by Jennifer Ward
Making a living as a writer isn’t easy, and neither is funding creative writing projects. We write because we love it, not to get rich. But how do we survive as writers? It is one of the few professions an individual can earn less money than teaching. As a writer and a teacher, I can attest to that. If you are a writer as well, the information here may interest you.
I’ve been doing some digging to unearth some of the best residencies and fellowships for writers. I’m a New Yorker who loves the outdoors, so I searched for programs in and outside the city with reasonable fees and requirements. If you’re trying to get your work published and find ways to network, these programs can help. Here are a few options I found during my Google searches that seem very appealing.
This writing residency, established over 20 years ago, is off the beautiful coast of Maine on Norton Island. The program allows writers to experience writing in one of seven cabins in a creative, natural space. I don’t know about you, but I would love to be on an island and hear nothing but the rhythmic sound of waves.
I stayed in a bed and breakfast in Acadia National Park a few summers ago, and I can imagine what this would be like—no phone, no television, and no distractions. Sounds like a dream. Getting my firewood? I’m on board with that, too, as long as I don’t have to use an ax. I’ve been camping before, and this seems like roughing it a bit more than what I’ve experienced. However, at the same time, it is very appealing since it is offered in the summer, and I love Maine.
Pros: Meet other writers, enjoy the fresh air, be at one with nature, and live in peace and quiet.
Cons: No running water for 10 days (in the cabins), daily cooking and cleaning responsibilities (if you don’t like chores), nights can be chilly, and there is no connection to the internet on the island.
Duration: This residency lasts for 10 days during the summer.
Fees: Playwright Phil Atlakon offers this residency for a flat fee of $150. Yes—you read that right. It is $150. There is a small application fee as well, which is very reasonable.
Requirements: This program requires fiction writers to submit 15-30 pages of work, but the program welcomes all kinds of artists and writers.
This program, created by The Center for Fiction, is open to writers living within the five boroughs of New York City. The area is beautiful but very busy. I have lived in Brooklyn most of my life, and I work about 30 minutes away. It’s not exactly a place where you can take your time driving around. It’s more of a place to walk or take a cab. If you are a fan of the late author Frank McCourt, you might find it interesting that it’s blocks away from where he once lived on Atlantic Avenue.
This fellowship is open to all ages and supports emerging fiction writers. Their definition of “emerging writers” does not consist of someone an independent or major publisher has already published. Last year, they accepted nine fellows. Their application window closed in May 2022 but should reopen soon.
Pros: Meet other writers, group dinners with agents and other important people in the publishing industry, studio space, $5,000 grant, mentorship with an editor, lots of bars and restaurants in the area, anthology publication, no application fee (0_0).
Cons: It’s highly competitive, and the area is a bit congested with traffic.
Duration: This fellowship lasts one full year.
Fees: No application fee.
Requirements: This program requires a fiction writing sample that is less than 7,500 words unless you are submitting a piece of flash fiction. The writing sample may be either a novel excerpt or one complete short story.
Don’t let the extra-long name deter you. This program, in Lenox, Massachusetts, is located at the former home of American novelist Edith Wharton. Although Wharton died about 85 years ago, her legacy and work remain quite influential in the writing world.
In partnership with Straw Dog Writers Guild, they offer a residency during March for a handful of talented writers. From that group, they select three writers to stay for one of three weeks in March. The program is open to emerging writers of fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and plays. The program provides living space nearby if you decide to stay for three weeks. This seems like an ideal choice for a writer living in or near Massachusetts and working part-time. The application window typically opens in September and closes in October. The window just closed, but it’s something to consider for next year.
Pros: Meet other writers, $500 stipend, workspace at The Mount (pictured above), and they also welcome writers of various genres.
Cons: The residency doesn’t last long; it’s in March and hard to do if you work full-time like me.
Duration: This residency lasts one week.
Fees: $25 application fee (waived if you are a member of the Straw Dog Writers Guild).
Requirements: This program requires a fiction writing sample that consists of 1,500 words, a curriculum vitae, and a statement of purpose.
If I wasn’t teaching full-time, I would apply to these programs in a heartbeat. However, the residency on Norton Island is a possibility for me since a summer commitment is one that I can do. Are there any programs that you would apply for?
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