The cities best for aspiring writers offer myriad things, from publishing industry connections to strong communities of writers, from workshop opportunities to large conferences. Though every writer and every path to publication is different, the wider the variety of resources the better the city is for aspiring writers. These four cities offer all kinds of opportunities for writers, enmeshed in distinctive artistic cultures.
New York City
Manhattan’s exorbitant cost of living does throw a wrench into the idea that NYC is one of the best places to live for aspiring writers. However, there’s no denying that NYC is the main hub of the US publishing industry.
With a number of huge publishing names located there (ever heard of Publishers Weekly?) and a veritable pool of literary agents and agencies, NYC happens to be a major location for a number of writing and book conferences throughout the year. These conferences are great places to meet agents and editors in person. Plus, New York is one of the most vibrant cities in the US; aspiring writers will never lack inspiration.
Asheville is known for its downtown area and its artistic culture. It’s home to the Writers’ Workshop of Asheville, where you can register for classes, enter contests, and attend events at which you can meet other writers (and potentially find critique partners!). The University of North Carolina Asheville offers the Great Smokies Writing Program, which provides affordable writing classes to Asheville community members. Published writers and experienced teachers lead these classes, which come in 10- and 15-week options.
Seattle has a lot of cool opportunities for writers, including a number of writers’ groups, like the one offered by the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Seattle is also home to Hugo House, a place which welcomes writers of any experience level and any type. Hugo House offers classes, readings, events, workshops, and more.
The Pacific Northwest Writers Association, headquartered in nearby Issaquah, has a network of over 1,000 writers and many opportunities for meeting writers, attending events, and getting critiques. Every year Edmonds, which is 30 minutes away from Seattle, hosts the Write on the Sound Writers Conference where you can take workshops about writing and publishing.
One reason Portland makes the list is its combination of artistic culture and a relatively low cost of living. While areas like Manhattan and Seattle will probably drain the bank for aspiring writers (and may force them into more demanding jobs than they’d like), Portland affords a little more monetary flexibility. Portland is home to PDX Writers, a nexus of workshops and retreats meant to inspire writers of all kinds and experience levels. The Attic Institute and the Oregon Writers Colony also offer events, workshops, and communities for all levels of writers.
Each writer requires something different. Some may want to intern with a literary agency to make connections while others may seek a writing community with retreats and strong critique groups. In cities like these four, aspiring writers are most likely to find the inspiration they need to do the most important thing: keep writing.