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Writing Excuses Retreat Scholarship Fund

Writing Excuses Retreats are in-person events where writers gather to network and hone their craft. The location changes each time, with at least one annual gathering aboard a cruise ship.

It’s our goal to make these retreats as accessible as possible. To that end, our scholarship program was founded. These scholarships run off donations from our generous alumni, Patreon members, and podcast listeners.

How to Apply for a Scholarship

Scholarship applications for 2024 are now closed. Subscribe to our newsletter to be among the first to know when the applications will open for our 2025 retreats.

These scholarships are very popular, and get a lot of applicants, so please read the information below carefully and reach out to [email protected] if you have any questions.

We have two different types of scholarships available:

Scholarship #1: Out of Excuses Scholarship: This scholarship is designed for those who cannot financially afford the retreat on their own.

Scholarship #2: Writers of Color: This scholarship is for writers of color.

Each scholarship awarded provides the recipient with:

  • Full retreat tuition
  • $500 of travel expenses
  • A bed in a shared room for the duration of the event
  • Hotel expenses in the destination city for one night before the event
  • All food at the event itself

This covers essentially all your expenses for the event, though depending on the flights you arrange, you might need to cover some of the travel yourself.

Submission Guidelines

When you submit your application you will have the opportunity to select which scholarship you are applying for: The Out of Excuses Scholarship or the Writers of Color Scholarship.

In addition, you will be asked to submit two separate documents as part of your application:

Document #1: Personal Essay & Letters of Recommendation

This document should be sent as a PDF file saved as: [Name of Scholarship]-[Your Name]-essay. For example:

  • Out of Excuses Scholarship-Jane Doe-essay.pdf
  • Writer of Color Scholarship-John Doe-essay.pdf

Within the document, please include:

  • A Personal Essay (450-700 words) explaining why you are a good candidate for the scholarship you are applying to. What makes you unique? What can you bring to our group that no one else can? Keep in mind that even as we focus on “need,” the panel will also be reviewing your writing in terms of “merit.”
  • Three Brief Letters of Recommendation (no more than 300 words each) from people who are not your relatives: friends, bosses, people from your writing group, or anyone who can tell us exactly how awesome you are.

Document #2: Writing Sample

This document should be sent as a document (.docx, .doc, or .rtf) or PDF file, saved as: [Name of Scholarship]-[Your Name]-sample. For example:

  • Out of Excuses Scholarship-Jane Doe-sample.pdf
  • Writer of Color Scholarship-John Doe-sample.pdf

Within the document, please include:

  • A brief example of your writing, consisting of 1-3 separate pieces and totaling no more than 5,000 words. These can be short stories or novel excerpts. Don’t feel obligated to fill the word count: if you can wow us in less, more power to you.

Again: make sure to send everything in one submission form or your application will be disqualified!

Please review your application several times or have a friend or family member review it for you, because we will reject applications on technicalities, just like an editor or publisher would. We would much prefer to read your awesome writing and give you a scholarship.

Current Open Scholarships

We have the following scholarships available for our 2024 events:

  • (Re)Generate Retreat in Minnesota (June 9th – 15th 2024): 1 Out of Excuses and 1 Writer of Color Scholarships
  • Historical Research in Scotland (August 2nd – 7th): 1 Out of Excuses Scholarship Only
  • WXR Mexican Riviera Cruise (September 19th – 27th). 2 Out of Excuses and 2 Writer of Color Scholarships

Scholarships for these retreats are due by February 7th, 2024 at midnight your local time. We will be reviewing applications in February, will contact the winners in mid-March, and announce them publicly in the first week of April.

Both categories have introduced us to incredible writers in the past, and we can’t wait to see who we get to meet this year. Share this post with everyone you know, read the rules carefully, and apply!

Scholarship Application

To apply, fill out the form linked below. Scholarship applications for 2024 will close on February 7th, 2024.

Scholarship FAQ

Q: What do the Letters of Recommendation need?

A: Think of this like a college entry application letter. Have your recommenders tell us why you are the best candidate for this scholarship. They can point out what they think might be relevant to the decision that the committee would otherwise not know. The letters help us round out the picture for each candidate.

Q: How does the selection process work?

A: For both scholarships, your application will be read by a panel of experienced industry professionals. They will then rate the applications before tallying up the rankings to choose the winners from the top ranked.

Q: Do I need famous people or industry professionals to recommend me?

A: Absolutely not. The status or prestige of the recommenders is not really a factor; they can be international bestsellers or they can be college roommates.

Q: Do you have any specific formatting requirements?

A: Other than what’s listed above, no. You can use whatever typeface or point size you like, as long as it looks professional and is easy to read. No glitter, weird colors, blinking text, etc.

Q: Are the scholarships open to anyone?

A: Provided you meet the basic qualifications, yes. We welcome writers from any country anywhere in the world, though remember that a) the classes will be taught in English, and b) the scholarships only cover $500 of travel, so anything beyond that you will need to cover yourself.

Q: What if I’m already published?

A: Apply anyway. The way this industry works, it’s entirely possible to be published and talented and still poor and unsuccessful (spoiler warning). The things you learn and the contacts you make on our retreat can still help in that situation, and we’re not going to disqualify anyone just because their first break wasn’t a smashing success.

If that doesn’t feel fair, remember that you’re competing against all of these people in the real world every time you submit a book or story for publication. This is no different. Your writing has to be the very best it can be no matter what you’re trying to do with it. We’re confident you’re up to the challenge, so do your best and knock our socks off. We believe in you!

Q: Ah, but what if I know one of you personally? THAT’s got to disqualify me, right?

A: Not at all, though it does change the way we read and rank the applications. As soon as one of our judges realizes that they know an applicant in real life, they pull themselves off of that application and send it back to us. We strip that application of identifying info and send it out to new judges, completely blind, to get their unbiased opinion. The final decisions are made by people who do not know who the applicants are. We take this seriously, and strive to keep the process as fair and balanced as possible.

Q: Okay, remind me of the basic qualifications again?

A: The Out of Excuses scholarships: If you can’t afford the scholarship on your own, you qualify. The Writer of Color scholarships: If you’re a person of color who writes, you qualify.

Q: What about kids? Can I win the scholarship as a teenager?

A: Teens are welcome on the cruise and in the classes, but will need to be accompanied by an adult (who will have to pay their own way, as the scholarship only covers one person). If you have questions, please reach out to [email protected].

Q: The description of the scholarship says it comes with a “shared occupancy room.” What does that mean?

A: On the cruise, you’ll have a roommate; on the land retreats you might share a room with one to five other people. If you know someone else on the retreat, you can let us know and we can probably put you together, but otherwise the assignments are made at random, and you will make a new best friend.

Q: How can I contribute to the scholarship fund?

A: There are two ways to contribute. One is on our Patreon which has a tier called “Interactive Q&A plus Scholarship” where $20 of your support each month goes directly toward our scholarship fund. The second is through a direct donation, you can choose any amount you want through this link (we use stripe for the payment platform)

Q: If I apply for the scholarship and don’t get picked, will there still be time to buy a ticket?

A: We discourage this for two reasons. First of all, no, there might not be time to buy a ticket. Some years we sell out incredibly quickly, and people who wait often end up out of luck.

Second of all, if you can afford to just buy a ticket, go ahead and buy a ticket, so we can give the scholarship to someone who can’t. That said, we recognize that there’s a difference between “I can afford this no problem” and “I can afford this but it will be a very painful sacrifice.” If you’re among the latter, you are welcome to try for the scholarship first and buy a ticket later if you don’t get picked; we will not look down on you at all, and we’ll do everything we can to make the retreat worth it.

Q: I sent in my application, but I’m not sure it arrived and/or I got an automated response saying it was too late and/or something else happened and I want to be sure we’re cool. What do I do?

A: Email [email protected] and we’ll let you know if it arrived safely.

Q: I have a question not covered in this FAQ. Who do I reach out to?

A: Email [email protected]. If you post the question online (whether here or on Facebook or on Patreon or wherever), there is no guarantee that we will see and answer it quickly.