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 Program Director, Vito Zingarelli at vitoz@hedgebrook.org.

In an effort to support more writers, we are expanding opportunities for additional residencies.

This year we have the wonderful opportunity to partner with Oak Spring Garden Foundation (OSGF) in Virginia to provide a 3-1/2 week Hedgebrook Writers in Residence session for six writers from August 2nd through August 28th, 2020.

Apply for the Writers in Residence Program

Application Guidelines

Please read all application instructions and guidelines and apply below. There are updates to the guidelines for the 2020 application.

THIS APPLICATION IS NOT FOR HEDGEBROOK ALUMNAE. If you are an alumna, visit the Alumnae Programs page for new information on how to apply for an alumnae return stay.


Application Deadline

Applications for 2020 are closed.

Application Instructions

The application is an online process in SLIDEROOM. We advise you not to wait until the last minute to begin or submit your application, especially if you are new to SLIDEROOM. Your personal SLIDEROOM Account must be set up and verified before you can even begin the application process itself. We strongly advise you get started early, so nothing is in your way of completing your application by the deadline.

You should plan to submit a writing sample that you believe best represents you as a writer, and be sure to include work in the genre you expect to work on while at Hedgebrook. You may submit a mixed genre sample, but your writing sample must be formatted as a single PDF file that is no less than seven and no more than ten pages total and up to 10MB.


Selection Process

Our selection process occurs once a year in the fall. Through a completely anonymous, three-round process, approximately 40 writers are awarded residencies of two to six weeks. Our residency season runs from February through October.

In the first round, applications are carefully reviewed by Hedgebrook alumnae. Working in pairs, they read each application and consider how the applicant would benefit from a Hedgebrook residency. Out of this round, approximately 10-15% of applications move to round two.

In the second round, applications are reviewed by teams of three readers; each team is from a different city. Approximately 100 applications move to round three.

In the third round, a Selection Committee is made up of writers, educators, agents, literary managers, and editors read the applications and rank each writer according to the following criteria: quality of writing, originality of voice and strength of the proposal, with an eye toward diversity in all areas.

Hedgebrook’s staff does not participate in the selection process, except to facilitate the process.


Notification of Results

Decision results will be emailed to you by the beginning of December 2019.

The Selection Committee’s decisions are final. We regret we are unable to provide critiques of and/or comments on applicants’ work.



Hedgebrook supports visionary writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The Writers in Residence program is Hedgebrook’s core program that for more than 30 years has supported fully-funded residencies for writers representing diversity in citizenship status, nationality, current place of residence, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, trans* identity, age, disability, professional experience, and economic resources. We welcome applicants, published or not, of all genres, who embrace the mission and opportunity to be a member of Hedgebrook’s community.

All residents are selected solely on the artist statement, artist information, and writing sample supplied in their application.

You must be 18 years of age or older by February 1, 2020, to apply. Applicants are welcome to reapply if they have not yet been awarded a residency. Writers who work in languages other than English are welcome to apply if they can supply a writing sample in both English translation as well as in the original language.



There is no fee for residency. A non-refundable processing fee of $30.00 (U.S. currency) is requested with each application. Hedgebrook is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Application fees collected help fund the Writers in Residence Program.



If you are awarded a residency but are unable to accept your invitation, you will need to reapply. Residencies may not be deferred beyond the residency season for which you applied.


Residency Season

Hedgebrook is open throughout the year, except for mid-December through January, when there are no writers in residence. The residency season for the Writers in Residence Program runs from February through October.



An important part of the Hedgebrook experience is the solitude and freedom from distraction found in the privacy of your own cottage. If you would like a guest to visit you during your stay, you will first need to get permission from your fellow residents, and then inform the office 24 hours in advance. Visitors must be escorted by a resident or staff member at all times, and only a writer may stay in their cottage or partake of meals at Hedgebrook. Pets may not accompany writers.

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. (Please note the new Hedgebrook Residency at Oak Spring Garden Foundation is tied to specific dates: August 2-28, 2020).

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.

Writers in Residence applications for 2020 are closed.