You Must Apply!
I always apply for grants for writers; I’ve never won a grant (though I was given a different type of award), but just going through the process is valuable. Think of it as a work-out for your submission-muscles; where would Arnold be today if he hadn’t worked out?
Audience. The process of filling out a grant application and sending it in forces a writer to think about audience. Who are you writing for, what genre? Does your work really fit that audience or are you fudging a bit?
Bravery. It takes guts to write and even more courage to send out your work over and over. The process of sending in a grant application is relatively easy, though, because you’re not competing for publication, just money that will help you write a while longer. It takes less courage to send in grant applications than to submit to a publisher. Do it.
Experimenting with new genres. The Arkansas Arts Council rotates the genre for which they give grants: novels and short stories, poetry, literary nonfiction. Guess what? I’ve submitted each time. I’ve looked ahead to see what they are looking for and worked ahead in that genre. For the poetry submission, probably one of my weaker submissions, I wrote a number of poems on a theme. While I didn’t win the grant, it gave me experience with writing a variety of poetry forms over an extended period of time. Any experience with poetry is bound to make me a better writer, right?
Discipline. Finally, the act of submitting a grant application requires discipline, something writers need more of. You must plan ahead, read and fit your work into the grant’s requirements. You must print out a mss and address an envelope. The discipline to submit is crucial to your success as a writer. Rejection doesn’t matter, as long as you can keep on submitting. Don’t JUST submit to grants programs; but don’t neglect them, either.
I’m mailing in my grant application today to the Arkansas Arts Council. Look for councils in your area and for national grants. The Poets and Writers magazine maintains one list of grants and contests.