Guest post: Applying for a grant could help you reach your writing goals

Applying for a grant could help you reach your writing goals

By Gigi Rosenberg 

When I wrote the book The Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing I interviewed dozens of artists including writers, poets, playwrights, and novelists who had won funding to support their writing. One playwright received money to stage a public reading of his script with professional actors. Another received a research grant that enabled her to travel and work at a specialized library. Others won funding that paid expenses to attend a residency. Writers also received fellowships which sustained them while they finished a novel, and others found grants to cover the cost of marketing materials.

The grant writing process sounds like a lot of drudgery – you have to fill out an application and answer hard questions about what you want and why you want it. However, the process can also be a creative kick in the pants. Because most applications have deadlines and require you to put your request in writing, the process forces you to think hard about that next creative project. So, even if you don’t win the grant or even submit the application, the process of writing down goals and detailed plans helps a writer’s focus and direction.

Grants come from both public sources (the local, regional, and federal government) and private sources (foundations). For the newbie, grants can seem daunting because each organization has a different application and different rules for applying. However, once you start applying you’ll realize that the questions all boil down to the who, what, why, when, where and how of what you’re planning. Grants range in size from a few hundred dollars to the $25,000 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

I advise my grantwriting students to start their research not in the library or on the web but at their own writing desks. Ask these questions: What are your goals and dreams? What’s your next step? How could a grant help you get there? Clarify where you’re going and outline what it will take to journey there. Apply for a grant that will help you create the project of your dreams.

If time and a place to write seem more useful for you than funding, apply for a residency.

Residencies can be found all over the country and throughout the world. Some even provide a stipend. You might be the only artist on a mountaintop or one among many in the bustle of a city. Choose one that serves your proclivities and your project.

Once you’ve decided what you want, you’ll know what you’re looking for when you do start your research. For a list of the best places to search, check out my free resource list at:

Of course most grants are extremely competitive. There are more writers who want money than there’s cash to go around. However, somebody has to win the grant; and if your idea is solid and your writing sample knocks the review panel out of their chairs, you have as good a chance as anyone of winning the funding.

If you’re interested in learning more about grantwriting, I have workshops upcoming in New York City and Washington, DC. For details, click on my events page:

In Oregon, I’ll be teaching an intensive workshop for writers and artists in Manzanita on November 6 as part of the Dark and Stormy Beach Weekend. For more information:

 If you don’t want to leave your house or office, tune into my free webinar, hosted by the San Francisco Foundation Center on October 27 at 2 pm. For more information:

Gigi Rosenberg







Gigi Rosenberg is a writer, speaker and presentation coach. Her book, The Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing (Watson-Guptill, 2010), grew out of the professional development workshops she launched in Portland and teaches in Chicago, New York City, Washington, DC and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Her writing has been published by Seal Press, The Oregonian, Writer’s Digest, performed at Seattle’s On the Boards, and heard on Oregon Public Radio. For the latest, visit

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