In the last few days, Twitter’s been debating whether or not all writers need to take attend a writing workshop. For some, being able to attend is a privilege; for others, being able to find alternatives to attending is a privilege. If you’re thinking about it yourself, I’ve compiled a non-exhaustive list of English-language sff workshops and some alternatives. I’m sorry for the geographical narrowness of the post; if you know of English-language options in other areas, please let me know. There are also some online options.
As for me, I applied to Viable Paradise this year. Last year, I went to the writing workshop at FOGcon and attended Tempest’s Writing the Other online class. Both were great; I benefited a lot from them. Now I’m hoping to level up. We’ll see! (I’ll just have to cross my fingers until June.) I tried OWWSFF and Critters a long time ago, but neither worked out. Just not my thing. I found a couple of “Shut Up and Write” groups through Meetup, though, and those have helped me increase my productivity.
I don’t have any personal experience with the other ideas listed below. So
- Make sure the option you choose fits your schedule, genre, and medium — don’t take an intensive mystery novel workshop if you’re a fantasy short story writer with no free time.
- Look for information online from people who’ve actually done it. Particularly for the big workshops, there are lots of blog posts by attendees.
- Beware of both overblown claims and negative hyperbole.
- Check costs carefully. The total cost (application fee, tuition, lodging, food, books, travel, etc.) can really add up. The numbers below can’t be compared to each other, as they include different things.
Apply to a workshop
- Viable Paradise in Martha’s Vineyard, MA, USA. The deadline is June 15, 2016. (Tuition only: $1300. Length: 1 week.)
- Clarion West summer workshop in Seattle, WA, USA. The deadline is March 1, 2016. (Tuition and more: $3800. Length: 6 weeks.)
- Clarion in San Diego, CA, USA. The deadline is March 1, 2016. (Tuition and more: $4957. Length: 6 weeks.)
- Taos Toolbox in Taos, NM, USA. Not sure when the deadline is. (Tuition and more: ~$3300. Length: 2 weeks.)
- Gunn Center Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop in Lawrence, KS, USA. The deadline is May 20, 2016, or when the workshop is full–whichever comes first. They also offer a Novel Writing Workshop, for which applicants must initially make contact between February 1 and March 1, 2016. (For either one, tuition and more: ~$1000. Length: 2 weeks.)
- Odyssey Writing Workshop, Manchester, NH, USA. There’s an “early” deadline of January 31, 2016, and a “regular” deadline of April 8, 2016. (Tuition only: $2025. Length: 6 weeks.)
- Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat, cruise departing from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA, visiting 3 ports in the Caribbean. No deadline listed; departs September 17. (Tuition and more: $1450+. Length: 1 week.)
- Milford SF Writers, Snowdonia, Wales, UK. Not sure when the deadline is. (Tuition and more: £605/approx. $860. Length: 1 week.)
Check out the application sites in detail. They all have different application methods (online, postal mail, both) and you may have to dig up a checkbook. Additionally, if you’re applying from outside the USA, you need to allow lots of extra time for the post, arranging for payment, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’ve read everything and can’t find the answer.
Consider an online class
- The Brainery (K. Tempest Bradford is offering Writing the Other here; I did a WTO course with her last fall, though not through The Brainery, and I highly recommend it)
- Odyssey Online Writing Classes
- Various writers teach workshops, which are typically announced on their blogs/Twitter accounts/etc. (e.g. Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, K. Tempest Bradford on Twitter))
Find a convention that may offer a short workshop
- International Costumers’ Guild’s Mega Convention List (at Costume.org)
- Ansible International Conventions List (at Ansible)
- List of science fiction conventions (at Wikipedia)
- Upcoming Cons
Investigate other alternatives
- How to Fake Clarion (at Deus ex Machinatio)
- Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
- Critters Workshop
- Meetup and other local writers’ groups
edited to add approximate costs and duration for some of the events