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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.