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Literary Cleveland’s Breakthrough Writing Residency provides year-long mentorship, support, and opportunities to help six emerging writers in Greater Cleveland develop a book-length project.

Residents (two in each genre of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) will work with a mentor to make progress on their personal writing project (manuscript), gain free access to all Literary Cleveland programs, take part in professional development opportunities, and present their work at the annual Inkubator Conference. The program is primarily virtual with occasional in-person meetings throughout the year.

The program is intended for those who demonstrate a passion for writing and a commitment to developing a book-length project but who have not published a book or attended a MFA program.

Applicants are selected for the program based on the excellence of their writing and ability to complete their proposed writing project. Writing projects may include (but are not limited to) completing the first draft of a novel, memoir, poetry manuscript, or similar creative work, or revising and submitting a book-length project for publication. The residency is for personal writing projects (manuscripts) only, not community writing programs.

Benefits to Residents

  • Mentorship with professional writer for encouragement and accountability
  • A supportive writing cohort and environment
  • Free access to Literary Cleveland classes and programs (with some restrictions)
  • Participation in Inkubator Conference (as reader, presenter, or panelist)
  • Opportunities to develop teaching skills
  • Professional development consultation from working writers, agents, and more.
  • $200 monthly stipend for 12 months

What the Program Supports

  • The development of new work
  • Writing projects that will be completed within one year
  • Works not previously published and/or produced (excluding excerpts or individual poems or stories that are part of a larger project)
  • Works of writing, including, but not limited to, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and digital storytelling

Who Can Apply
The residency specifically aims to assist emerging writers who have not published a book and have not completed an MFA program. 

We are especially interested in reaching writers with low or limited income for whom expensive writing opportunities are out of reach. Additionally, we encourage writers who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American Pacific Islander, or multihyphenate, those who identify as LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and other members of communities historically underrepresented by and in the literary community to apply.

Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Resident of the Greater Cleveland/Northeast Ohio area at the time of application and through completion of the residency period able to provide proof of residency if selected
  • Age 18 or older
  • Cannot be a current staff, board, or committee member of Literary Cleveland
  • Cannot be a graduate or undergraduate student in any degree program during the residency
  • Cannot already have and MFA or a traditionally published book

Mahoning County Resident

Thanks to special funding as well as support from Lit Youngstown, we will have one additional resident in 2024-2025 from Mahoning County. If you currently live or work in Mahoning County please check the appropriate box on the application form to be considered for this spot (regardless of genre).

Selection Process & Criteria
Applications are reviewed by an independent panel of writers working in a variety of disciplines. The panel will select finalists based on the following criteria:

  • Artistic excellence of work samples
  • Quality of the proposed project (manuscript)
  • Feasibility of and ability to complete the project


Mentors will then select participants from the list of finalists.

Questions? Email info@litcleveland.org

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.