>Michelle V. Rafter published an article last week in her WordCount blog that is a real heads-up for freelancers. She makes the point that we can get so busy with queries and deadlines that we don’t pay attention to the possibilities of grants and fellowships to fill out our resumes and our wallets.
I’ll let you read the details on her blog, which includes some very helpful links, but let’s ponder the subject for a minute. Sure, we want to write and get published and paid for it as quickly as possible. Perhaps we’re done with our formal education. But you can always learn more, plus having a grant or a fellowship can give you the mental and financial space to pursue a subject in depth or to keep trying when the assignments aren’t exactly pouring in.
Most grants are awards of cash given to writers who show talent and financial need. Usually there’s an extensive application process requiring you to send samples of your work and explain what you’ll use the money for. That part is a pain, but it’s definitely worth it.
Fellowships often send you away from home to work and study. They may be awarded for specific projects, such as a series of articles on a particular topic. If you read down through the comments in Rafter’s blog, you’ll find that some of us who protest that we can’t leave home for various reasons can still go after fellowships that don’t require long absences.
Rafter also notes that lots of newspapers are laying off newsroom staff. Amen to that. In fact, yesterday I read about a New Mexico paper cutting 16 jobs, and that’s a small cut compared to what many other newspapers have done lately. In this troubled economy, large numbers of hugely qualified journalists are being released. What are these newly unemployed journalists going to do until they find other jobs? Freelance, of course, and they have the advantage of contacts, clips and experience that freelancers who have not held staff positions don’t have.
That means we freelancers have to work even harder to compete, with great queries and the best writing we can do. Being able to say we were awarded a grant or fellowship from a prestigious organization definitely gives us more clout in a tough market.
In addition to the sites listed by Rafter, also check out Hope Clark’s Funds for Writers site , which lists lots of grants, fellowships and other opportunities.
So, go for it.