from fellowships for established writers to launching pads for those at the beginning of their careers. Each fellowship on the list is an annual contest, so if this year’s deadline has passed you’ll have lots of time to prepare for next year.

Wherever you are in your writing career, you’re bound to find a tempting option or two on this list that could help you pursue your next project.

Please note: Program details and stipend amounts may change; this post was last updated in August 2016.

1. Steinbeck Fellow Program at San José State University

If you’re up for a year in San José and need funding to focus on your work of fiction, creative nonfiction, drama or biography, this is a fantastic opportunity. Named in honor of John Steinbeck, this $10,000 fellowship allows writers to spend a year working on their manuscript while benefiting from the faculty and graduate-student community at SJSU.

The fellowship is designed for writers who have had “some success, but have not published extensively,” and requires a one- to three-page proposal, including a timeline, three letters of recommendation, a resume and a writing sample under 25 pages.

Deadline: Applications are usually due in early January.

2. Mother Jones Ben Bagdikian Fellowship Program

Emerging journalists who want to immerse themselves in an investigative reporting environment will be hard-pressed to find a better opportunity than this. Based in San Francisco or Washington, D.C., Mother Jones’ editorial fellowship program is renowned for its impressive alumni list. Fellows do hands-on research and fact-checking, and have opportunities to pitch online and print content.

Mother Jones offers fellows $1,625 a month for the first six months, with the possibility of staying on for six more months as a senior fellowship with an increased $1800 stipend.

Deadline: There are typically two cycles of fellowships per year, beginning December and June, with application deadlines two months prior.

3. Provincetown Fine Arts Center Fellowship

For five emerging poets and five fiction writers, this fellowship is an opportunity to spend seven months at the Fine Arts Work Center at the tip of Cape Cod. Fellows are provided with housing and workspace, as well as a modest monthly stipend.

Optional activities with other fellows (including visual arts fellows) offer a chance to bounce ideas off a community of artists, if you’d like. Visiting artists and writers are available to fellows throughout the year, as well. Fellowships run October through May.

Deadline: Typically in early December each year.

4. The Kenyon Review Fellowship

Creative writers of all genres are invited to apply for this two-year fellowship at Ohio’s Kenyon College. Applicants should have experience teaching literature or creative writing to undergraduate students, as they will be required to teach one semester each year in the English department while undertaking “a significant writing project.”

Additionally, fellows are expected to work on a variety of creative and editorial projects for The Kenyon Review. Fellows receive an annual salary plus benefits. Be sure to highlight your “achievement and long-term potential” in your application, and play up your teaching experience.

Deadline: Applications for this two-year program are accepted every other year; stay tuned for details for the 2018-2019 program.

writing fellowships

5. Loft McKnight Artist Fellowships

Minnesota writers, this one’s for you. Five $25,000 fellowships are available: four in creative prose or poetry and one for a writer of children’s literature. If you’re just starting out, you might want to bookmark this for later in your career — writers must demonstrate past publication, either a book or a significant number of literary journal publications.

The funding is intended to enable its recipients to focus on their craft for the year. Your 15-18 page writing sample will be the bedrock of your application.

Deadline: The deadline is usually in the fall.

6. Bucknell Stadler Fellowship

Heads up, poets! Recent MFA grads have a chance to focus on completing their first book of poetry while honing their editorial and arts administration skills. Stadler fellows spend their academic year at Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University, assisting with the administration of the Stadler Center for Poetry, and/or editing the school’s literary journal, in addition to working on their own writing.

The fellowship provides $20,000, health insurance, office space and housing. Poets who have published a full-length collection are not eligible for the fellowship, so this is a great opportunity for those looking to jumpstart their post-MFA careers.

Deadline: Check the fellowship website for occasional vacancies.

7. Nieman Fellowships

Perhaps the most generous award available for established journalists, the Nieman Foundation at Harvard offers fellowships for up to 24 journalists each year. Fellows spend two semesters at the college delving into master classes, shop talks, seminars and journalism conferences.

Most fellows receive a stipend of $65,000 over the nine months they spend at Harvard, in addition to housing, childcare and healthcare. This fellowship is less about making time to write, and more about the chance to benefit from a community of fellow journalists and academics before you return to your professional life.

You must have five years of full-time media experience under your belt to apply. Also noteworthy: 12 of the 24 fellows will be international journalists, so non-U.S. citizens should definitely consider this opportunity.

Deadline: The deadline for international candidates is generally in early December, while U.S. candidates can generally apply until late January.

8. James Jones Fellowship Contest

Fiction writers wrestling with their first (unpublished) novel should take note of this fellowship. Named in honor of From Here to Eternity’s author, the winner will receive $10,000, and two runners up will receive $1000 each.

Applicants are asked to submit an outline of their novel-in-progress, as well as the first 50 pages of their manuscript (so if your novel is still in idea form, take advantage of NaNoWriMo and get cracking). If you have more than one novel in the works, you are welcome to submit multiple manuscripts as separate entries. A small entry fee is required to accompany each submission.

Deadline: Applications are generally due in mid-March.

9. The Hodder Fellowship

Open to writers and visual artists, the Hodder Fellowship invites fellows to pursue independent projects at Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts during the academic year. The “exceptional promise” called for by the criteria should take the form of previously published work — most literary fellows have published a book prior to their fellowship year.

The Hodder is unique as far as campus-based fellowship programs are concerned: Fellows are not required to teach or even interact with campus life if they don’t want to. The Lewis Center looks for writers who are a crucial moment in their career when they will greatly benefit from time away from busy lives.

Deadline: Applications are generally due in mid-September.

10. Pen Center Emerging Voices Fellowship

Designed for writers who “are isolated from the literary establishment,” this fellowship fosters the careers of emerging writers through coursework, readings, Q&A sessions with prominent authors, mentorship and a $1000 stipend. From January to July in Los Angeles, Emerging Voices fellows will work on a specific writing project with a professional mentor in addition to attending organized events and classes.

Writers of fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry are invited to apply. The fellowship is not open to writers who have an undergraduate degree in English with a creative writing emphasis, or those who have completed M.A. or M.F.A. creative-writing programs. And if you’re already widely published or can boast an array of accolades, this isn’t the fellowship for you.

Deadline: Applications are typically due in mid-summer.

11. Persephone Miel Fellowship

This is a great opportunity for non-U.S. journalists who want to amplify their reporting on issues that are neglected or under-reported by the mainstream media. The fellow will receive a $5000 travel grant to support her reporting, in addition to $2500 to travel to Washington, D.C., where they will take part in a two-day workshop and meet with Pulitzer Center staff and journalists.

Any journalists (staff writers or freelancers) outside of the U.S. who wish to report from their home country are invited to apply, especially women or journalists from developing countries.

Deadline: The deadline is typically in early March.

12. Wallace Stegner Fellowship

Ten talented fellows — five fiction writers and five poets — will spend two years writing at Stanford University. Fellows participate in a weekly three-hour workshop led by Stanford faculty, but have no other campus duties beyond workshop attendance. However, it is expected that fellows will attend the numerous enriching events offered by Stanford’s creative-writing program, such as readings and lectures given by established authors.

The main goal of the fellowship is to complete or make significant progress on a manuscript. The Stegner is open to any interested writer, regardless of age or nationality, and pays $26,000 each year in addition to tuition and health insurance. Applicants cannot be enrolled in a degree program at the same time as their fellowship.

Deadline: The application period is usually open during the fall.

13. Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship

If delving into American history through your writing is your dream, this one’s for you. This nine-month residency at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland is open to both scholars and non-academic writers whose work focuses on “the history or legacy of the American Revolution and the nation’s founding ideas.”

Candidates should be able to demonstrate significant progress on their writing project prior to applying, and should have extensive publication history under their belts. The fellowship pays $45,000 and provides health insurance, faculty privileges and a book allowance.

Deadline: The deadline is generally in the fall.

14. Scripps Fellowship

Budding environmental journalists will swoon for the chance to spend two semesters at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Center for Environmental Journalism. In addition to undertaking an independent study which should lead to “a significant piece of journalistic work,” fellows take multiple classes in environmental science, law and policy, and participate in relevant field trips around Denver, Boulder and beyond.

Fellows receive $50,000 for the academic year. Five fellowships are awarded each year, and interestingly, the fellowship is open to any U.S. citizen with five years of professional journalism experience under their belt, even if they have never reported on the environment.

Deadline: The application deadline is generally early March.

15. Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy

Canadian journalists looking to dig deep into a current policy issue will take interest in this fellowship. Atkinson fellows spend one year researching and reporting on the public policy story of their choice, writing and publishing a series of articles about their subject in the Toronto Star.

Fellows should be experienced full-time professional journalists who are able to spend the year dedicated solely to this subject, and will be supported by a stipend of $75,000 and up to $25,000 for research expenses. Applicants should heed the mission of the Atkinson Foundation when considering their subject, which is to promote social and economic justice for all Canadians.

Deadline: The application period is generally open in the fall and winter.

16. Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing Fellows

This fellowship is for applicants who have no published books or only one full-length collection published by the application deadline. The Institute awards up to five fellowships (usually two fiction, two poetry, and one to a graduate of the MFA program in creative writing).

The year-long fellowships provide a $30,000 stipend, health benefits, and require teaching one course per semester. Fellows should live near Madison and be available to fully participate in the local writing community, give a public reading and help select the following year’s fellows.

Deadline: The application period is generally open in the winter.

17. Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellowships

This program offers four fellowships at CUNY’s Graduate Center. These fellowships run for an academic year and include a $60,000 stipend in addition to writing space and research facility access.

Recipients spend time working on their projects, going to seminars, attending public events and being part of the community. First-time biography writers are preferred.

Deadline: Applications are typically due in mid-December.

Have you applied for or won a writing fellowship? If we missed any of your favorite fellowships, please share them in the comments!

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Rebecca McCray is a New York-based writer who covers social justice, criminal justice reform, and whatever else catches her eye. Check out more of her writing here. ... .

Rebecca McCray | @rebeccakmccray

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Comments

  1. This is a great list, Rebecca! Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a wonderful list… I think I’m actually drooling. I wonder if my age would be a hindrance. I’m heading toward middle age… I can see I have some research to do! Thanks for putting this together!

  3. egejuru obinna patrick says:

    All you have mentioned are US citizens only.

    • Not entirely. The Persephone Miel Fellowship specifies that it is for “non-US journalists” and the Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy specifies as for Canadian journalists. Also, I haven’t gone through the requirements pages of all of these, but I wouldn’t assume that because the fellowship is in the US that it is specific to US citizen applicants.

      • Correct, Christy — we’ve included a few options specifically for non-U.S. citizens, and several others accept international applicants as well as Americans. Thanks for clarifying!

        Heather
        TWL Assistant Editor

    • Fred Khumalo says:

      The Nieman Fellowship is international. I was a beneficiary of it (Nieman Fellow 2012) and I am from South Africa. I spent the year at Harvard, and am back in Johannesburg. A heady experience it was. As the editor correctly pointed out, 50 percent of the group was American, and the rest international. They’ve had fellows from Nigeria – I am mentioning this cos your name sounds Nigeria. If not, my apologies.

      • Fred Khumalo says:

        Also, the Hodder Fellowship is international. Chimamanda Adichie, from Nigeria, is a past fellow. the Wallace Stegner fellowship also international: NoViolet Bulawayo, from Zimbabwe, is a past fellow.

  4. You missed a good one! The Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing Fellowships! $30,000 a year. 5-7 fellowships available each year for poets, fiction writers and a playwright. Information here: http://creativewriting.wisc.edu/fellowships.html

  5. This is a wonderful list. I would like to know where i can find information like rhis for Physics, or science fellowships. I recently received a master’s in physics ans would like to write an easier way to learn physics. Any advice? ?

  6. Here’s another opportunity I just found:

    The Leon Levy Center for Biography offers four resident fellowships at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) for the academic year beginning each September. Awards include writing space, full access to research facilities, and a stipend of $60,000. More info here.

    Deadline: December 1

    Heather
    TWL Assistant Editor

  7. Dear Rebecca McCray,
    It was by a chance that I discovered you today as I was looking for resources for authors in my ripped age, although I have consumed most of my life as a visual artist.
    Thank you for opening so many doors even in my golden years,
    Zois Shuttie

  8. Thank you for this amazing list. Do you know of any in Chicago or Indiana?

  9. Any that do not require you to be on-site? I have a child and cannot relocate.

    Thanks for all the great info.

  10. Angel Richard says:

    Whats up for 2016. Very Interested

  11. I’m with Angel; is there anyway to get an updated list for 2016 or further?

  12. sanjay kr lahirir says:

    Thanks for sharing.

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