No writer is an island. Although it’s possible to write a grant solo, your application will be much improved and the process of writing it more enjoyable if you get others involved.
There are many grant-writing tasks that can benefit from team-member involvement throughout the process. Here’s a list of some of the help you can call on others for:
Co-Researcher: Team up with another writer and commit to both spending a set amount of time researching grants. When you meet again, share what you found.
Brainstorming Partner: Another writer or friend can help you decipher grant application questions and brainstorm how to answer them. You can read the questions to your partner and ask: What does this question mean to you? What are all the possible ways I could answer this? If you’re not sure whether your work is a good match for a specific grant, read the criteria out loud and ask: Does this sound like me? Do I qualify for this grant?
Interviewer: You will need someone to interview you to get you talking about your project. Sometimes it’s easier to talk first while taking notes and then write.
Audience Members: Interview your readers to find out what they appreciate about your work. They may see themes you’ve never considered. They may use words and phrases to describe your work that you wouldn’t think of. Let them help you find the language to describe what you do.
Telephone Coach: You may need to call the granting agency to ask a question about your application. Call your “coach” first and rehearse the call. Can you describe your project in two sentences? Can you ask your question succinctly? The more you practice for this call, the easier it will be. Call your coach after the call to let her know how it went.
Editor: Get an editor to read the drafts of your application questions. This person should be able to point out what parts of your answers are reading well and which parts need help and why. Give your editor the list of questions you are answering. Let her brainstorm with you on how best to answer the question.
Proofreader: Enlist a good proofreader to read your grant application before submitting it. Ideally, this will be someone who has not read your grant application yet. A fresh set of eyes can find mistakes in your budget, typos or missing information.
It’s best to have more than one person help you with the different tasks involved in writing a successful grant. However, at a minimum, solicit help from at least one other person. You’ll do better if you’re not in it alone.
This month’s assignment: Contact a friend or colleague and ask for help with one aspect of your next grant application. Offer to help her do the same. Asking for help is not easy; let the grant writing process help you practice.
Gigi Rosenberg is a writer, teacher and occasional performer of edgy, comic monologues on motherhood, relationships and the existential nature of being. Her essays and how-to articles have been published in Writer’s Digest, The Oregonian, The Jewish Review, Cycle California! Magazine and Parenting (forthcoming). “The Hanukkah Bush,” her radio commentary, was featured on Oregon Public Broadcasting. She coaches writers on how to read in public and teaches regional and national workshops on “Grant Writing for Success.”