Writers Bloc talks to Alison Croggon about how to write a proposal that will wow funding bodies.


A piece of advice: don’t look at Alison Croggon’s resume unless you're having a high self-esteem day. She is a novelist, poet, critic and opera librettist. Despite the breadth of her career, she is highly successful in every field with the Australian Book Review describing her as “one of the most powerful lyric poets writing today.”

Croggon also boasts a great deal of experience and success on the grant circuit. She has received seven writing grants throughout her career, has acted as a peer for the Australian Council as well as on various Victorian Arts panels. In preparation for Alison’s upcoming short course on grant writing, we talk emerging writers and how, in an industry where nothing is certain, to secure that grant.

how to write a proposal

Would you give us an overview of what you’ll be covering in the course?

I’ll be giving the lowdown on what writing grants are, where you can find them, and how they should be approached. 

 What is the most important element in a grant application? 

The most important thing is to understand that applying for a grant isn’t the same as writing! It requires a different set of skills, and is pitched to a different purpose.

 When is the right time in a writer or arts practitioner’s career to start applying for grants?

It’s never a wrong time. I always figure that the only thing you have to lose is time, and almost no one gets a grant first go. The more you apply, the more you begin to understand how to do it. So, the earlier you get your practice applications in, the better.

 How long should we be spending on an application? Is it a process that takes weeks or an afternoon?

It really depends on the grant, since some are more complicated than others, but if you’re going to apply, you should take the time to ensure you do the best you can.

 What is the most common mistake writers make when putting together an application?

Probably it’s telling the funders how much they need the money! They don’t want to know how poor you are: they just want to know if you will fulfil the project you are proposing. And never, ever assume that you will get the grant and make plans on that basis. Grants are hard to get, and they’re never guaranteed, even for the most experienced applicants.

 Where should writers, particularly emerging, focus their efforts if they want to be successful? Should they stick to grants and fellowships specifically for emerging writers or try applying for a broad range of grants?

If there are specific grants for emerging writers, it’s sensible to apply for those. Grants are always highly competitive, and otherwise you’re putting yourself in the same pool as much more experienced writers. 

how to write a proposal

Looking to write a grant? You can find a list of open fellowships and grants here and more advice on grant writing here. Alison Croggon will be presenting her course ‘How to Write a Grant’ on Wednesday July 19 at 8pm EST. Generously supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, you can sign up to attend the free online webinar here

Katerina Bryant's picture

Katerina Bryant

Katerina Bryant is a writer based in Adelaide. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Griffith Review, Kill Your Darlings and The Lifted Brow, amongst others. She edits nonfiction for Voiceworks and Antic New Writing. Her essay, ‘A Pig in Mud’ was shortlisted for the 2016 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers. She tweets at @katerina_bry.