Grant Me Motivation

rabbitfaqA few months ago I attended an ASA seminar on applying for writing grants. I always expect to come out of such talks feeling motivated and ready to take on the world, however invariably it’s the opposite. Instead I leave with a head full of new information, feeling intimidated by the task before me. Call me slow, but I tend to need a day or two to emotionally digest new information.

I suppose I had reason to feel overwhelmed. Applying for grants is a lot of work. They’re wily beasts to craft – it takes practice to perfect the art and get the tone just right, and much like a novel they should go through several drafts. Then there’s no guarantee that after all that effort you’ll actually get one. Grants are coveted prizes, so there’s serious competition for them. I’m currently wrangling with my first grant application and was whingeing about it to my fiance the other day:

Me: Man this is hard work. I’m spending all this time crafting this silly thing when I don’t even know if I’ll get one!

Him: Isn’t that what you do every day with your writing?

Me: *silence*

He’s so right. Each day I willingly devote majority of my time to creating stories that I’m never really sure will see the light of day. I don’t need certainty to do that, so why should I with a grant application? In the ASA session there was a great quote from Narelle Oliver, who said that every time she even considers starting a new project, she applies for a grant. She’s not always successful, but this way it has simply become a part of her writing process. When I grow up, I want to be just like Narelle.

Now that I’ve recovered from the seminar and digested all the information, here are some tips I picked up on writing grant applications:

  • Tell a story: Treat the application like a story you’re writing. The judges get hundreds of applications to trawl through – if you start yours with a refreshing or startling tidbit about your project, they’ll be more likely to remember your proposal (and emotionally connect with it)
  • Don’t be shy: Contact the organisation running the grant and ask questions – they’re typically helpful and will guide you through the projects of yours that may be most appropriate for their grant
  • Edit: Treat your application just like a novel. Redraft that baby until it comes up to a high shine
  • Don’t give up: You may not be awarded a grant the first time, or even the first few, but each time you’ll get better at writing them and you will get there eventually

So enter the wide world of grant applications boldly: go write, apply and conquer. And if you need a whinge, you know who to come to – writing these things is tough…

15 Responses to “Grant Me Motivation”

  1. 1 misshelenwrites October 18, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Hi Katherine
    You may want to start with the small grants, as like you say, they are a lot of work. Queensland has the RADF grants, partnership with the Qld Arts Council and your local council. These are good if you have any professional development in mind. I was a recipient of a small grant in 2007 and it gave me the opportunity to work with the wonderful Dr Virginia Lowe
    Anyway, I was recently appointed on the RADF committee (Logan area) so if I can help in any way in the future just drop me a line. I am still learning about grants as I hope to apply for other grants in the future.

  2. 2 Kathleen Noud October 18, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for that Katherine & best of luck with the scholarship!

    It’s something I’ve been researching for a few months and I have been thinking of starting small and working towards the bigger applications in a few years. Of course, when I’m ready to apply for the scholarship, you’ll be the first person I annoy for tips :p

  3. 3 Katherine Battersby October 19, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Thank-you so much Helen, I really appreciate that. There are so many different grants available, which is wonderful.

    I have trouble letting an opportunity pass, especially if it costs nothing to apply, so thought I would have a go at this grant (even though it’s a big one) – I figured I had to start somewhere! At least I’m learning about how to put one together. I’ll collect some ‘insider’ tips along the way, Kathleen…

  4. 4 Dee White October 19, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Great post, Katherine,

    I haven’t applied for any grants for years. Thanks to your tips and inspiration, I might just stick my toe in the water again.


  5. 5 Michael Pryor October 19, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Hi Katherine,
    thoughtful stuff! I have trouble, however, with the ‘Don’t Give Up’ advice. Getting better at writing applications implies that you get useful feedback with an unsuccessful application, in order to improve for next time. Too many grant authorities, however, decline to provide anything. Vague and general reports is about all you get. It’s like a black hole, sometimes…

  6. 6 Katherine Battersby October 19, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I’m sorry to hear that, Michael. I’ve heard from a few people recently that it can be pretty soul destroying stuff, especially if you have put in a number of applications and are getting nowhere with no feedback.

    My simple hope at the moment is that I will naturally get better at writing the applications with each one I do. Although feedback would obviously be nice.

    Dee – if you’re going to dip your toe in the water once you’re back in Melbourne, make sure you rug up first :)

  7. 7 Ravi October 19, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Hi Katherine

    I’m not a real writer, but I’ve had to deal with motivation issues from my students – and from clients (not to mention myself). A while back I drafted a ‘guide’ for them not sure if this will help you, but here it is anyway. It’s not so much about the rejection or the apprehension, but about what happens inside our own heads – and other stuff too.Good luck with the next application!

  8. 8 Katherine Battersby October 20, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Thanks Ravi – your guide looks really interesting. I’ll have to explore it some more when I have a chance. Battling negative self-talk is a huge part of writing, as it is with many things. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. 9 Frizz October 21, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Good luck with your application!

    I really appreciate your feedback about ‘fighting’ you own style. In a way I guess it’s lucky because when you try to imitate but keep coming back to a certain style you can be sure it’s yours and not you trying to be someone else. At least that’s how I like to think about it.

    I’ll be back!

  10. 10 Katherine Battersby October 21, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Frizz, to me you’ve always had such a distinctive illustration style, which is why I was so interested to hear that you too went through a teething stage.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  11. 11 Lynn Priestley October 22, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Keeping all my bunny toes crossed for you XXX

  12. 12 sheryl gwyther October 22, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Great advice, as usual, Kath. I’m in there with you, my friend. Have to agree with Michael too, if you don;t get feedback how do you know what went wrong? Maybe it’s a case of too little money for too many applications???

  13. 13 Katherine Battersby October 23, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Thanks Lynn! I’m certainly not expecting anything from it, but am learning from the process.

    Sheryl, you were a great motivation for me to have a go at applying. And just like with our other writing, we can commiserate together about rejections…

  14. 14 Sheryl Gwyther October 25, 2009 at 2:06 am

    I’m happy to be one of your motivators, my love!

  1. 1 The City That Never Sleeps « the Well Read Rabbit || Katherine Battersby Trackback on April 6, 2010 at 7:54 am

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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

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