Writers in Residence

Hedgebrook is on Whidbey Island, about thirty-five miles northwest of Seattle. Situated on 48-acres of forest and meadow facing Puget Sound, with a view of Mount Rainier, the retreat hosts writers from all over the world for residencies of two to six weeks, at no cost to the writer.

Six writers are in residence at a time, each housed in a handcrafted cottage. They spend their days in solitude – writing, reading, taking walks in the woods on the property or on nearby Double Bluff beach. In the evenings, they gather in the farmhouse kitchen to share a home-cooked gourmet meal, their work, their process and their stories. The Writers in Residence Program is Hedgebrook’s core program, supporting the fully-funded residencies of approximately 40 writers at the retreat each year.

Our selection process occurs once a year in the fall, with a late July deadline for submissions. Notifications are made by the beginning of December. Through a completely anonymous, three-round process, selected writers are invited for residencies of two weeks to six weeks. Our residency season runs from February through October.

For more information about the Writers in Residence Program, contact Programs at programs@hedgebrook.org. 

Hedgebrook has made the difficult decision to close the land to residencies for the remainder of 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read more about this decision here. As we work to reschedule our 2020 residents for the 2021 residency cycle, our application for residency will remain closed until summer of 2021.


Apply for the Writers in Residence Program

Application Guidelines

Hedgebrook has made the difficult decision to close the land to residencies for the remainder of 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read more about this decision here. As we work to reschedule our 2020 residents for the 2021 residency cycle, our application for residency will remain closed until summer of 2021.

For more information about the Writers in Residence Program, contact the the Program Team at programs@hedgebrook.org

To be notified when the residency application season is open, please subscribe to the Hedgebrook Newsletter.

Writers in Residence Selection Process

For more information about what happens after you submit your application, check out the info-graphic below!

Q: What’s a “professional” reference versus a “personal” reference?

A: Your professional reference should be someone who can speak to your work as a writer: your boss, your writing mentor, an editor, a teacher, etc. Your personal reference should be someone who knows you well and can speak to how you might interact in a small community of writers.

Q: What if I want to explore a new writing form but don’t have a writing sample in that genre?

A: Discuss why you want to explore the new form in your project proposal and submit examples of your best work (in whatever form you have) for the writing sample.

Q: Do scheduling preferences impact selection? IE: If I ask for less time or a less desirable time, am I more likely to receive a residency?

A: No. Reviewers don’t even look at your scheduling preferences. Our Program Director uses these to schedule residencies only AFTER writers have been selected for the upcoming season. 

Q: What if I’ve never been published?

A: The application is open to all writers, at all stages of their writing careers. We welcome unpublished writers and often accept them into the program.

Q: How many writers apply? How many residencies are awarded?

A: The number of applications we receive varies from year to year, but it’s recently been around 1,500. We award approximately 40 residencies through the selection process, and we do notify writers that are “waitlisted” and can often add a few more, depending on scheduling details.

Q: Do you read each application you receive?

A: Hedgebrook staff does not participate in the selection process, but all applications are read by at least two alumnae. The final round of approximately 100 applications have been read and reviewed by ten readers by the end of the process.

Q: What can I do to make my application stand out?

A: Readers are looking for the strength in your writing sample and authenticity of voice. Pay particular attention to the questions in the “Artist Statement” section of the application and make a strong case for “Why Hedgebrook? Why now?” Tell us about the vision you have for yourself as a writer and artist and what you want your work to accomplish. How do you see your work living in the world?

Q: What are the most common mistakes on applications?

A: Including personally identifiable information (name, titles of publications, etc.) in the work sample – DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME or any HYPERLINKS to avoid disqualification. Not answering the questions proposed or only partially answering them. Having an email address on your application that is not current at the time residency notices are sent out (email us with any contact updates!).


Our six hand-crafted cottages – Oak, Fir, Owl, Cedar, Willow, and Waterfall – were designed by architect Chuck Dougherty, who worked with the Amish in Pennsylvania. While all the cottages have a similar design, they are built of a variety of woods and have unique color schemes and furnishings. Stained glass windows, pottery sinks, and other features were designed and crafted by local artisans.

Cottage_interior_smEach cottage has an upstairs sleeping loft with a hand built double bed, lamps, rocking chair, chest of drawers, and a small closet. With advance notice, it is possible to accommodate a bed downstairs for those who cannot climb the ship ladder to the loft. Other accessibility options are available on an individualized basis, and the Hedgebrook staff will work with you to accommodate your specific needs, if possible.

The main floor has a work area with ample desk space, a sitting area with a window seat looking out into the woods, and a comfortable, overstuffed armchair. Bookshelves have space for the writer’s personal library, as well as a cottage journal in which each resident is invited to make entries during her stay. With entries dating from Hedgebrook’s genesis in 1988, the journals are the cottage’s living legacy – and a way for writers to connect with those who have come before, and those will come after her stay.

WIR-Denise_feastA small half-bathroom and a fully equipped efficiency kitchen including toaster oven, hot plate, and refrigerator finish out the main floor. All cottages have electricity and are heated primarily by wood stoves. Writers share a centrally located bathhouse equipped with two showers, old-fashioned bathtub, two sinks, drawers for each cottage, heated floors, and a washer/dryer.

The historic Farmhouse is the center of the Hedgebrook community, where residents gather for dinner at a table overlooking Deer Lagoon and Puget Sound. All meals are prepared by Hedgebrook’s chefs, using organic food from our garden and local farmers. The Farmhouse living room, with a library full of Hedgebrook writer’s books, serves as a gathering place for residents to converse and share their work.

Application Resources

If you’re looking for advice or inspiration on filling our your application, here are a few resources that may be useful to you:

Read alumna Susan Rich’s posts on her blog, Alchemist’s Kitchen (2013): Application Advice for Hedgebrook. Just Do It! and Just Do It! More Application Advice for Hedgebrook

Check out our blog for inspiration and advice! Posts from other applicants include: Knocking at Hedgebrook’s Door, by Ellen Sussman and How I Didn’t Give up on Hedgebrook Which is to Say How Hedgebrook Didn’t Give up on Me by Jill McCabe Johnson. For advice on the application, read Dear Jennie, by Jennie Shortridge.

The Writers in Residence program will not be accepting new applications for 2021. Applications for the 2022 residency season will open June 16, 2021.