Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Things I've Learned from Grant Writing

In "real life" I work as a grant writer. At first glance there's not much that's similar between this type of writing and my fiction. Or even my nonfiction. But it HAS helped my writing.

1. Use each word wisely. Typically, there is a word count limit with grants. Just like in writing fiction, you have to use every word carefully. Make each one count.
2. Show don't tell. Even with a grant, it's important to show the reader why it's important that you receive the grant money. I usually show this by using metrics and outcomes. You can't just say "because I said so." Just as with fiction, show the reader. Make him or her believe.
3. Be brief. Don't use a page to say what you can say in a paragraph--unless you really have to. You have to engage the reader, and then keep her engaged.
4. Proofread. Do I have to say more?
5. Know your audience.This is important. If you're audience is 13-year-old girls, your language is different than if it's middle-aged suits.
6. **Update! Research -- Tracy  made a great point in the comments about research so I wanted to add that to the list. It's important for fiction as well as nonfiction...and grant writing.

Amazing to me that there are any similarities in these types of writing. On the surface they feel soooo different. Thoughts? Other theories?


Laura Pauling said...

And I'm sure your fiction writing in turn has helped your grant writing. Do you think?

Kristine Asselin said...

Thanks Laura, I think you're absolutely right. I think any type of writing informs the other.

tracyellen said...

I also work as a full-time grant writer! I agree that knowing your audience is key in both writing grants and writing fiction. For me, there is also the fact that both grants and fiction require some research. Just as we wouldn't ask for funding without knowing some background/stats/data, we wouldn't start writing a novel involving a time or location we know nothing about.

Having said that, I'm off to write another grant...


Kristine said...

Great point, Tracy! You're absolutely right about that, research is very important to both.

Marisa Hopkins said...

Wait - 'because I said so' isn't a good enough response? DARN IT, I knew I was missing something!! :)

I've never looked into grant writing before, but it is interesting how it has helped your writing - definitely makes sense!

MG Higgins said...

I have so much respect for grant writers. It's not an easy job! And I definitely understand how it can help your writing overall.

Kristine Asselin said...

Marisa--because I said so works in my house...well, on second thought, not so much. :)

MG--I was intimidated when I first started, but now it's become a lot easier. Like anything!

Theresa Milstein said...

Sounds like a query! Thanks for the advice.

Alicia Gregoire said...

Great post. This really applies for RFP responses too.