Writing a grant proposal, even with an effective grant team, is a daunting exercise in time management. No matter how much time you think a writing project will take, double it, and then plan your time accordingly.
The actual grant writing takes place after you and your team have established your goals and objectives for your identified needs. You and your team can agree on the problem (need). You know how you plan to go about solving your problem (objectives based on your needs). You have developed methods (activities) that will move you from a problem to a solution. And you have thought through how you plan to evaluate your program and what kind of budget will be needed.
It’s not uncommon to feel frozen in place at this point in time. Even though you have done all of your homework, the request for proposal (RFP) may be intimidating. Your narrative may be limited to twenty pages, double-spaced, but the RFP itself may be close to one hundred pages. Copying the RFP so that you can highlight and read it often is important.
The best way to begin…is to begin. Start by creating a to-do list. Which part of the proposal will you do first? Which part is better put off for another time? Are you the kind of person that works better from an outline? If so, create an outline first. For me, creating the budget first is like creating an outline. It lets me know how far the money will go. With practice, you will get good at turning grant activities into line items on a budget.
After I complete a draft of the budget, I like to begin with an easy part of the proposal. What is easy for me may not be easy for you. So look through the RFP and the scoring rubric (if available) to help you put order to your writing. After I get a piece of the project completed, I try to tackle what I perceive to be a more difficult section.
Develop blocks of time to write that work with your schedule. Plan time allotments. Determine how long you like to work before taking a break.
Use the RFP as your outline to your writing. Scan the directions to determine the exact number of pages that you are allowed to use. Also determine the page layout requirements.. During the writing of your draft, don’t worry about the final layout; you can edit later to make things fit and easy to read.
At times, the project may seem so big that it feels like a black cloud is hovering over your head. Procrastination sets in. The deadline looms. Challenge these thoughts. In reality, there is never a perfect place, time or topic. Do what you need to do to get unblocked. Ask for help, break it down into smaller parts, and challenge your reasons for delay. Go back to your writing outline. Make some progress every day, even if only for a short block of time.