Three Unique Creative Writing Residencies

Creative Writing

While some writers are able to carve out a couple hours every morning or others look forward to late nights to pore over their keyboards, for many, the challenge to devote time to their writing is hard to conquer.

Writing residencies allow you the time and space to create at will. Your sole purpose is to write. You also usually get some one-on-one time with a mentor. A quick online search reveals plenty of creative writing opportunities that range from 10 days to nine months, from idyllic farms in New York to private apartments in Sicily. Consider these two unique residencies to focus on your creative writing and enjoy some other perks as well.


Detroit writers and urban activists founded Write-a-House in 2012 with one goal: use vocational training to renovate vacant homes and then give these homes to writers. That’s right, give. If selected, the writer receives the keys to a newly renovated home and begins to engage with the literary community of Detroit. This stipulation can take any form including starting a literary salon or creating a blog.

The program is open to any US citizen, but you must be willing to relocate to Detroit and make the home your primary residence for at least two years before receiving the house title. You’ll be responsible for taxes and insurance as well as maintaining the property.

The application process for the first home closed in June, and they plan to announce the winner in September. The application for the next home will be posted soon.

Amtrak Residency

Writer Alexander Chee may be responsible for this unique residency. In an interview for PEN American Center in December 2013, he answered the question, “Where is your favorite place to write?” with, “I still like a train best for this kind of thing. I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.”

This statement sent Twitter into a frenzy, including a tweet from writer Jessica Gross, who soon thereafter found herself on the inaugural residency train trip, traveling from New York to Chicago. Her chronicle of that trip was published in the Paris Review.

When Amtrak opened the residency to the public, they were overwhelmed with responses. They received over 16,000 applications. They selected 115 finalists and from that pool will select 24 winners. The 2014 program is now closed, but follow #AmtrackResidency on Twitter for news and watch for the 2015 program to open for applications soon.

Low-Residency MFA

For writers who have an English degree, but want additional schooling to build their creative chops, many choose to pursue the traditional terminal degree, the Master of Fine Arts (MFA). But one option that is gaining in popularity and reputation is the low-residency MFA program. Typically, this program requires enrolled writers to spend approximately 10 days in residence per semester, and then work through correspondence with a faculty mentor. Writers can typically pursue fiction, literary nonfiction, or poetry.

While the low-residency MFA program may not be a typical residency, it still has many aspects associated with its brethren. There are a number of schools around the country that offer the program, so most likely the travel aspect will be covered as well as the additional expenses (tuition). Additionally, with faculty on staff while you’re on-site, you’re sure to get some insight and have quality time with them, not to mention the email correspondence you’ll share from your home. But the perk of this program is you come away with an MFA, the highest degree you can attain in the creative field.

Whether you’re a published novelist or just getting started by writing a few verses, a writing residency can be an ideal place to change your perspective by traveling to a new place, get to know other writers if you choose to, and most importantly, work on your craft.

Written by Lizzie Wann
Lizzie is the Content Director for Bridgepoint Education. She oversees all website content and works closely with New Media, Career Services, and Student Services for Ashford University.

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