It’s a dream of many writers: to spend time at a quiet colony or residency where you can focus on your work. But too often the only writers’ colonies we hear about are The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, prestigious residencies that only accept a tiny percentage of applicants.
The truth is, there are lots of other wonderful writers residencies to choose from, many of which are less competitive, so you’re more likely to get accepted.
Our founder, Alexis Grant, enjoyed three highly productive residencies at The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences. She’s convinced that a big reason we don’t hear about the non-MacDowell-level residencies is because the writers who frequent these places aren’t always digitally savvy; rather than participating in online communities or blogging, they spend their time writing
Here are 27 high-quality writing residencies and retreats you may not know about yet. While some of these are quite selective, others are a little more open with their admission policies.
From the philosophy and mission; to the facilities; to the administration; to the meals; all has been well thought out. When I add in the lovely locale and the interesting and supportive Oysterville community I don’t know how it can get any better. — Betsy Best-Spadaro, visual artist
This fairly new residency program, which was launched in 2014, is already making waves. It’s located in Southwestern Washington and offers month-long residencies to emerging and established artists of all types. Lodging, meals and work space are provided to six residents per month from March 1 through September 30. Expect a $30 application fee — and a $100 refundable deposit to confirm your residency if you’re admitted. (You’ll get it back as soon as you arrive!)
I showed up to Millay a lotta bit nervous but curious about what doors in my work would open up there, out of my element. Thankfully, the staff and the land itself, which seems infused with some soft blessing by Edna herself, make it hard not to settle in and let the work take you. — Danez Smith, poet
This small artist’s colony occupies the former estate of Edna St. Vincent Millay in upstate New York, offering two-week and month-long residencies to six or seven artists between the months of April and November. Unlike many other residencies, they don’t emphasize social events or speakers, instead preferring for you to focus on producing your art. There are no costs, and food is included. You can also apply for a virtual residency or a “group residency” with your collaborating partners. Application deadlines are March 1 and October 1 each year; there’s a $37 application fee or $60 for the late deadlines (March 8 and October 8).
At Ucross I learned that I am capable of focusing deeply for long periods of time. I love to write. I don’t think I would have said that before this trip. — Edan Lepucki, novelist
A favorite among writers with the likes of Annie Proulx in its list of alumni, this colony is located on a 20,000-acre working cattle ranch in Wyoming. It serves 85 artists per year, with up to ten people in residence at any one time. Lunches are delivered to your door, while dinners are eaten together in a group; towels, linens, and weekly housekeeping is provided. Residencies last two to six weeks and are free of charge. $40 application fee; March 1 and October 1 deadlines.
The month’s end is a time I am not looking forward to because with the space itself being gorgeous and comfy, the food being good, the people being wonderful, and me being productive. I can see myself dreaming of this place once I leave. — Jennifer Baker, fiction writer
Sitting just eight miles away from UCross is Jentel, which hosts month-long residencies year-round. The program accepts both established and emerging artists, so long as you’re “focused and serious” about your intent to write and “have developed a personal vision or personal voice” in your work. Though food isn’t included, they do provide a $400 weekly stipend to help with the costs of your trip. Applicants must be over the age of 25. Deadlines are January and September 15; $23 application fee.
There was something magical about being in such a supportive and beautiful environment, having a different place (studio) to go to every day with the deliberate purpose of writing, and being inspired by the serious work ethic of all the other artists. — Penny Harter, poet
This selective residency is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and accepts artists of all types. Residencies are offered year-round and last from two weeks to two months, with 25 artists in residence at one time. You’ll receive three meals per day and are asked to contribute what you can, up to their $150 per-day cost to host you. $40 application fee; deadlines are January, May and September 15. (TWL Founder Alexis Grant attended this residency, and it is a lovely setting!)
This place is truly amazing and inspiring. I spent my mornings, early afternoons, and evenings working on a new orchestra piece (still pending), and my late afternoons hiking around the ranch… The other artists were fascinating. — Kari Besharse, composer
Wyoming ranches are popular places for writers residencies! This one offers three-week residencies, complete with lodging, meals, workspaces and natural beauty — though the applicant guidelines specify that residents must stay for the entire duration of the residency, arriving on the set arrival date and departing on the set departure date as planned. They provide communal lunches and dinners. Closed in December. $40 application fee; apply by September or March 1.
For mothers who write, a room of one’s own is still important. But it wasn’t just sequestering myself… I was surprised at how many pages I produced. — Grace Hwang Lynch, writer
Like wine and solitude? Then you’ll love this residency. Available at several different vineyards on the West Coast, this is different from other residencies in that there’s no community of artists. You’ll have a private cottage in which to write for up to one week, with nobody else around to distract you. No meals are offered, though your stay is free if you’re accepted. $30 application fee.
The international character of [Omi] sharpens your perspective on what it means to be a writer outside the U.S.A. in the 21st century… As for the writing, my main reason for being here, it went sailing along, with only a few days when the anchor dragged. — Alfred Corn, writer
Writers Omi welcomes published writers of all types for residencies of one week to two months. Located on 300 acres in upstate New York, they offer full room and board and frequently host dinner guests from the New York City publishing community. There is no application fee, and no fee to attend.
How did I get here? Where am I? I feel like I don’t exist, and it’s nice. — The Magic Wonder Blog
This 10-day residency is located off the coast of Maine and offers a rustic and outdoorsy experience each summer for a flat fee of $125. When we say “outdoorsy,” though, we mean it, so get ready: WiFi is limited, cabins lack running water, and the program reminds you to “Watch out for wildlife—most of it amazing, some of it icky, all of it harmless.” $35 application fee.
There was time to sleep in, time to stay up late and work, time to nap, time to eat when it was necessary. It allowed me to get wrapped up in the novel completely… The process of engagement was so much more complete at KHN. — Theodore Wheeler, fiction writer
Located in Nebraska City, Nebraska, the KHN Center offers approximately 70 residencies per year, for stays of two to eight weeks. If accepted, you’ll receive free housing and a $100 stipend per week to cover food. $35 application fee; March 1 and September 1 deadlines.
It’s hard to describe joy. It was like I had come home, but the way home would be in heaven: yes, a community in the Adirondacks, but cleaner, fancier, peaceful and safe. More art and more cookies. — Micah Perks, novelist
Go off the grid in the heart of the Adirondacks. This artist’s community offers three different month-long sessions in the summer and early fall, including free room and board. Cell phones aren’t welcome at the center, though you’ll be able to use its phone booth and computer room with ethernet plug-ins (no WiFi here!). $25 application fee.
12. Mineral School
The Mineral School saved me from myself. … The beauty and the stillness of this landscape was a gift. In it I could hear my own voice as I hadn’t in the chaos of life at home, and I could finally see the shape of my novel. — Kirsten Lunstrum, fiction writer
With sweeping western Washington views of Mineral Lake and Mount Rainier, it would be hard not to produce great work at this residency, held in a renovated 1947 elementary school building. Open to writers of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction, the program provides lodging, studio space and meals for $250 per week (or at a slightly discounted $425 for two weeks). Limited fellowships are available.
This place really captures the essence of “sanctuary.” Coming off of a very demanding working mom schedule, it was a gift to have the time to hit the reset button and get to the creative work that I’ve been meaning to devote more attention to. — Monica Ong, visual artist and poet
Another favorite is the largest international artists’ and writers’ residency program in the United States, hosting 50 visual artists and writers each month in the heart of Northern Vermont.
While writers give it high marks, it’s not cheap; for the complete program, you’ll pay $2,050 for two weeks or $3,950 for four weeks. Some fellowships, grants and work-exchange programs are available to help reduce your cost. $25 application fee; deadlines are February 15, June 15 and October 1.
My room looked out over a rolling lawn and at night I could hear deer crossing through the streams in the surrounding woods. It was beautiful. Everything I imagined and I was lucky enough to be in residence with a great group of people who were also amazing cooks. — Nichelle Tramble, novelist
Located on a knoll on Long Island, “The Barn” is easy to get to, yet still secluded. It’s open from mid-May to mid-October and accepts artists for four- or six-week residencies. The Albee Foundation can accommodate up to five people at a time and does not provide food. But there’s no cost to apply and no fees if accepted.
The staff is amazing. I feel incredibly well-cared for and very fortunate to have had this opportunity to work in such a calm and peaceful environment. — Yvonne Dutchover, fiction writer
If you’re looking for a short residency on the East Coast, look no further. Wildacres offers one- and two-week residencies from April through October. You’ll stay in one of three cabins on their property in the mountains of North Carolina. Meals are served in the main lodge, where you’ll interact with non-artists. There is a $20 application fee but no cost if accepted.
It was a game changer. I learned a great deal about me and my life as a teacher-writer. It is no small thing to come face to face with one’s work with no distractions. And while it is not something I could do on constant basis… it is something I plan to incorporate into my writing year from now on. — Stephanie Vanderslice, creative writer and teacher
Open year-round, this colony in Arkansas hosts dozens of writers each year for residencies ranging from one week to three months. If accepted, you’ll receive either a subsidized general residency or a fully-funded fellowship. Actual costs of the residencies are about $125 per night, but non-fellowship residents contribute a flat $75 per night as well as a one-time $25 cleaning fee. There’s also an application fee of $35.
17. Anderson Center
The publisher of an independent press had helped screen residency applicants, and before I could even travel to Red wing to begin my month-long stay there, she reached out by email to compliment me on my writing sample and inquire about my novel-in-progress. … She agreed to recommend me to a handful of agents, one of whom took me on as a client a week later. — Stephan Eirik Clark, fiction writer
Based in the scenic river city of Red Wing, Minnesota, the Anderson Center offers two- and four-week residencies for writers and translators from May through October — that is, the most beautiful months of the year up there. Residents are provided lodging, studio space, and weeknight dinners, but prepare their own breakfasts, lunches, and weekend eats. Both emerging and established artists are encouraged to apply, and there’s no application fee.
A well-established fellowship program that’s been offering residencies since the 1960s, the Fine Arts Work Center residency is pretty darn selective — but a great gig if you can land it. Each year, 20 artists are offered a seven-month stay in its Provincetown, Massachusetts facilities, including lodging, studio space, and a $750 monthly stipend. Writing fellowship applications are due December 1 annually, and have a hefty $50 fee which can’t be waived for any reason. But boy, if you make it in…
I had no book when I was accepted to Hedgebrook in 1995. I’d published poems in a few journals but that was all… Fast forward 18 years. The stay at Hedgebrook changed my life in several important ways. — Susan Rich, poet
While this residency is pretty well-known, we wanted to include it on this list because it’s only for women, and only for writers. Featuring six handcrafted cottages located on Whidbey Island, outside of Seattle, 40 women attend each year to immerse themselves in free residencies of two to six weeks in length, running from February through October. $30 application fee.
You know that saying, “I can hear myself think?” At this writer’s colony, I can. I can hear the words and phrases bouncing around in my head, begging me to put them down on paper… I can get to the heart of what I’m here to do: Create. — The Write Life founder Alexis Grant
Located on 600 acres in the mountains of north Georgia, Hambidge Center residencies last from two to eight weeks. For food and lodging, you’ll pay $250 per week — a fraction of the total $1500 cost to the program. Limited scholarships are available primarily for first-time residents, which waive the fees and provide a $700 weekly stipend. $30 application fee; deadlines are January, April, and September 15.
21. Kerouac Project
This residency allows writers to spend three months typing away in the Orlando cottage where literary legend Jack Kerouac wrote his acclaimed Dharma Bums. The Kerouac Project offers four residencies a year, and residents are expected to spend their time on their project, participate in a Welcome Potluck Dinner at the start of their residency, and read from their work at the end. (Other events and workshops are available if a resident is interested.) Participants also receive a $1000 food stipend. $30 application fee.
There’s little more inspiring than jazz, strong cocktails and beignets. If you want to do some hard work in the Big Easy, consider applying for the New Orleans Writers’ Residency. If accepted, you’ll spend four weeks in a historic house with up to five other writers, including one or two same-sex roommates. Better yet, the program offers continental breakfasts as well as a $200 weekly stipend for food and living expenses, and up to $500 for airfare. $25 application fee.
23. Gullkistan (Iceland)
As much as I love New York, I wanted to spend a month in a setting that couldn’t be more different — I wanted sublime natural beauty, peace and quiet, relaxation and simplicity — a reset button for myself. Gullkistan was an ideal answer. – Ben Valentine, writer
Located in Iceland’s Laugarvatn Valley, this quiet getaway has mountains, woods, creeks, and a peaceful setting. They welcome all sorts of artists and writers and have space for eight people at a time. The minimum stay is one month, but they may be able to work out a shorter stay for people who are interested. Fees vary based on accommodation preference, starting at 850 Euros. No application fee.
24. Camargo Foundation (France)
Inspiration came from my magnificent view of the Mediterranean sea, that ever-changing body of water — silvered over with sunlight in the morning, Aegean blue in the afternoon, black as ink on nights without a moon — and from the space, silence, and freedom of self-direction the fellowship affords. — Amina Gautier, fiction writer
Imagine waking up each morning on the southern coast of France, with nothing on your to-do list but write, write, write. If you land one of these six- to eleven-week residencies in Cassis, it could be a reality — along with transportation, lodging, and a $250 weekly stipend.
25. Arteles Creative Center (Finland)
Located in the Finnish countryside, these one- to two-month themed residencies are held at various intervals year-round and house 12-14 artists per month. Food is not provided, but participants enjoy a traditional Finnish wood-burning sauna and have access to a car and bicycle. The program also includes one or two “silent days” per week — less talking, more writing! Financial support is available, which reduces the cost to 970 Euros per month for one person in a single room with studio space; the full cost is 1,940 Euros per month. There’s no application fee, but you must be 23 years old to apply.
26. La Napoule Art Foundation (France)
This French art foundation hosts several different residency programs each year, open to interdisciplinary artists both emerging and established. Attendees are housed in private rooms in the recently renovated Villa Marguerite, each with a sea or garden view and a private bathroom. Breakfast and dinner are provided on weekdays. $30 application fee.
27. Red Gate Residency (China)
Live and work in Beijing, China with this program which provides four-week residencies year-round, which can be stacked for up to six months total. Red Gate will help you get involved in the local art scene and cover your airport pickup, local phone line and a welcome dinner. However, participants are expected to pay their own living expenses during the program or seek funding and grants from artist organizations in their home country. No application fee.
This post was updated in May 2018 so it’s more useful and relevant for our readers!