Saturday, June 5, 2010

Yes, It May Be "Old School," but Plan Before You Write

I think the ubiquitous use of word processing computer programs has made people forget the importance of planning before you write.  In the old days of grant writing using a typewriter, you really had to think through your writing first because correcting errors was not very easy.  Even when it became easier to correct minor errors, you couldn't move paragraphs around or restructure the text without retyping the whole page or section.

So what did we do back then? We developed an outline before we started to write.  We did the research, fleshed out the ideas, and filled in the outline until we were pretty sure about what we wanted to write and the order in which we wanted to write it. Then we wrote a first draft - sometimes by hand, sometimes on the typewriter. Revising the first draft consisted of marking it all up and then carefully retyping the document with all of the re-writes and corrections made.

Sure, it seems like it's a lot easier to compose on the computer, and it's absolutely easier to make changes, but it has also created a generation of really lazy grant writers and program developers. Instead of really developing the ideas in a proposal and drafting an outline for a plan before writing, folks just start writing with a few ideas in place, knowing they can fill in the rest later. The result is often incomplete, disjointed ideas, and plans that don't make logical sense.

Also, even  though it's easy to make changes using a computer, reworking a 50 to 100 page program narrative with multiple complex design changes is definitely not easy. In fact it's easier just to hold off on the writing until the planning is complete and the ideas have been solidly developed.

Many of those early steps in the writing process - like outlining - may seem like a throw back to the old days of typewriters, but they are really not.  They are the cornerstones of idea development. They can make the difference between a really good grant proposal and a sloppy one.

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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.