Editor’s Note: We’ll update this post periodically as we become aware of additional options.
Do you want to take your writing to the next level? Or make some serious progress on a writing project? Or maybe just connect in a different way with a writing community?
If so, you may want to attend a conference, a workshop or a residency this year. First, you should decide what kind of experience you are looking for. Some conferences, such as the mammoth AWP that begins next week in Tampa, offer panels on craft, perhaps publishing advice, as well as readings, but don’t offer an opportunity to get feedback on your work. Other conferences are actually workshops, which means that you will work in small groups to give and get feedback on participant work. Such workshops usually offer craft lectures, panels, readings and open mics too. While conferences and workshops provide instruction and feedback, residencies and retreats offer the opportunity to work on your own projects, with different degrees of interaction with other artists/writers possible depending on the particular location.
Opportunities within a six-hour driving distance of Charlotte
Appalachian Writers’ Workshop at Hindman Settlement School, “which is Kentucky’s premier writers gathering, provides an opportunity for aspiring and accomplished writers to immerse themselves in a community of people who appreciate Appalachian literature and who hail from or write about the region. This creative community comes to the Settlement to learn and teach the craft of writing through structured workshops and exchange with other writers. Both published and unpublished writers are urged to attend.”
- Location: Hindman, KY
- Dates: July 23-28, 2018
- Cost: $850 (tuition, housing, and meals)
- Application: closes May 1
- Competitiveness: ?
- Web: hindmansettlement.org
Doe Branch Ink offers three different week-long fiction or non-fiction workshops in May and June. Small groups and beautiful setting.
- Location: 30 miles north of Asheville
- Dates: vary by workshop. The ones listed now are in May and June
- Cost: $1200-$1400
- Application: can apply now, closed when full
- Competitiveness: ?
- Web: doebranchink.org
The Hambidge Center offers residencies rather than workshops. Fellows stay in individual studios scattered across the property. Four nights a week, they gather for a chef-prepared dinner. Usually every week or two, the writers and artists in residence share their work through studio tours. The property has miles of hiking trails, but limited phone and internet access. This is a great place for getting work done while also connecting occasionally with artists in other fields, including visual arts, composing, and dance.
- Location: Rabun Gap, GA
- Dates: throughout the year, except December to February
- Cost: $235 per week
- Applications: January 15 for May through August, April 15 for September through November, and September 15 for mid-February through April
- Competiveness: Selective. That said, once you’ve been a fellow, because you live nearby, you are added to a list of people who can fill in.
- Web: hambidge.org/application.html
Hub City Writing in Place is geared toward starting new work. The weekend sessions offer instruction, writing exercises, and feedback on work started there. You can stay in the dorms for $35 a night, or opt for a hotel. Critiques are available. If want to generate some new stuff, or only have a weekend, this might be a good fit.
The Porches is a private B&B-style accommodation for writers who want a space to write. The owner Judy Hale mostly takes women. The rooms are large and light-filled and, there are porches. Residents/guests share a common kitchen.
- Location: Norwood, VA (northeast of Roanoke)
- Dates: whenever
- Cost: $65/night
- Applications: just email the owner with a description of your writing project
- Web: porcheswritingretreat.com
Sewanee Writers Conference is about a six-hour drive from Charlotte, and takes place at the University of the South, on a serene Gothic campus. Participants workshop five of the twelve days, and on days off can audit other workshops, write, or hike, swim or ride bikes in the area. There are craft lectures, faculty readings and publishing or agent panels on most days, so you can stay pretty busy if you want to. Twelve days can feel long to some people, and there’s not a lot happening in the town. However, if you want to be immersed in writing and literary community, this may be a good conference for you. The faculty tend to come back year after year, and they are generally older, often southern, not very diverse. It’s a good deal for the price which makes it competitive.
- Location: Sewanee, TN
- Dates: July 17-29
- Cost: $1850
- Applications: Close 3/20
- Competiveness: It’s difficult to get into. In 2015, they accepted 15% of applicants.
- Web: sewaneewriters.org/conference/
Squire Summer Writing Workshops 2018 is a weekend workshop in fiction, nonfiction and poetry offered by The North Carolina Writers Network. Over the course of ten 1.5 hour sessions, participants will share their work and receive instruction in their genre from faculty. This year the workshop is in Raleigh, July 19-22. Applications open around May 1. Final details are not available yet.
- Location: Raleigh, NC
- Dates: July 19-22
- Cost: The cost in 2017 was $575 for a shared room for NCWN members, $675 for nonmembers.
- Applications: Open 5/1
- Competitiveness: They took only 42 in 2017
- Web: ncwriters.org/programs-and-services/conferences
The Sun Weekend Writing Retreat. The literary magazine hosts a writing retreat aimed at helping writers improve their craft and connect with a supportive community. Four full scholarships available. Emerging writers with unique perspectives are encouraged to apply.
Table Rock Writers Workshop offers an intensive, small-group learning experience designed to stretch participants’ creative capacities and knowledge in a supportive and non-competitive environment. Held on a mountaintop on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Table Rock Workshop is known for generous teachers, first-rate instruction, and reasonable tuition. Classes in poetry (Philip Shabazz), novel-writing (Darnell Arnoult), memoir and essay writing (Judy Goldman), writing for young readers (John Claude Bemis), and free-writing (Abigail DeWitt) are offered. Table Rock grew out of the 30-year old Duke University Writers’ Workshop, when it was discontinued in 2010.
- Location: Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, NC
- Dates: August 27-31
- Cost: $860 single room, $745 double room
- Registration: Open March 1, closes when full
- Competitiveness: open registration
- Web: tablerockwriters.com
Tinker Mountain Writers offers two kinds of experiences during the same week: a workshop or a retreat. Participants can choose a writer’s retreat, which will focus on generating new material through reading, prompts and discussion. Or writers can register for a workshop the focus of which might be plotting and storytelling, contemporary lyricism, an editor’s perspective, or working with an agent, among other options.
Weymouth Center Writer-in-Residence is a program for North Carolina writers only. You may stay a minimum of one week and a maximum of two. Accommodations are private bedrooms in a beautiful, historic house with shared bathrooms and kitchen. The house, located in Southern Pines, is surrounded by formal gardens, a horse farm, and abuts the Weymouth Woods Sandhill Nature Preserve with miles of walking trails.
Wildacres Writers Workshop takes place a beautiful location for a workshop, on a mountain near Little Switzerland, NC. Participants select from poetry, flash fiction, short story, novel and creative nonfiction. Daily workshops are 2.5 hours with readings/events in the evenings, leaving plenty of time to hike, write, audit other workshops, or socialize. The food is generally good, the rooms shared but with bathrooms, and the views lovely. There are plenty of shenanigans—boxed wine and dancing on the patio at night for those interested, a costume party, and a Gong Show on the last night with many skits on literary doings. There’s a greater emphasis on social events here than at some other conferences.
- Location: Little Switzerland, NC
- Dates: Writing workshop: July 7th – July 14th, Retreat: July 1st – July 7th
- Cost: $850 workshop only, $1300 for workshop and retreat
- Applications: Open 3/2, closed when full
- Competitiveness: You have to be a serious writer, but it’s not difficult to get in if you apply early.
- Web: wildacreswriters.com/summer-writing-workshop.html
Wildacres Residency Program offers 70 one and two-week residencies from April through October each year. Residents stay in one of three cabins that are a short walk away from the conference center. If desired, residents can take their meals in the dining hall. There’s no cost. Applications close on 1/15 so it’s too late for this year, but something to put on your radar for next.
The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts also provides room, board and individual studios where Fellows work with distraction for residencies ranging from two weeks to two months. Your studio is separate from your living accommodations. You can meet other artists from a wide variety of disciplines at meals and through studio tours.
- Location: Amherst, VA
- Dates: Varies, throughout the year
- Cost: up to $150 a day. Fellows are accepted regardless of ability to pay
- Applications: Next deadline is May 15 for October-January residencies
- Competitiveness: highly selective
- Web: vcca.com/main/apply
Farther Flung but Worth Considering
Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference: A highly competitive 10-day workshop in Vermont. Applications for 2018 are closed, but think about it next year. http://www.middlebury.edu/bread-loaf-conferences
Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference: From Creative Nonfiction magazine, a three-day conference for memoirists, lyrical essayists, and longform journalists. May 24-26, Pittsburgh, PA. https://www.creativenonfiction.org/2018-creative-nonfiction-writers-conference
Squaw Valley Writers Workshop: A competitive one-week workshop in July. https://communityofwriters.org/workshops/writers-workshops/
Tin House Summer Workshop: A competitive one-week workshop on Portland, OR July 8-15. Faculty is stellar. $1800. Applications close 3/18. http://tinhouse.com/summer-workshop/
Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers Conference: August 13-19, 2018. A competitive conference for writers who have an MFA or equivalent experience. Offers craft workshops and critique groups with an excellent faculty. $1410. Applications open now. http://vcfa.edu/writing/pwc
Writing by Writers: Various generative and critique workshops held throughout the year in gorgeous settings. https://writingxwriters.org
And for the Exotic Writing Adventure…