Winter is workshop application time, and both Clarions have asked me to mention that their application deadline is March 1. Clarion West in Seattle and Clarion in San Diego are both intensive, six-week workshops in writing science fiction and fantasy. The instructors this year for Clarion (http://clarion.uscd.edu) are Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, David Anthony Durham, John Kessel, and Kij Johnson. Teaching in Seattle (www.clarionwest.org) are Paul Park, Nancy Kress, Margo Lanagan, Minister Faust, L. Timmel Duchamp, and Charles Stross. Both websites offer much more information, including the availability of scholarship money.
I'm also teaching a two-week workshop with Walter Jon Williams in Taos, NM, which is especially good for those who (1) can't manage to take six weeks away from home, and (2) like mountains, incredible scenery, and Mexican food. Find that one at www.taostoolbox.com.
Workshops can do several things for an aspiring writer. Primarily, they focus on aspects of craft that, although you would probably learn them anyway on your own after writing enough wordage, can shorten the learning process. Second, they give you feedback from actual readers of SF who aren't your mother or spouse. Third, a workshop can create connections, professional and personal, that last a lifetime. Certainly the ones I formed at Sycamore Hill Workshop have done so. I'm looking forward to extending that process at both workshops I teach at this summer.