Grants for Writers: 3 Ways I Make Applying Easier

Raise your hand if you’ve ever devoted countless hours to applying for grants and fellowship opportunities, only to face rejection after rejection – and that’s IF you even hear back from the organization. 

Time and time again, we jump through hoops, invest precious hours answering big creative questions in 500-word blocks, compile portfolios, and triple-check we formatted everything per requirements.

I don’t want to minimize the potential life-changing impact of grant money or a writing residency.

But all the time writers spend applying for financial support of our art distracts us from our true purpose: creating art.

The trick to making grants apps work for you as much as possible is to streamline the repetitive stuff as much as possible. So keep reading for my top tips on how to simplify grant applications (this works for writers’ residencies too) and reclaim your creative time.

1. Calendar deadlines for the year

Calendaring is an essential tool for artists navigating the grant application process, whether through a physical calendar or digital platforms like Google Calendar. 

By strategically planning and scheduling application-related tasks in batches, you can optimize your time and mental energy. You can apply for those grants on YOUR schedule without needing to drop everything and rush.

Calendaring also keeps you on track for getting the recommendation letters that are often required for grants. 

Few thing are worse than getting ready to apply for a grant, residency or fellowship,  only to discover you need multiple recommendations in hand by the deadline date – and not being able to coordinate those materials with enough time. 

2. Keep a folder for each grant you apply for

Once you find a grant that’s a good fit for you, chances are you’ll apply year after year.

Being able to look back at what you said last time is super helpful – especially considering how few funders change up their application from year to year. 

Keep a dedicated folder for each grant you apply to, containing the application instructions and draft materials.

Having access to your past responses allows you to review how you answered the application questions the next time around. It also benefits you with new grant applications for the same project. 

Copy and paste bios, project descriptions and other polished language into the new grant application to get a quick start on your drafts. Just remember to go back through and update the language if it’s a different grant! 

3. Keep a portfolio worksheet with clips, awards, pubs, preferred language to use

I keep a portfolio worksheet with bios in multiple lengths, an artist statement, context and influences for my work, what is work IS and IS NOT, publications and awards. I do a big update on an annual basis, and go in ~ every 6 months to add fresh clips, accolades, etc. And…when I write a new grant statement that I think describes me perfectly, I’ll copy and paste the language into my portfolio sheet.

This worksheet saves me tons of time when it comes to residencies, grant applications, and even giving publications a bio for accepted work. It helps me define myself to potential funders. It let me answer those ‘who is your work in conversation with’ and ‘how will your project serve our intended audience’ questions funders sometimes ask.

Your portfolio worksheet can include descriptions of yourself as an artist, summaries of your writing projects, and explanations of your creative process. 

By keeping this information handy, you can save time by cutting and pasting language that you have already worked on and honed. You avoid the need to start from scratch by editing your pre-existing content for consistency and flow.

A DIY version of this worksheet is included in my getting press for creatives workbook along with a comprehensive breakdown of how I use it when promoting my work and seeking funding, so grab a copy if you could use more support around creating one for yourself.

Thanks for reading! It means a lot to me. 

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