Wouldn’t you kill for some time alone, free from your day job and life’s distractions, to focus on writing? What if we, as writers, could be PAID to take time away from Life, and just write? That, my friend, would be writer’s heaven.
The good news is: writer’s heaven exists. It’s called fellowships (residencies) and grants. The not-so-good news is: these opportunities are few, and the competition is fierce. The better news is: the process of applying for fellowships and grants is an excellent way to improve your own project (its focus, its purpose, its direction, and how you’re going to reach the finish line). Even if you never win a single fellowship or grant, the thought and effort you put into articulating what you’re doing and why it’s important will serve you well.
To give an example, I’m writing an urban fantasy novel series about two orphan sisters. In my personal life, I’ve always been interested in adoption and foster care, and learning more about the experiences children go through growing up without a stable family. That interest bleeds into my fiction, but until I started thinking about fellowships and grants, I didn’t realize that I could bring the two together. What if my novels could be the start of an awareness campaign and/or fundraiser for orphans and foster care children? I’ve even thought about writing a second, non-fiction book to publish with my fiction series that focuses on the real lives of orphans and foster children. This is exactly the kind of project fellowship and grant-giving organizations are looking to support.
Why just write a story, when you could also use that story to accomplish something great? To help others? To touch and change people’s lives?
I’m not saying you can’t write just for entertainment. But think about it, how many “just entertaining” books are already out there? Millions. How are you going to make yours stand out? Applying for grants/fellowships is not just about getting support for your writing in the form of time and money, but it also helps with publicity. Becoming involved in your community and various projects to help others can create face-time for your book and extra opportunities to share your work.
How you do any of this with your own particular story or project is up to you. However, here are some great resources to get started looking for fellowships and grants. Writing and publishing a book is hard enough on its own. Getting it noticed and gaining a following is harder still. Looking into these opportunities could help you better plan your writing endeavor, and find the focus and direction you need.
The New York Foundation for the Arts’ Source (nyfasource.org)
-online national directory of awards for many kinds of artists
Mira Bartok’s Blog for Artists Writers, and Composers (miraslist.blogspot.com)
-information and resources on grants, fellowships, and residencies
Poets and Writers (pw.org)
-a nonprofit organization that lists awards, competitions, and grants
Funds for Writers E-newsletter (fundsforwriters.com)
-offers a free, and a more extensive paid ($15 a year) newsletter with many funding opportunities
Pen American Center (pen.org)
-directory of grants and awards for writers, subscription $12 a year
(Thanks to 2014 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market for the resource websites. If you haven’t purchased a writer’s market book yet, I highly recommend you do so).
How about you? Do you have an experiences with or advice about grants and fellowships you could share? Thank you in advance for commenting, and for contributing to the writing community!
Sneak Peak: next week’s post will be about how to advance you’re writing career while you’re still working on your first novel. Visit again next week for useful tips and insight into the process. Thanks for reading!