Writing Tip: The Write Education

by Erin Brenner on September 9, 2010

I’ve written before about the value writing groups can have on your manuscript. While at Writers’ Day this spring (sponsored by New Hampshire Writers’ Project), I heard about a few workshops and classes for writers. All were in New Hampshire, of course. So I dug around and found even more classes, plus retreats, colonies, and fellowships. Each format is different and fits different needs.


Instructor-led workshops and classes can help you work the kinks out of your writing issues, such as developing characters, completing a first draft, or marketing your book. Workshops are generally focused on one topic and last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. Classes, of course, are broader and run for a semester. You may even want to explore a master’s degree in writing.


NHWP offers workshops and classes for all levels. All classes are at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester.

The Writer’s Center in White River Junction, VT, offers an extensive workshop list on focused topics. So does Grub Street in Boston. The Kripalu Center offers lots of writing (and other arts) workshops in Massachusetts’ Berkshires.

Try searching on writing workshops and your area to see what’s local.


SNHU offers an MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction, and New England College offers an MFA in poetry. Both are a low-residency programs, meaning you spend a limited amount of time in the classroom and more time working one on one with a professor.

The Atlantic Monthly has a list of the best of the best MFA programs. But you don’t have to through to a top-notch program (and pay top-notch bucks) to better your writing. Check out your local college or university for programs, particularly low-residency programs that will focus on your writing. Wikipedia lists some popular low-residency MFA programs.

And don’t forget the great equalizer. The Internet can offer you a host of online courses and workshops. But be sure the program is legit. Is it connected with a well-known institution, such as Writer’s Digest, or university, such as MIT? Where are they referenced online? Do you find good reviews or complaints?


Retreats are instructor-led weeks or weekends with plenty of time for writing. Colonies offer writers a place to write alone for a number of weeks for a low cost (and you may be able to find a grant to help pay for it). Fellowships fall somewhere in between: a educational institution or other organization offers a select number of spots for working writers. You meet regularly with other fellows for workshops (e.g., weekly) and spend the rest of your time writing. It can include a stipend, plus tuition.


Spend a weekend at Hemlock Harbor, Lake Sunapee, NH, for a writer’s weekend. The next one, Plot Intensive Weekend Retreat, is October 15-17, a great time to be in NH.

The Monadnock Pastoral Poetry Retreat takes place each spring in Greenfield, NH. Also a great time to be in NH.

What’s your ideal local for writing? Search on writing retreats in that area and go!


Nebraska boasts the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. The Center offers a limited amount of 2, 4, 6, or 8 week residencies to writers and other artists. Residents receive free housing, studio space, and Internet, plus $100 per week.

The Frost Place in Franconia Notch, NH, offers one poetry residency a year in a picturesque setting.

The Macdowell Colony, in Peterborough, NH, is probably one of the most well-known colonies. It offers 8-week sessions. But don’t think you have to go with the crème de la crème. If your goal is solitude for writing, cast your net wide. With limited spots, programs fill fast and some, like Macdowell, can afford to be picky. Check out some of these colonies. As with retreats, think too about where you’d like to be and search that area for colonies.

More programs are out there. Maybe you’ll finish that book by doing an MFA in writing program, maybe it’ll offer you the discipline and critical feedback to get the job done. How do you need to develop as a writer? Do you need solid feedback? Skills in writing dialog? Description? Once you identify your need, go out and find something to help you.

Finally, don’t forget that November is National Novel Writing Month. If can’t afford training or time away, let other writers encourage you to be focused for 30 days of intense writing. My cousin Faith decided not to wait until November and is up to 18,374 words. She’s doing great, and you can, too.

Previous post:

Next post: