How to get a writing grant…in just two easy steps!

As far as I can gather, getting financial support for your writing project works like this.

1. At 27, after failing to become an actor in Los Angeles (because you only spent two days there), you get a coach to Canada and fail to become a successful carpenter. You fail to become a successful carpenter because you’re not very good at carpentry, you’re too scared to climb ladders and you keep laughing at your boss’s face when he hammers in nails. After being fired, you leave Canada and head to Mallorca and make a film about a man who thinks he’s both Clint Eastwood and the King of Spain. After six weeks of filming every day, you become a bit heady and have to move back to the UK and medication. Back home, and on medication, you visit Bournemouth library and happen upon a book called Directory of Grant Making Trusts. This is good, you think, there may be grants available to filmmakers (you assume, wrongly, that you’re a filmmaker now). There is, however, a problem. There is always a problem. The book appears pretty much impenetrable. This is because you didn’t read the ‘How to use this directory’ section at the beginning of the directory. After wrestling with the guide for about 30 minutes you give up, reasoning that the problem doesn’t lie with you, but with the book. You decide not to apply for a grant. That’ll show someone, you think. About three months later you suffer what may or may not be a breakdown. You write about the whole experience – the filming, the breakdown – for Bizarre magazine. It’s your first feature. You ask the editor on the phone if you can be paid up front and he does his best not to laugh. Two years later, when you meet the editor at a party, you claim that asking for payment up front was ‘a joke’, but he can’t remember the incident and goes off to talk to someone else.

2. At 35, after failing to become a reliable husband in London (because you only spent four years there and didn’t really have enough time for your jokes to bed in or for you to hit your sexual peak), you relentlessly get coaches between Bournemouth and London and attempt to pitch the world. You fail at this because – well, there isn’t the time right now, but you fail at this. One day you visit Bournemouth library and head straight for the section which houses the 2010/2011 edition of the Directory of Grant Making Trusts. The first bit of the directory is entitled ‘How to use this directory’, but it looks a bit too long and complicated so you skip it assuming, wrongly, that you read it back in 2003 and have probably retained the information. After half an hour wrestling with the book you go outside and smoke – and hugely enjoy – a cigarette. You come back from your enjoyable cigarette and inexplicably find three trusts which give grants to individuals working on book projects. You like looking at the numbers which run from £500 to £10,000. But you don’t apply according to the guidelines they set out. Oh no, not you. Fuck that. Play by their rules? No way. Far too uncool for a maverick dicksplash writer like you. No way are you going to apply in the manner they suggest which is probably helpful both for them and the applicant. No. Instead, you write a series of long, winding, seemingly carefree applications full of crap jokes that aren’t really jokes. You sit back and wait for the three cheques.

See? Grants. Who knew grant writing could be such fun? Not me. But whilst I’m waiting for my three cheques to roll in, if anyone else has any information on grants – and please, this isn’t an invitation to cut and paste Wikipedia entries on Eddie Grant, Russel Grant or Ulysses S Grant. Or Grant Mitchell* – then please feel free to share it.

*It is really.


9 responses to “How to get a writing grant…in just two easy steps!

  1. I am the King of Spain!

  2. Hi Pitchy,

    You could try the Royal Literary Fund. They provide grants for writers in need. You’ve probably already heard of them.

    I’ll probably have to phone them myself soon. I think I’m about to quit my latest crappy office job. Or I’ll get sacked for not kissing enough ass. My boss has stopped talking to me which isn’t the best sign. Still, I’ve got the artists and writers yearbook to fall back on. Fuck!

    0207 353 7150

  3. Reading the instructions/`how to` page/user handbook are all anathema to blokes, tough guy blokes at least. Julian Clarey will read the `how to` page, Vinnie Jones will not. . . . . not in view of others anyway.
    In my vast life experience I`ve tossed aside a whole heap of instructions/`how . . . . . .` etc. always eager to display manly “I know how this fucker works” capabilities.
    I could take over your Pitch Blog and list a massive catalogue of “Should`ve read the instructions Dummy” failures.
    Sadly Pitch, you may have to grasp the Clarey attitude and go back to the page that starts “Please read `How to use this guide` before expecting cheques from us”

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  5. Hi Pitchy
    It seems there is nothing you cant cope with at the moment!
    Enjoy your smoking! Enjoy your strolling! Just say no to the banana’s!
    The rainbow is nearly here!

  6. Thanks everyone. I like to display my ‘I know how this fucker works’ capabilities too Old Bloke. Love to, in fact. Are we related?
    Chris – hadn’t heard of them before, but I’m going to try the Royal Literary Fund. And if you lose your job, come and hang out on the streets of Paris with me. If we’ve both got a W&A Yearbook, we’ll be fine. I’m sure of it.

  7. What’s all this talk of Paris? What have those camembert muching conceders got to offer? Come to Sudan, it’s a nice and safe place to let your pitchy juices flow. And with 50 lashes per alcoholic drink consumed you’ll be fighting fit by the time you get home.

  8. How about doing some time? The Writers in Prison Network – slogan: the creative arts are the only legal way to escape – has plenty of advice here: As one writer in this field says: “It’s an alien atmosphere with its own set of smells and sounds…” The smells? Imagine! Mind you, I’ve just noticed the pay amounts to £14.70 an hour. Not really the same as a fat grant, so perhaps not such a good suggestion after all. Perhaps you have a do-gooding side?

  9. Thanks a million you two: prison, then Sudan.
    That sounds like I’m being sarcastic, but I’m really not. The Writers in Prison Network is definitely being applied to. Thanks EM.

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