Women’s Writing Conferences and Retreats in the U.S.

teacup and books by anete lusina

Why should you consider attending women’s writing conferences and retreats (including, of course, women-identified writers)? Pretty much the same reason a lot of us enjoy women-only reading groups.

Dudes just bring a different energy to the room, and sometimes we just need to be in a setting where our voices are sure to be heard, where we feel supported and valued.

There are lots of benefits to attending writer’s conferences, not the least of which is networking. You’ll meet writers in all stages of their careers; learn to pitch yourself and your work efficiently, hone your skills, get constructive critiques, and more. It’s a rare attendee that doesn’t leave a conference feeling energized and inspired.

Many conferences offer a direct route to meeting agents and editors, as well. This listing of women’s writing conferences and retreats in the U.S. is by no means exhaustive, so if you know of any others we should list, please contact us. We’re planning a listing of global women’s writing conferences, so please check back!

And please note, these conferences change from time to time, so make sure that any listing that appeals to you is up to date, and let us know if you find any that are now defunct, have changed venues, etc.

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Anne LaBastille Women’s Writing Weekend

When: July of each year
Where: Adirondacks, New York State
Learn more: ALWWW

From the website: “Join a group of like-minded women for a reading and writing retreat. Activities will include writing workshops, reflective paddling, arts-based activities, technical writing and experiential learning, and Adirondack-based readings to contemplate the role of sense of place in nature writing.”

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BinderCon: The Conference & Community For Women And Gender Variant Writers

When: Last one held in 2017; subscribe at site below for updates
Where: New York City and Los Angeles
Learn more: BinderCon

From the website: “BinderCon is a writing conference and community for women and gender variant writers. Born out of a community of over 37,000 writers, our conference is a uniquely powerful, supportive, and career-changing event.”

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C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference

When: November of each year
Where: University of Central Arkansas in Conway
Learn more: C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference

From the website: “The mission of the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference is to recognize, promote, and encourage women-identifying writers with special emphasis given to writing inspired by or written in the south.”

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Festival of Women Writers at Hobart Book Village

When: Early September of each year
Where: Hobart, New York
Learn more: Festival of Women Writers

From the website: “Since its inception, the Festival has created space for established and emerging women writers to share their insights and skills through a variety of writing activities and public readings with audiences throughout Delaware County, the state of New York, and beyond.”

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The Fiction Writer’s Journey
When: October of each year
Where: Bar Harbor, Maine
Learn more: The Fiction Writer’s Journey

Emily Hanlon’s writing retreat for women is an annual event that’s been happening for more than twenty years in beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine, adjacent to Acadia National Park. 

From the website: “Women who write fiction share aspects of their creative life that need community to flower. In my Writing and Creativity Retreats, this community is embodied by our Circle. ​Whether we’re writing,  sharing, critiquing, playing with our creativity, feasting on meals, experiencing the awe-inspiring landscape of our surroundings, listening to open readings, or chatting with new friends, you’ll find the freedom and inspiration that such a community brings.

Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival

When: June of each year
Where: Langley & Seattle, WA
Learn more: WPF

From the website:Hedgebrook offers a variety of opportunities for writers to hone their craft. For over twenty years, the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival has proudly supported the creation and development of hundreds of new theatrical works by some of the most exciting playwrights of our time—who have gone on to become Pulitzer Prize, Tony, Obie, Emmy and Golden Globe award winners, as well as McArthur Genius Fellows.”

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International Women’s Writing Guild Summer Conference

When: July of each year
Where: Allentown, PA
Learn more: IWWG Summer Conference

From the website: “Over two dozen workshops ranging from three to six days in length and spanning fiction, poetry, memoir, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, playwriting, writing as performance, social justice, multi-genre, and mixed media.”

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Jennifer Louden Retreats and Writing Intensives

When: Several times throughout the year
Where: Taos, NM, Mexico, and other locations
Learn more: Jennifer Louden Retreats and Writing Intensives

From the website:The retreats I create are among the best on the planet. Wow, that’s a bold claim. Okay, I can’t know that for a fact, but what I do know is hundreds of women over the course of 20+ years have told me, ‘I have been to so many retreats and yours are the best.’”

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Kentucky Women’s Writers Conference

When: September of each year
Where: Lexington, KY
Learn more: Kentucky Women’s Writers Conference

From the website: “Kentucky Women Writers is the longest running literary festival of women in the nation, launched by UK in 1979 to showcase the talents and issues unique to female writers.”

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Literary Women

When: March of each year
Where: Long Beach, CA
Learn more: Literary Women

From the website: “The committee that organizes the Festival is comprised of twenty-five volunteers. They believe in the continuing need to provide the Long Beach community with a cultural forum which reflects its diversity of literary interests. As succeeding generations of women continue to support the event, it is apparent the intentions of the original committee were well-founded and continue to be relevant today.”

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Story Circle Network: For Women with Stories to Tell

When: July of each year
Where: Austin, TX
Learn more: SCN

From the website:“Stories from the Heart IX will bring women from around the country to celebrate our stories and our lives. Through writing, reading, listening, and sharing, we will discover how personal narrative is a healing art, how we can gather our memories, how we can tell our stories. We welcome readers, writers, storytellers, and any woman with a past, present, and future.”

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Women Fiction Writer’s Annual Retreat

When: September of each year
Where: Albuquerque
Learn More: WFWA Retreat

From the website: “The WFWA Retreat is a craft and networking event. It’s an opportunity to talk about women’s fiction – both the writing and marketing aspects – with like-minded writers in a relaxed atmosphere.”

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Women Reading Aloud

When: April of each year
Where: Sea Girt, NJ
Learn more: WomenReadingAloud.org

From the website: “WOMEN READING ALOUD will host its 9th Writer’s Weekend Retreat in NJ devoted to women writers who are looking for time to write in a nurturing environment … Begin the day with a walk on the beach. Discover your authentic voice through writing workshops modeled after the Amherst Writers and Artists Method. This method allows writers to flourish at every stage of the creative journey.”

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Women Writing the West

When: October of each year
Where: Walla Walla, WA
Learn more: WWTW

From the website: “In 2018, Women Writing the West head to the Pacific Northwest for the 24th Annual Conference.” The conference covers many areas of the craft of writing, for women who use the American West as inspiration.

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Workshop for Women Writers of Color

When: November of each year
Where: Pendle Hill, Wallingford, PA
Learn more: Workshop for Women Writers of Color

From the website: “Welcome women of color writers! We can often find it a lonely and daunting experience as we seek to make our contributions in fields dominated by white men, whether in academia or other genres of fiction or non-fiction. Let us come together as women of color to share our writing work in progress, celebrate our diverse voices, confront our common barriers, and build a sisterly community of support for the challenges ahead.”

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Young Women Writers Workshop

When: April of each year
Where: Colorado Springs, CO
Learn more: YWWW

From the website: “As a young woman between the ages of 18 and 30-ish, you’re a unique kind of writer. Your needs and aspirations are different from those of writers who are either of a different generation or are, well, male. You aspire to write about the issues and challenges that face your contemporaries, your world. That means finding forms and structures that are different from what has come before. If that resonates, this retreat is for you.”

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Young Women’s Writing Workshop

When: July of each year
Where: Smith College, MA
Learn more: YWWW

From the website: “With so few writing programs that cater exclusively to high school girls, Smith’s Young Women’s Writing Workshop allows you to explore your writing in a creative and supportive environment that fosters your love of writing in a variety of mediums.”

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Plus …

If you’re looking for something a little more of a writing vacation, you might enjoy perusing this list of international retreats — some specifically for women.

And finally, there’s the AWP Conference, which is for writers of all genders, but we list it here because it’s kind of the grand dame of writers conferences — four jam-packed days of readings, workshops, and panels. Probably an amazing networking event. As their site says, “Everyone should go to AWP at least once.”

When: Spring; usually March or April
Where: Location changes each year
Learn more: AWP Conference

From the website: “The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) is one of the largest and most popular writing conferences in the world. With more than 15,000 annual participants and 800 exhibitors, it’s more than a conference or book fair – it’s an event. AWP is an essential experience for writers, students, teachers and academics alike.”

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