The Non-Stress Approach to Applying for Writing Grants, Fellowships, and Residencies

Most writers I know can’t make a living on royalties from books or selling short stories to magazines. One way to find money/time for writing is to apply for grants, fellowships, and residencies. You think, “People are just giving way money for writing? Heck yeah!” Then you see the application and spend a few hours crying in the bathroom.

Okay, applying for grants/fellowships/residencies doesn’t have to make you cry. On her blog, Erika Dreifus shares some suggestions for powering through the application process. One tip that I’m taking to heart:

Don’t delay reference requests. I’ll admit that I *hate* having to ask for letters of recommendation (to the point that I’m sometimes dissuaded from submitting applications that require them). But when they can’t be avoided, I try not to delay. I try to request recommendations a minimum of three to four weeks before the recommendations must be filed.”

I hate asking for letters of recommendation and, like Erika, am sometimes dissuaded by apps that require them. And when I do, I inevitably put it off until the last minute and have to ask, “Hi, I know this is last minute, but maybe you could write about how awesome I am and send in that letter like today?” Not fun.

Most people are totally cool writing letters of recommendation, if given enough time. If they can’t do it, they can say so. Usually, they’re excited that you’re trying for a grant and want to help you succeed. It’s not as awkward as you think it is.

Make sure to check out the rest of Erika’s suggestions. The only other point I’d add is to apply to as many things as possible. So what if you get rejected? Usually all it cost you was some time and postage. You never know what might come from applying. Even if you applied last year and got rejected, try again. I know so many writers who were accepted to residencies after their third or fourth try. So don’t stop applying!

Other suggestions? Share them in the comments!

2 thoughts on “The Non-Stress Approach to Applying for Writing Grants, Fellowships, and Residencies

  1. Thanks so much for this post, Annie. And yes, I agree–it’s so important to apply for multiple opportunities. Time can be one limiting factor, unfortunately. Also: application fees (which is why I focus on sharing no-fee opportunities in my newsletter and on my blog–I know how especially precious those can be).

    • Very good point about application fees. I always appreciate hearing about no-fee opportunities. I know that organizations sometimes need reading fees to maintain staff and keep running, but any chance to apply for free is a good one.

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