Become a Better Writer: 12 Offbeat Residency Programs to Get on Your Radar Now

12 writers in residence programs

Carving out a career in writing isn’t easy.

As you know, the types of writing jobs are endless. They include news reporting, blogging, freelancing, ghost writing, feature writing, business writing, sponsored content, book writing, and technical writing.

So if you’re managing several assignments at the same time, switching gears can be particularly taxing.

We dug up a dozen unique writer residency programs that aim to help writers do one thing: Keep up the good work.

1. Artcroft: Work in wide open spaces

Artcroft is located on a 400-acre cattle farm in Nicholas County, Kentucky. It features several structures: A one-story 1840s Greek Revival farmhouse with four bedrooms, a shared kitchen and bath; a two-story, 980-square-foot studio with a private bedroom and bath; and a 1910 tobacco barn converted into studio space for woodworking, pottery and an exhibition gallery. Feel like camping? That’s available, too. Residencies are available to established and emerging visual and literary artists. Artcroft accepts applications for residency on a continual basis; there are no deadlines.

2. Write A House: Win a house

Write A House wants to “leverage Detroit’s available housing in creative ways to bolster an emerging literary community to benefit the City of Detroit and its neighborhoods.” Write A House renovates homes and gives them to writers, including authors, journalists, and poets. It supports low-income writers by awarding three homes a year.

3. The Kerouac Project: Channel the creativity of Jack Kerouac

The Kerouac Project offers four residencies a year to writers. Judging is based on the quality of work submitted. Writers get to stay for about three months in the cottage where Jack Kerouac wrote his novel, Dharma Bums. A food stipend of $1,000 and utilities are included.

4. Amtrak Writer Residency: Because … trains

A tweet that went viral opened up the #AmtrakResidency program. Amtrak just finalized its second class of 24 writers to take to its rails for the next 12 months. Amtrak sends two writers a month to travel round trip on pre-selected trains, covering all 15 of Amtrak’s long-distance routes. Assuming all goes smoothly with this class of writers, a new application process could start by early 2017.
(Note: Amtrak has ended its residency program, but you can still plan your own trip.)

5. National Park Service: Get inspired by the parks

More than 50 residency programs are available in national parks across the country. Stay in a remote wilderness cabin at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, contemplate history at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in Iowa, or consider working in a contemporary studio overlooking the stone-lined fields at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut. Programs vary and are open to visual artists, writers, musicians, and other creative types. Residencies typically are two weeks to four weeks and most include lodging.

6. Shakespeare and Company: Be a tumbleweed in Paris

In 1951, American George Whitman founded the bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, in Paris. Whitman considered himself a “tumbleweed,” traveling and being sheltered by the kindness of strangers. To celebrate this, Whitman started a program at Shakespeare and Company, opening up to writers, artists, and intellectuals who sought refuge. In exchange, these Tumbleweeds were asked to read a book a day, work in the shop for a bit, and write a one-page autobiography for the archives. To date, the shop has housed an estimated 30,000 Tumbleweeds.

7. The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow: Write without interruption

My Time is a two-week residency at The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs, Ark. It’s specifically to support writers who also are parents of young children. Each resident is given a private suite and bath with writing space and WiFi. Residents can look forward to uninterrupted writing time and dinner five nights a week. Writers also are given a $1,500 stipend to assist with child care or travel. While the My Time deadline has passed for 2016, WCDH Director Linda Caldwell hopes the program will continue. Regardless, there are other writing residencies available year-round.

8. Akrai Residency: Develop new work in Sicily

For one month each year, seven professionals in the arts — creative writing, culinary arts, dance, film, music, theater, and visual arts — are chosen to visit Sicily to work on various projects and interact with the local community. Work performed during the residency will culminate in special events and exhibitions throughout the territory. Program participants are given a private bedroom and hosted at private apartments throughout the historical center. All are within walking distance to the studio.

9. Rhode Island Writers Colony: Empowering artists of color

Rhode Island Writers Colony aims to provide time and space to emerging writers of color toward the speculation, production, and experimentation of a large chunk of an existing project. The colony is the brainchild of Third Floor Studios, a non-profit arts organization founded by Brook and John Stephenson.

10. Virginia Center for the Creative Arts: Retreat to the mountains

Work privately in close proximity with other artists in quiet, spacious, light-filled studios. They say the commute isn’t bad either: A short walk from the fellows’ residence up a gravel path with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. There are separate panels for each category (poets, fiction writers, nonfiction writers, playwrights, performance, film and video artists, painters, sculptors, photographers, installation artists, composers and cross-disciplinary artists) with more than 50 panelists serving at any one time.

11. Writing Between the Vines: Just add wine

Open to applicants in all writing genres, Writing Between the Vines also encourages applications from wine, food, and travel writers. Residents are offered a place to write and create at one of several wineries in California or British Columbia. Residencies last up to a week in length and are free of charge. A committee of writers, poets, and publishers review the applications and award the retreats.

12. Ucross Foundation: Even wider, open spaces

Ucross Foundation fosters creativity among artists by providing private studio space, shared residences, and the chance to experience a historic 20,000-acre ranch on the High Plains. For more than 30 years, Ucross has been giving space and time to artists, including writers, composers, and visual and performing artists. Residencies vary from two weeks to six weeks, and there are up to nine artists in residence at any one time.

writer residency programs in the us and abroad

Finally, in the category of We Missed the Boat in 2016: The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, in partnership with Seattle Department of Transportation offered a writer/poet residency program to a poet, fiction, or creative non-fiction writer for a unique artist residency in the northwest tower of the Fremont Bridge.

Writer Elissa Washuta took on an in-depth exploration of the bridge and used the opportunity to write. Seattle Channel featured Washuta in CityStream: Fremont Bridge Writer-in-Residence.

“It’s been a pretty extraordinary residency,” says Public Art Project Manager Kristen Ramirez. “I do hope to repeat it in coming years, but I’m still in discussion with my supervisors as to the feasibility.”

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Christine Cube is a senior audience relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. She’s now filled to the brim with inspiration and wants to apply to everything she just wrote about. Follow her at @cpcube or check out her latest on the Beyond Bylines blog.

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