Grant Writing Tip: Review & Rewrite

Thank You, Mrs. Ellberg!

I attended a very small high school, with just a few more than 100 in my graduating class. But I was fortunate to have excellent teachers, especially in the English Department. I already thanked Mr. Holmes. Today I want to thank Mrs. Ellberg. I enjoyed her class for many reasons, but I am most thankful that she taught me to edit my own writing.

Repeat After Me. . . . .

I will not fall in love with my own writing. I will not fall in love with my own writing. I will NOT fall in love with my own writing.

Good writing rarely happens in the first draft. You need to rewrite again and again to whittle away the extraneous and make your point as succinctly as possible. Tell the grant reviewers what they need to know. Paint a word picture when it’s appropriate. But know when enough is enough.

Just Say No

As an homage to Nancy Reagan who led the “Just Say No” campaign in the 1980s, I plead with you to resist those urges that weaken your grant proposals.

  • Don’t be satisfied with your first draft.
  • Don’t keep writing until you reach the word or character limit.
  • Don’t confuse your readers with unneeded info.

Painful Cuts

If you want to become an effective grant writer, you need to learn how to edit your own work. Even if you took the time to review and rewrite your first—even your second—draft, there may be times when you need to cut sections of your grant proposal. Deleting carefully crafted paragraphs may be painful, but doing so may be the only way to comply with required page or character limits.

Try These Suggestions

  • Print the document, then wait a couple hours.
  • Grab a pen and read the text aloud, marking sections that need to be revised.
  • Watch for typos, punctuation errors, acronyms that need to be spelled out, discrepancies in font size and line spacing, etc. You want to eliminate anything that will distract the grant reviewer.
  • Also, listen for the flow of your writing.
  • Try standing—or even walking—as you read aloud. The combination of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic input helps you notice aspects of your writing that you may not otherwise pick you up on.

The Next Step

Now that you’ve improved your proofreading and editing skills, it’s time for Tip #7, making your grant proposal reader-friendly. Read more in my next blog post.