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Writing Grants, Fellowships and Residency Apps: How To Apply For A Free Ride

Updated on December 29, 2014

A Universal Appeal

Free money! Free money! Free money!

Do I have your attention yet?

Talk about a writer’s dream. You get to follow your dreams and someone else pays you to do so.

Welcome to the world of grants, fellowships and residencies, a world hidden in the deep recesses of the writing community, unknown to many, intimidating to many and worth investigating for all.

Thousands of grants are available for writers who are determined and focused enough to wade through the application process. There are grants for classes. There are grants for conferences and workshops. There are grants to fund a project and there are grants that will support you financially while you write.

If you have ever written a query letter for a submission you have some idea about the grant writing process. You find a grant that interests you and then follow the guidelines to the letter during your application process. It helps immensely if you have a body of work as a foundation, and it also helps if you have built a platform or are in the process of doing so, but still, a well-crafted grant application by a beginner still has a chance of being accepted and rewarded.

Winning a grant is huge with regards to your platform and reputation. Not winning a grant is still a valuable exercise as the process ads clarity to your plan and vision for the future.

There are basically four types of grants that you can win: fellowships and awards; professional development grants; project grants; and residencies.

A writer's home
A writer's home

FELLOWSHIPS AND AWARDS

These fall under the category of “free for all,” and are the most attractive of grants. They basically pay you to support your writing efforts, and usually you have the freedom to work on anything related to your craft that you choose.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

As the name suggests, these are grants that help you to advance your career and grow as a writer. They can be as simple as a free workshop, or they can be for writing materials or paying for professional training.

PROJECT GRANTS

These grants pay for a project done by you and usually end with an event of some sort. Maybe you want to organize a youth writing studio; that would fall under the project grant guidelines. As long as the event is related to literature then it is food for thought and worth considering.

RESIDENCIES

How would you like to write in Florence for six months? You can find residencies around the world, and they usually consist of a place to live and work with other writers for a period of time. The scope is huge: some offer room only; some offer room and board; others offer room, board and a stipend.

Helpful tips

How to Apply

Perhaps the best piece of advice I can give you is to apply for a grant that is related to your passion and your writing plan. If you are passionate about where you are going or about the subject matter of your grant, then your passion will be obvious in your application. To randomly choose a grant simply because of the dollar amount or the chance to travel to Barcelona is not a good idea.

Ask yourself what it is you want in your writing career. What types of writing really float your boat? Where are you heading and what is your grand plan for the future? Once you have answered those questions then you can narrow your grant search to those grants that will help you chase after your dreams.

If you have projects in mind, which of those makes you most excited?

The key element in grant application is passion. There are hundreds of thousands of writers who apply for grants each year. Those with passion and the ability to translate that passion into an application process are the ones who score and score big.

Key Elements of a Grant Application

We can break down most grant applications into three main categories: artist statement, work sample and project description.

The artist statement is, for lack of a better description, your resume as a writer. It is your platform and it is who you are as a writer. It talks about your work, your past, your future and your dreams. It is your experience, your strength and your hope as a writer, and it needs to be taken seriously and sold convincingly.

The work sample is exactly what it says, and it is crucial. Your work sample should be two things: it should be your best work and it should apply to the nature of the grant. For example, if you are applying for a grant related to travel writing, then produce a sample of travel writing, and please, please make sure it is the best example of your abilities as a writer. You don’t get any mulligans in grant writing; no do-overs or oops. You get one shot at impressing the judges so your sample better be darn good.

Finally, your project description should tell what your project is, why it is important, what the goals are, who the audience will be and the benefits of the project. If you are applying for a project grant you will also need a detailed budget of the project.

Could you use some?
Could you use some? | Source

Matching Yourself to the Grant Requirements

Here is where a grant application is just like a magazine submission guideline. The directions given for a grant process are precise, and they are that way to weed out those who are not serious or not meticulous enough to follow instructions. Again, there are hundreds of thousands of applicants, and there are a limited number of people reviewing applications. Applications are tossed out regularly because they do not have the proper heading or they are not related to the guidelines or you did not cross a t or dot an i.

Secondly, make sure you know what the grant is asking for regarding the nature of your work. If your work or goals do not match the grant then don’t apply, or make sure you tweak your goals to match the grant.

Trust me on this point: people reviewing the applications are looking for a reason to reduce their work load. If they ask for three examples of your work don’t send two or four. If they ask for a sample of work under 1,200 words do not send them a sample with 1,500 words.

Yes the guidelines are tedious and yes they appear to be anal at times, but they are there to find out just how serious you are about applying. Follow them to the letter!

Even If You Lose You Win

One of the hidden benefits to grant applications is the fact that with each application I am able to focus more on my overall goals and plan. In other words, the process itself helps me to clarify what it is I want from writing, and I think you will find the same to be true for you.

If you get turned down so what? You have taken a huge step in chasing your dreams, and every rejection is a learning process. You have nothing to lose by applying and everything to gain.

I read once that being a writer “requires the sensitivity of a poet and the toughness of a rhino” and I believe that to be true. Grant writing is an excellent way to help you gain sensitivity and gain toughness, both at the same time.

Best of luck to you as you enter this new theater of possibilities. I truly hope you give it a try, and I hope you find it as rewarding as I have.

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      This is great and can't thank you enough for sharing this here with all of us. Hoping you had a great weekend and even more wonderful Monday now, too! Have, of course, voted and shared all over as always!

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 3 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      Billy, when I was in art school at the beginning I just didn't applied some concepts because they were so abstract. The teacher used to say: "I cannot tell you, you have to find it by yourself". What you are doing here is what I know as a good teacher, there are some things that by being presented enlightens the student. Thanks for your good heart! This is a great share! Keep being blessed!

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 3 years ago from On A Mountain In Puerto Rico

      Great hub with wonderful info. Thanks billy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Janine! Just one more thing to check out in this endless array of information. No problem, right? You have nothing but free time. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Maria, it's always my pleasure. Thank you for your kind words and blessings today and always.

      bill

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      I never thought of just asking people for money, but now that you mention it, what a great idea! I received grant money for college, so why not ask for it as an adult when I actually need it? Thanks for the info! Voted up!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Greg! Thanks for the visit from Puerto Rico.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jeannie, the best part of it is that it is not from the government so you won't feel dirty when you take it. LOL

      Thanks and if you try this let us know how it works out.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Wow I will have to bookmark this; and did you see in forum where xstatic tells where we can enter 5 pieces of work for $6. I am thinking about it but the last opening for it is in just a couple days, so better hurry.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 3 years ago from Hudson, FL

      I like how that picture has a hundred-dollar bill on top and the rest are ones. Many metaphors to be made with that one.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie, I didn't see that...I don't hang around the forums...but that seems like a great deal to me. Good luck with that, and thanks always for your loyalty.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lizzy, I think that perfectly captures the life of a writer. LOL Thanks for stopping by and have a great Monday in rainy Florida while we bask in the sun.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      This is huge! I'm bookmarking this and I will follow up. Thanks!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, that's great! I'm glad you liked it and will use it. Thank you!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Fantastic advice. I can honestly say I never even did the research so had no idea these options existed. Thanks for posting and sharing this valuable information!

    • profile image

      hlwar 3 years ago

      As usual, a very helpful article! I have tried for grants in the [distant] past with absolutely nothing to show for it, not even a "sorry but no" rejection letter in reply - most likely because I didn't know what I was doing! Later in life, I was told by someone that you shouldn't attempt to write proposals or applications yourself, that you should hire a professional grant writer to do this for you. Do you suppose that's true?

      If you have a large social network or fan base, and a definite project already out of the planning stages, another option would be to use this site I've only recently discovered: http://www.kickstarter.com/ You could probably get a "free ride" out of that, too, if you're popular enough.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Liz! I hope in the future you are able to use this for your advantage.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      hlwar no, I don't think it is true. I know writers who make good money writing grant proposals for other people...LOL....I'm not willing to pay a writer to do my writing for me. :)

      Love kickstarter...I have yet to find the time to try a project on it, but I think it's a great idea.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment; loved hearing your thoughts.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      This is my thing, Bill. I wrote many grants while I was teaching and got them funded....as fate would have it.

      I did not even THINK about grants for writers. How awesome is that!! I will need to look into this. thank you as always for sharing what you know.

      Angels and hugs and all are on the way to you this evening. ps Shared.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Wonderful information Bill. I was not aware of the many types of grants available to writers. You did a great synopsis here.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, if you are trained in this then fantastic. You have a leg up on the competition my friend and there are dollars out there with your name on them. Good luck and thank you as always.

      hugs and blessings heading your way

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Crystal...I suspect you would do well writing for a grant. :)

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 3 years ago from Upstate New York

      I have been thinking a lot about "free money" lately, as I think I want to make some life changes. I am not loving the direction that public education is headed. Grants could be helpful. You have got me thinking, Bill.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Oh wow! I've never heard of this but it sounds wonderful. Florence for six months just to write? Why not?

      This is very useful Bill. Thank you for sharing. I'm passing it along as well.

      Voting up++.

      Love from the sky~

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Definitely some food for thought. Quite tasty food at that!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      It had never occurred to me to write a grant related to a personal goal. My experience with grants was working to write one for my son when he was a missionary in the Dominican Republic. One thing I learn is there is a huge amount of help at the public library and there was someone at my library that was very knowledgeable. Great idea and awesome article!

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 3 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      This is very interesting. I checked out the grants for women. Although we missed the deadline for 2013, it will give time to complete everything for 2014 deadline. It would be perfect for the big writing project I have planned. The fellowship grant is up to 25k for individuals. I will give it a try. Thank you for sharing such useful writer info, as always...

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 3 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks again Billy for this great info..you are so generous in helping us become aware of ways to make an income writing.. I didn't know about grants and I'm sure others will benefit from this info..again thanks so much for your hard work, excellent hubs and always looking out for others..voted UUAI and shared everywhere..cheers

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Donnah, I left teaching for that exact reason. Best wishes as you make some important decisions, and thank you for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Cris, thanks for the visit and for sharing. Six months in Italy sounds pretty good to me right about now. :)

      love from Oly

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, free money is indeed very tasty food. Good luck and thanks always my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, thanks for mentioning the help at the library. Great piece of advice.

      Thank you for visiting; you are appreciated.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      bridalletter, I'm so happy that you checked those grants out and are considering them. Best of luck to you, and thank you for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carter, it really is my pleasure. I hope this helps you or someone else, and thank you for your kind words.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Well who would have guessed? I never knew about this, so its great information, not sure if it will be the same over here, but I will definitely check it out, great one billy, nell

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nell, there are writer's grants worldwide, so do a little research on them in the UK...I have no doubt you will find some. Thanks for the visit my friend.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 3 years ago

      Good evening

      Aggrandizing. Thank's Bill. Voting up,useful nd interesting .

      Stay blessed , and continue to be a Blessing, please.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael, it is always good to see you my friend. Blessed I will remain and I will always try to be a blessing. Thank you and blessings to you always.

      bill

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      To begin with, I love your great title . . . How to apply for a free ride! Then it leads to a great hub full of truly useful information here as to grant writing.

      Thanks for sharing your unending knowledge with us all here. You're the best!

      Hugs and blessings, Faith Reaper

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 3 years ago

      I just realized that it is almost tomorrow and you are almost in yesterday. No wonder I cannot get on the same page as you!

      Just wanted to drop in and say you have presented another great hub, chock full of super ideas.

      Stay the course until you make it or drop off chandelier trying.

      DJ.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, I think there is a powerful metaphor in your words, that I am almost in yesterday. LOL I'm not sure what the significance of that statement would be but I find it hilarious.

      Thanks as always; I have something more interesting for you to read tomorrow.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, thank you! Everyone wants free, right? None of us are above a freebie. :)

      Your kind words flatter me and I appreciate them.

      blessings always

      bill

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

      Bill,

      Since few months I'm thinking to apply for fellowship and residential programs. Thanks for this useful and informative article. I will have to bookmark this hub for future reference.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Bill, thank you so much for opening up a whole new world for me and my writing goals. I am familiar with grants, but had never checked into grants for writing. I bookmarked your hub and some of the sites you included. This is very useful and beneficial information you have provided. Well done, and thanks again.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. Too late for me. It take me 14 hrs. a day to support 3 poems a day.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      A great hub once again Billy ;I am now going to check out if there are similar grants over here ; this gem as always voted up and shared onto my FB page 'A Brand New Day'.

      Enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Bill, you captured my attention from the very first (4-letter) word!

      This is a very interesting concept and one that I'd be most interested in pursuing. It's certainly in keeping with that adage about doing what you love to do, and the money will follow.

      Man alive, Bill, you're like the literary equivalent of NPR, bringing us solid information without the commercial fluff. I stand in line with hundreds of others, all of us grateful for the quality and quantity of writers' tips you share with us. Thanks, my friend, and aloha and cool breezes to you and Bev!

      Joe

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glad to hear it, Vinaya! Good luck with your applications and thank you for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Phyllis, your comment is music to my ears. Best of luck to you and thank you for visiting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martin, I appreciate you stopping by anyway. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, I'm sure you will find some; grants are worldwide. Best of luck my friend and thank you.

      love,

      billy

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joe, you never disappoint me...the literary equivalent of NPR....where do you come up with this stuff, Joe? Oh, right, you're a writer! It all makes sense now. LOL

      Thanks buddy! Have a great day and Go M's!

      Aloha

      bill

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Sensei you leave no stone unturned in your quest to make us better writers! Obviously the advice in this hub can have many rewards. You have opened the door for many writers by giving them this information.

      You really are something else. No wonder we follow your every word.

      Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, we have a lot to learn, all of us, and I'm just trying to do my part. The teacher never rests. :) Thank you so much and I hope you have a great day.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 3 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent information, Bill, on grant writing. Back in the day I wrote a grant to fund a project for women in prison and followed every direction meticulously when writing the grant application. It paid off and the grant was funded. So I learned firsthand how important it was to be precise and follow the rules when writing the grant.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, thank you for sharing your own personal experience. I'll have you know that I have started the ebook that you suggested. :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is another gem of information for writers, Bill! Your writing advice hubs are extremely useful. Thank you so much for creating them.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      I definitely should keep this hub in mind for money ideas.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia! As always I appreciate you and your loyalty.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      vkwok, you should indeed my friend. Thank you!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You know, I have heard about this, but never realized that it had anything to do with writing(or photography, perhaps?) it is now on my list of "to-do's...

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, for sure look into it, and look into photography grants as well...the money is there and it might as well have your name on it.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      Well Bill this is right up my alley. Before I stayed at home with my daughter I worked at a med center and research university and did grants administration. I'd help docs with their applications, especially the budget justifications, not the medical part of it. You are so correct about getting one shot at the money. If the application gets messed up, it gets tossed. Grant givers look for mistakes because it helps them get the pile of applications smaller. Also, don't be greedy. I can't tell you how many researchers would ask for far more funds than the grant was for and try to justify them. They would also up costs for items to get extra money. The donor agency/person sees right through that. Really useful hub. I always loved my grant admin days and really enjoyed the application process.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, thank you for confirming this hub with your experiences. There is money out there but you definitely have to play by the rules to get it.

    • profile image

      KendiBanks 2 years ago

      This Is Amazing Advice. So much useful Info!!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Kendi! I appreciate the visit.

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