Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Facing the Blank Page (or, Beginning to Write)

MaryEllen Bergh, our Grant Coach, is a master at helping people move beyond the blocks to success in grant writing. Here are some of her thoughts on getting passed writer's block and starting to writing process:

Beginning to write is frequently the most difficult part of the writing process. You are looking at that blank page and no words come to you. How can you free your creative mind when you are stuck before you even begin?

The grant deadline is looming…you have done all your research and have copious notes for project design and expected outcomes. You’re ready – really ready – and there is the blank page that says “1 of 40”. You realize that at least 20 minutes has gone by and you haven’t started yet. What can you do when you’re staring at that blank sheet of paper with visions of sugarplums dancing in your head? When this happens to me (oh yes, I have extensive experience in this scenario!), there are several techniques that I use.

One of my favorite strategies (introduced to me by Kelly Stone in Thinking Write) is to visualize the words flowing out of my brain like water, streaming down my arms, through my hands, and onto the keyboard. When I am really seeing those words flowing freely, I like to begin with the “story”. Who is my client (or “who are we?” if you are writing for your organization) and what makes them unique?

Next, I take a few moments to visualize the proposed program. What will the design look like…feel like…what activities do I see? If I am not able to easily visualize the design, I sometimes draw a graphic that helps me clarify the big picture. Now I am moving through the next section. As this is one of several drafts, these first pages may look entirely different when finalized; however, this process always gets me “unstuck” and provides the motivation and focus to get started.

Remember to celebrate the creativity that is takes to make the blank page come to life!

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About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.