27 Amazing Writing Residencies You Should Apply for This Year

27 Amazing Writing Residencies You Should Apply for This Year

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 writer’s 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, and she is 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.

1. Willapa Bay AiR

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 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. $30 application fee.

2. Millay Colony for the Arts

For many reasons, my residency stay at the Millay Colony for the Arts has been the most prolific, in terms of artistic production and concentrated work. I attribute that to not only the bucolic and remote country landscape, which accords one lonely hikes, clear blue skies and muddy roads, but also the sheer lack of human interaction for my 26 days while in residence. — Kate Hers Rhee, visual artist

This small artist’s colony in upstate New York offers two-week and month-long residencies to six 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. $35 application fee.

3. Ucross Foundation

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, this colony is located on a 20,000-acre working cattle ranch in Wyoming. It serves 85 artists per year, with up to nine people in residence at any one time. Lunches are delivered to your door, while dinners are eaten together in a group. Residencies last two to six weeks and are free of charge. $40 application fee.

4. Jentel

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; two writers and four visual artists are accepted for each session. 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. $23 application fee.

5. Virginia Center for the Creative Arts

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 $180 per-day cost to host you. $40 application fee. (TWL Founder Alexis Grant attended this residency, and it is a lovely setting!)

6. Brush Creek Arts Foundation

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 writer’s residencies! This one offers two- and four-week residencies, complete with lodging, meals, workspaces and natural beauty — though the site specifies that priority is given to applicants who want to stay for the long haul. They provide communal lunches and dinners. Closed in December. $40 application fee.

7. Writing Between the Vines

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.

8. Omi International Arts Center

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.

9. Norton Island Residency

How did I get here? Where am I? I feel like I don’t exist, and it’s nice. — The Magic Wonder Blog

This 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: Wi-Fi is limited 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.

10. Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts

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 up to 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.

11. Blue Mountain Center

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 Wi-Fi here!). $25 application fee.

12. Martha’s Vineyard Writer’s Residency

Perhaps the biggest advantage of doing a residency is to reminded of what I learned  in graduate school: The importance of integrating and valuing regular writing and reading every day. It is easy to get distracted, rush through life, and do only the paid work and chores during the week. — Chloe Yelena Miller, poet and freelance writer

This residency wants to give you time and space to create. They host up to 10 writers at a time in the spring and fall for residencies of two to six weeks. The cost of lodging is $400 per week in spring and fall and $800 per week in summer, and food is not included. $20 application fee.

13. Vermont Studio Center

VSC recreates the best parts of the MFA experience: living in a community of writers (artists), having time to devote to your craft, the sense that what you are working on is important, and friends to have a beer with at the end of the night. — Brendan Lynaugh, writer

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.

writing residencies

14. The Edward F. Albee Foundation

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.

15. Wildacres Retreat

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.

16. The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow

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 50 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 $175 per night, and non-fellowship residents contribute a flat $75 per night. You can also expect to pay small fees for cleaning, Internet access, as well as an application fee.

17. Writers in the Heartland

I’m back from my writing residency, which I can only describe as a wonderful and strange week full of so much hard work, good company in the other writers, and warm hospitality from the spa staff and guests. — Laura Maylene Walter, fiction writer

This small program in Illinois offers no-cost residences in September and October to up to five writers at a time. They provide three meals a day and 32 acres of woods and farmland for hiking, running and meditation. $20 application fee.

18. Artcroft

My writing for these first couple of weeks has been going well. The structure I set up for myself is working as I had hoped. I am getting to know the characters and find them interesting. I’m enjoying the story that is unfolding. — Jason F. McDaniel, writer

Ever wanted to work on a cattle ranch? Here’s your shot. Artcroft offers four-week residencies on a working farm in Kentucky between May and October. They provide lodging, but you’ll be expected to contribute $50 per week toward food. You’ll also help with cooking and other chores around the ranch — but don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to indicate your work preferences in the application. $30 application fee, and a refundable $200 security deposit if you’re accepted.

19. Hedgebrook

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. In their words, “We provide the time, space, and nourishment. All you do is write.” Featuring six cottages located on Whidbey Island, outside of Seattle, 40 women attend each year free residencies of two to six weeks from February through October. $30 application fee.

20. The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences

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, residencies last from two to eight weeks. For food and lodging, you’ll pay $235 per week — a fraction of the total $1300 cost to the program. Limited scholarships are available primarily for first-time residents. $30 application fee.

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.

22. New Orleans Writers’ Residency

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. Starting in mid-July, you’ll spend four weeks in a historic house with up to seven 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.

International Residencies

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. 360 Xochi Quetzal (Mexico)

This residency in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico offers four live/work spaces in a small town with horses trotting on cobblestones and cowboys riding by. Writers over the age of 23 are welcome to apply for free one-month residency programs that include accommodations and a food stipend of 1,000 pesos. You can even bring your significant other, if bed space allows, for an additional $200 charge. Apply for a summer or winter program or rent a live/work space other times of the year. $39 application fee

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 around 10 artists at any given time. Food is not provided, but participants enjoy a traditional Finnish wood-burning sauna and have access to a car and bicycle. 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.

26. La Napoule Art Foundation (France)

Apply for this interdisciplinary group residency and France for a five-week residency. Up to 10 artists at once live and work in Chateau de La Napoule, where they enjoy single rooms with a private baths. 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 one to six-month residencies. Up to 20 residents can be in the program at any one time. 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. Participants stay in downtown apartments.

This post originally ran in October 2015. We updated it in April 2017.

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141 comments

  • Sarah Allen says:

    Oh man, this is such a great list! For some reason applying for residencies has felt intimidating, but this is a great place to start. Thank you!

  • Kathy Westra says:

    Terrific, inspiring article, Lexi! It’s a permission slip to dream on a gray, muggy DC day.

  • Jessica Jacob says:

    I had honestly never considered a residency before and now I’m wondering if it’s something I should be taking a look into.

  • What a great list! And so timely. I’m attending the Martha’s Vineyard Residency in October and am so excited about the fabulous opportunity.

  • Marcia Gaye says:

    I’ve stayed at The Writers Colony in Dairy Hollow for the past few Octobers. It is lovely. Private room and bath in two communal buildings. Wooded setting across from a park. Meals provided M-F with fabulous dinners served family style. There’s even a piano in the main room, where poets gather on some nights for a potluck. Occasional speakers too, but residents are not required to hobnob unless they want to.You can be as isolated or as involved as you wish.

    That also goes for sightseeing. Eureka Springs is fascinating and beautiful and very quirky. A trolley stops at the colony and runs through the town for your pleasure. An artsy community of around 2000 people, it swells with visitors at some times, so plan accordingly. And as a bonus, there is a new Village Writing School nearby if you wish to take advantage of that.

    WCDH is relaxed, and seemingly remote, yet offers much more if you’re up for it.

  • Hila Ratzabi says:

    There’s a typo in the section on Willapa Bay AiR — it’s southwestern Washington not southeastern. And I’m here now, and it’s SPECTACULAR! Highly recommend!

  • June says:

    Actually, some of these are extremely selective. Did you look at actual acceptance percentages? I think researching the numbers would’ve improved the article. I appreciate the spirit of sharing, but presenting it this way is a disservice both to people with these residences already on their CVs and to people who think they will have an easy time getting into hedgebrook, hambidge, Millay, or any of the arts omi programs.

    • Alexis Grant says:

      Hi June — You make a good point. My idea here was to show residencies that are less competitive than Yaddo and MacDowell, because those are the ones we tend to hear about the most. But you’re right, many of these are selective, too. I didn’t mean to imply they’re *easy* to get into, just easier than the top two.

      If you have any you’d add to the list, I’d love to hear them! Some of the comments here are really insightful.

      Alexis Grant
      TWL Managing Editor

  • savia viegas says:

    Great residencies. Looking forward to being in one.

  • Hello! I was just sent this information from a close friend– an acclaimed prize-winning novelist in Alberta (on faculty at the world-renowned Banff Centre – where I recently did an assessment of the program for the Dept of Heritage of The Government of Canada). This list is excellent- and I thought your community would be interested in a modest but very successful retreat I founded and direct set in Spain. Lorca’s Granada: writers’ retreat, colloquia, workshop. This is a paid venue – but there is no application fee- and it is first-come first-served as long as writers qualify. Currently, it is for established writers. Next year we will have sessions for early and emerging writers, too. You will find info on my website. You will see that – it’s been totally inspired by the legacy of Federico Garcia Lorca and Granada – and this residency/retreat has been honoured with the friendship of the Lorca Familt and the Fundacion Federico Garcia Lorca (Madrid-Granada). My website has a link to a long article written by esteemed Canadian writer, published in WRITE – the magazine of The Writers’ Union of Canada. One thing- unlike the quiet tranquil retreat — this is unique in that it is in the heart of the city – where Lorca lived, wrote and ultimatelt was taken to be executed outside the city; the music of Spanish, the sounds of flamenco are part of the package to inspire artists. As Canada’s only and one of the English language’s leading journalists on Spain (I’ve been awarded by The Government of Spain) I hope to offer a full, rich immersion into the culture of the place Lorca called home.
    Your community is welcome to contact me about next May’s session.

  • Samantha says:

    I would love to do a residency but I feel like they are more for established authors. I’m still working on my manuscript, and I don’t have anything published. Could I really do something like this?

    • Alexis Grant says:

      Hi Samantha — It’s true many residencies are for established authors, and the admissions committee wants to see published work. But some residencies *do* have programs or slots for emerging writers (for example, see the comment above yours!). Those would be smart ones to target!

      • Hi Alexis– As my program is really quite new I have to develop it slowly – and I did want to offer this first for writers who are well on in development and who could be inspired– re-inspired by what this place and discussions on Lorca could give. Also, having presented workshops for three decades- often in university creative writing programs – I know much of the value comes from peers conversing with peers, not so much the director or facilitator. So, there could not be an equal give and take without a unanimity of peers. However, not that we will not present sessions for early writers etc. That will come – perhaps even next year – You can check my website during the winter – or simply contact me at btweenartists@gmail.com for any update about that.

      • M. E. Picray says:

        Ms Grant, Although I have publications both paid and unpaid, fiction and fact including an elementary science bk and including my novella “Hamster Dan” on Amazon, I would feel guilty taking one of these opportunities. Por Qua? Because I own and live on a “farm” (112 acres – 90 dense woodlands, wildlife, etc) that sounds like some of what you describe. IN fact, one of your sites is within a stone’s throw of my place! ;-D

        BUT… the gathering with other writers would maybe fill the huge gaps in my knowledge of the craft. So far I’ve just been schmucking along, doing my best and trying to learn as I go. So… can you suggest a book or five that will help me put it together? I’d be grateful! I might even send you some of my poetry!

      • M. E. Picray says:

        Ms Grant, Although I have publications both paid and unpaid, fiction and fact including an elementary science bk and including my novella “Hamster Dan” on Amazon, I would feel guilty taking one of these opportunities. Por Qua? Because I own and live on a “farm” (112 acres – 90 dense woodlands, wildlife, etc) that sounds like some of what you describe. IN fact, one of your sites is within a stone’s throw of my place! ;-D

        BUT… the gathering with other writers would maybe fill the huge gaps in my knowledge of the craft. So far I’ve just been schmucking along, doing my best and trying to learn as I go. So… can you suggest a book or five that will help me put it together? I’d be grateful! I might even send you some of my poetry!

        ps… sorry. I keep forgetting that SFF.NET is no more and that was my main email address…

    • Veronica says:

      Hi Samantha
      have a look at stiwdiomaelor.wordpress.com for a new residency program that is open to writers at all stages. There are plenty of vacancies at the moment as its only a new program.
      Veronica

  • June says:

    My point when I asked if you checked the numbers was that a post like this shouldn’t be written just based on assumptions or conventional wisdom. For example, Hedgebrook, at 3% (50 accepted of “more than 1500” in 2014), is MORE selective than both Yaddo and MacDowell. Perhaps it is assumed to be less selective because it’s only for women, it’s small and isolated, etc.

    • Sally P. says:

      Actually the Hedgebrook number for 2014 was 40 selected out of I think they said it was 1,600-something… and Hedgebrook has shortened the application window this year. But my point: It is STILL worth trying. I applied for 2014, not realizing the odds. I never in a million trillion years thought I would be accepted, but somehow, I was. Hedgebrook changed my life. I finished my novel there.

      So perhaps it’s a good thing this wonderful and informative article DOESN’T scare us away by reporting the odds! We should be reasonably realistic with ourselves, of course… but why not try? You just never know unless you try.

  • Tom says:

    Alexis,
    Thank you for posting this incredibly helpful and informative article. I’ve been researching writing retreats and your list is top notch. I’m currently writing my first book and am excited about applying to more than a few of these residencies.
    Tom

  • Rhein says:

    This is great list! I really want to join writer residency since last year to make my new fiction project. Thanks for your information 🙂

  • Lovely article, but I have to agree with June. I’ve been to MacDowell several times and applied to Hedgebrook several times, but have never gotten in. Regardless, this is great list to get people researching and interested in colonies. And Millay is wonderful! So glad it’s here!

    • Thanks for the feedback, Kara!

      Heather
      TWL Assistant Editor

      • Melissa says:

        Many of these residencies are extremely competitive including Ucross (which is mislabeled as “Cross”), Jentel and Millay. And as far as many of these being “lesser known”, they certainly aren’t to anyone I know – I just find so much of this article to be very misleading. Many very well established artists apply repeatedly for these residencies and never get accepted. This is the art world – rejection is a way of life. This, however, can never be a reason or excuse not to try – but it’s a little unfair to present these as sort of “outside the box” options.

        • Thanks for the feedback, Melissa. We’ll do our best to focus on smaller, lesser-known options in a future post.

          • I wanted to update my previous mention here about the retreat I direct: Lorca’s Granada: writers’ retreat, colloquia & workshops. At present there is only the retreat for published authors (one published book from a reputable press – large or small) a workshop is in the plans. As something unique and original, we have received the encouragement and friendship from the Lorca Family and the Fundacion Federico Garcia Lorca.
            There is no Competition: Registration is on a first-come, first-accepted basis (with CV, project description, letter of serious interest). There are two sessions this spring.

            I caution that this is not a quiet countryside retreat. It is in the heart of the city of Granada – where hearing the sounds of the city, the Spanish Andaluz language that writers will hear/try to speak – is part of the attraction.

            Fees are published in Canadian Funds – that might seem economically attractive to American writers.

            http://www.gerryshikatani.com (where you will see a photo or two of our writers with Laura Garcia-Lorca, president of the Fundacion Federico Garcia Lorca, including one at Back Tomorrow the Lorca exhibition in NYC 2013 http://www.lorcanyc.com/

            Gerry Shikatani

  • Jonathan Warren says:

    Wonderful list!
    The Noepe on the Vineyard is a wonderful place!
    There’s another lovely retreat on Martha’s Vineyard called the “Renaissance House”. The Vineyard is a great place where to find that island feeling as well, and disconnect from “reality” for a while.

    Thank you for a great collection of retreats!

  • For those who have read this far, I highly recommend that you nominate http://thewritelife.com. as one of the 10 Best Blogs for Writers in the http:// @writetodone.com’s 9th annual contest. The deadline is December 24. A direct link to the contest is at http://writetodone.com/top-10-blogs-for-writers-contest/.

  • Veronica says:

    I am the manager of Stiwdio Maeloer – an artist in residence project in North Wales, UK. Stiwdio Maelor offers residencies of one – eight weeks for both visual artists and for writers. So far we have had one writer – David Lloyd of New York and this year we have three writers – Earl Livings (Australia), Paul Riede (New York) and Elizabeth Jane Corbett (Australia). We are happy to take writers at any stage in their career and at the moment we have plenty of vacancies as I believe not many writers are aware of this residency. So I encourage you all to go to the website have a look and email me. Look forward to hearing from you.

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