As I’m writing the grant proposal for the Neighborhood Stories Indexing Project, I am encountering some challenges that – I think – are not specific to my project. I’ll list them here, in the hope that my fellow grant-writers might have some answers to my questions, and that it might help them feel less alone is their process.
- I realized that writing about a digital project in a simple, accessible language is harder than I thought. After being immersed in three semesters of DH terminology, trying to explain an online indexing project feels like explaining technology to my parents (I know you all can relate!). I think this is a common problem in academia: we are so focused on our field, we mostly talk about it with people in our field, and it never occurs to us that the “outside world” might have some trouble understanding DH, DMPs, GIS, topic modeling, and all the terms that are very familiar to us.
Any tips on this? I am still trying to write as if I’m explaining this project to my mom – with the added goal of getting some money for the project. Easy enough, right?
- Writing a grant forces you to think about EVERY phase of your project, even the ones you can’t really predict yet, or the ones you didn’t want to think about (who enjoys writing a Data Management Plan, seriously). I guess it’s also a good thing: when I wrote the proposal for the NYC Community Fridge Archive, it worked as a good roadmap for the DH Praxis class. Hopefully, once classes and the showcase are over, I’ll be able to sit with my thoughts and figure out the phases of the project I have no idea about.
- Writing a grant is HARD. It’s time-consuming, boring, and lonely, and it makes me appreciate everyone who’s ever won a grant because man, it is not fun to write one. I think that part of the problem is that I’m used to working on Neighborhood Stories with a team of people: having to be by myself and write about a collective effort seems weird. I know that for the actual grant proposal I’ll have the support of the Neighborhood Stories team, but this phase feels harder because I don’t have someone to share my ideas and doubts with.
- I realized I’m taking myself WAY too seriously. For some reason, the fact that I’m writing a grant proposal and not a paper puts so much pressure on this assignment. I wish we had had some low-stakes assignments to write parts of a proposal, so that the task to write a whole Narrative wouldn’t feel so overwhelming now. I am trying to think about this assignment as the first draft of the grant proposal, but being a perfectionist, it’s still challenging to take the pressure off the task.
With this said, I’m looking forward to the project presentations tonight. I’m sure everyone will do great!