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Always dreamed of being a travel writer? Here's your chance to get a jump-start in the coveted and competitive industry, with a 22-day adventure/assignment in Turkey, mentoring from a pro and your foot in the door with a well-known travel guide as the grand prize for a travel writing scholarship.
What you'll have to do: Submit a 500-word essay (roughly the length of most posts you see on this blog), plus another 200 words on why you should be the winner. In addition, you'll need a passport with at least six months' validity, to be at least 18 years old (by June 7) and be available to travel from June 7-28, 2011. You also should have strong writing skills in English. Finally, entrants cannot be travel or professional writers (*&^! And I already had some great ideas in mind for my essay!).
The scholarship is sponsored by travel insurance provider and expert World Nomads, based in Australia, as well as adventure outfitter BikeHike Adventures and travel guidebook Rough Guides. The experience kicks off with BikeHike's Turkish Delight tour, whose 12-day itinerary is an unforgettable trip in itself. Highlights include exploring the enchanting landscape of Cappadocia (its fairytale-esque mountains are in the photo above) by foot, mountain bike and horseback, sea kayaking on the Mediterranean and discovering the cultural gems of Istanbul.
After that, the lucky winner will meet with mentor Terry Richardson, a Rough Guides author who specializes in Turkey, for two days of instruction. Then he or she will be off on a solo assignment in Istanbul for two nights before reuniting with Richardson for a review of the assignment. After heading home, it's time to hit the keyboard: The deadline for copy to Rough Guides is due August 15.
Speaking of deadlines, essays are due for the scholarship contest on March 28, 2011. The application process itself doesn’t appear too complicated – just a basic online form – and you'll get a good idea of what judges at Rough Guides are looking for by reading winning entries from years past. There are also a couple of videos with some helpful tips (among them: the 200-word essay on why you should be chosen weighs heavily, so take it seriously, and remember that there's no going back once you click "submit" on the application). And be sure to check out the Q&A with Richardson for the real scoop on the life of a travel writer – it's dead-on.
And, since I'd take it as a personal victory if one of my readers emerged as the winner, I have a few suggestions on how to stand out from the crowd. 1) Start crafting your essay now. That way, you'll have enough time to change and/or fine-tune your entry if the creative process sparks a new idea. 2) Read it out loud. If it sounds overwritten/too wordy/boring/self-indulgent, it will read that way too. 3) Work in Word while writing/editing/proofing, and then cut and paste your essays into the online form when you're ready. 4) The best travel writing evokes a sense of place while weaving in history, facts and personal observation. And even if you're writing in first person, keep in mind that you are not the story.
Good luck, and get writing!
For general trip-planning information, see our Istanbul Travel Guide.