Applying for Grants (or Talent Isn't Enough)

Talented? Or just hard workers?
2012 has been my year of learning the art of grant writing, and I'm pleased to say I was successful in my first grant application (Yay for ARTS SA!). How did I manage it? I started writing it months in advance, asked  a dear friend if I could have a look at one of her successful applications [the dear friend say yes, thank you Emma Beech], and then spent hours getting it 'just right'. I also had two people proofread it and give constructive criticism.

I was going to write a more detailed 'how to write a successful grant' post.. but when I started looking around this amazing world wide web I discovered there's already plenty out there on this subject. I'd just be repeating heaps of others, so here's where I direct you to Lisa Hannett's website and her most excellent blog on 'Applying for Grants').

I recently completed a two part workshop with Lisa at the South Australian Writers Centre, and what are the two brain stickies I got out of it? ( I always look for two)
  1. Talent isn't enough to be a successful writer. You must approach your writing as a business.
  2. I've been deluding myself - I thought talent was enough to be a successful writer. Turns out I was wrong. I must be more business-like in my approach.
  3. I'm ready to write a novel.
  4. I'm excellent at critiquing other people's work.
Okay, that's already more than two. And number four is about being truthful about my talents, all part of the practice of being better at business. "Say what you mean" writes Kurt Vonnegut and I think that's incredibly simple and sound advice. :]

Re: Talent v Business.  I recently watched a doco on the Irish Dancing World Championships on TV. Weirdly made-up gals galivanting about the stage without moving their arms may not be everyone's cuppa, but one of the coaches said something that resonated. I paraphrase: It's not enough to have natural talent any more. Irish dancing has become so popular ... there are plenty doing it that may not have a lot of natural ability but they're working so hard. So the ones with a lot of natural ability have to work even harder if they want to be successful.

As far as I can see, it's the same with writing. Natural ability aint enough. There are so many writers out there, and they may not have your natural gifts for writing but they're working their arses off. You've got to work hard if you're going to compete with them (and let's face it, we are competing - for grants and in the marketplace). Turn up everyday, write, read like a writer, get a business plan, set goals, write .. you get the picture. Strangely enough I'm writing this post instead of re-drafting my latest story. But there you go. Even the hugely talented need a break sometime ;]

Best of luck with those grant apps!