Get Paid to Write: 19 Writing Fellowships for Authors, Journalists and Poets

Get Paid to Write: 19 Writing Fellowships for Authors, Journalists and Poets

If you’re keen to focus on a long-term writing project, but you aren’t sure how to fund your work, writing fellowships 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. 

From writing fellowships for new writers to creative writing fellowships, there are plenty of different types for any kind of creative who is looking for a chance to let their projects thrive.

Many writing 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 dizzying, 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.

19 writing fellowships for authors, journalists and poets

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

Here are 19 writing fellowships to consider.

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 $15,000 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.” It 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 $2,533.38 a month, along with a $200 monthly health care stipend.

Deadline: There are two cycles of writing fellowships per year, beginning Dec. 1 and June 1, with application deadlines two months prior (Oct. 1 and April 1, respectively).

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 of $750.

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. Writing fellowships run October through May.

Deadline: Typically in early December each year; this year’s is Dec 2.

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, but because the school is searching for a new editor of The Kenyon Review, it has extended its current fellows’ positions through June 2021, though it advises those interested to check back in fall of 2020 for updated information.

5. Loft McKnight Artist Fellowships

Minnesota writers, this one’s for you. Five $25,000 writing fellowships are available: four in creative prose or poetry and one creative writing fellowship 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; this year, it’s Nov. 22.

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 a “competitive stipend” (used to be $20,000), health insurance 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: The Stadler Fellowship’s deadline this year is Oct. 1 at midnight.

7. Nieman Fellowships

Perhaps the most generous award available for established journalists, the Nieman Foundation at Harvard offers writing 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 $75,000 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 (this year’s is Dec. 1), while U.S. candidates can generally apply until late January (Jan. 31, 2020).

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 (with next year’s program deadline being March 15, 2020).

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. Fellows are awarded a $83,000 stipend over the 10-month fellowship. 

The “exceptional promise” called for by the criteria should take the form of previously published work, as most literary fellows have published a book prior to their fellowship year.

The Hodder is unique, as far as campus-based writer 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 $1,000 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 MA or MFA 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. While the 2020 application period is now closed, check back in early 2020 for 2021 openings.

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 $5,000 travel grant to support her reporting, in addition to $2,500 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. Calls for 2020 proposals will open in February.

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 a living stipend (currently unlisted, but was previously cited at $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. This year’s applications are accepted until Nov. 1.

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, Md. 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, with this year’s deadline set at Nov. 15.

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 $71,000 for the academic year. Five writing fellowships are awarded each year, and 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 March 1, annually.

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 $100,000 

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 with a February deadline.

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 typically awards three fiction fellowships and three poetry fellowships..

The year-long writing fellowships provide “at least” $38,000 with “generous” health benefits, and it requires fellows to teach one course per semester. 

Fellows should live near Madison, Wis., 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, with a deadline set at March 1.

17. Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellowships

This program offers four writing fellowships at CUNY’s Graduate Center. These fellowships run for an academic year and include a $72,000 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 early January.

18. The Milton Fellowship

For the past 25 years, the Milton Postgraduate Fellowship has encouraged “work by writers who seek to animate the Christian imagination, foster intellectual integrity and explore the human condition with honesty and compassion.”

Deadline: While the fellowship is on hiatus from 2019 to 2020 to “assess and retool the program,” its website says applications for the 2020 to 2021 fellowship will open early next year.

19. O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism

This nine-month fellowship focuses on journalism “with the potential to drive action and improve lives.” 

Fellows work on public service journalism from a regional, national or international level, working from the O’Brien suite at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication in Milwaukee.

Funds include a $65,000 salary stipend, and fellows can “tap into generous allotments for housing, reporting-related travel and equipment.”

Deadline: Applications typically open Dec. 1, with the deadline in January (2020’s deadline is Jan. 20).

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

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Photo via GuadiLab / Shutterstock 

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