There are writing opportunities galore out there. (And yes, we are all working hard-core on our WIPs. But sometimes, distraction is...seductive.) It's true that many of these opportunities come with a price tag or are entirely questionable, but there are a couple with prestige. I've gathered some of my favorites and listed them below.
To my fellow females: A Room of Her Own sponsors several contests and retreats, but the cherry on top is the Gift of Freedom. Although 750 women applied this last go-round, the one lucky winner receives $50,000 in order to pursue her craft.
To my fellow sci-fi / fantasy writers: Regardless of your views on his religion, one of the elite writing contests of the day happens to be sponsored by L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future. Many leading science fiction and fantasy authors have earned their first laurels -- and major recognition -- as semi-finalists, finalists, and winners of this contest. Big names in the field (like Orson Scott Card, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, and Anne McCaffrey to name a few) also make up the panel of judges.
Note: for you budding artists out there, check out the Illustrators of the Future contest for new & amateur artists worldwide; $1500 in prizes awarded quarterly.
To my fellow apprentices: Clarion (San Diego) & Clarion West (Seattle) are intensive 6-week summer workshops designed to polish you up in the field of sci fi & fantasy. Applications are available in January and December, respectively, for the 2010 workshops. Odyssey, also an intensive 6-week fantasy writing workshop, is held at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Although pricey, scholarships are available. And, as Colleen Lindsay noted: acceptance & attendance in either of these programs is significant; do include such information in your query letters.
Now it's your turn. Enlighten me: What are your favorite writerly distractions?