The economy has been hard on everyone, but especially if you are a writer. With so many people losing their jobs in different industries, the writing community has been affected also. Publishers and magazines have felt the pressure of the economy, which means writers have not been as successful financially like every other working person.
When most people lose their jobs they can file for unemployment, whereas writers cannot get unemployment because they are self-employed. If a magazine shuts down or cuts back and does not want to use you anymore, you are just out of work.
There is one thing writers can do when they have sudden changes in their lives, whether it’s a magazine shutting down or losing their main income. If your writing income will not support you or your family, you can apply for a grant. A grant is money bestowed for a particular reason that you do not have to pay back.
Why I Applied for a Hardship Grant
I was a single mother who had a son with Down syndrome. I was also a freelance writer. My main source of income was the income I received from being his caretaker. It supported us very nicely, along with my writing income. My son got very sick and eventually died. I lost my main source of income at the same time I lost my only son. I didn’t know how I was going to survive. I had been out of the job market for years from staying at home to take care of him and to write.
I started looking for a job, because my freelance income was not enough, but had no luck in the job market. The money I had saved was starting to run out. One day I was researching online for places to sell some articles I had written, when I came across a site that had grants for writers. I stopped my research and started reading about how writers could get grants to help them survive financially during their hardships.
How I Applied for a Hardship Grant
Grants are available to help through hardships, and there are grants designed especially for writers. Many grants have specific rules for different hardships, but I found one grant whose guidelines were attainable and perfect for me or any freelance writer.
Writers Emergency Assistance Fund
Writers Emergency Assistance Fund (www.asja.org/for-writers/weaf) gives financial assistance to freelance writers who have written articles just for magazines. If your career as a freelance writer has been working for different magazines and you are out of work, this organization is perfect for you.
Since 1982 The American Society of Journalists and Authors has sponsored the Writers Emergency Assistance Fund. To date the organization has provided $400,000 in emergency funds.
I followed their guidelines and applied for a grant. Within two weeks I got a phone call from the organization to discuss my situation in full details. We talked about what happened in my personal life and discussed my life as a writer, from how long I had been writing, to all the places I have written articles for. After talking for an hour, she told me to send more documentation about my circumstances and she would take it to their Board where they would decide if I could get a grant and how much.
I applied with them around the end of November. One week after the first phone call, I received a call telling me that I was approved for a grant in the maximum amount. I got another call on December 20th to tell me they were mailing the check. Two days before Christmas I received my check, which was the best Christmas present I had ever gotten.
Where to Find Hardship Grants
Writers can find many organizations offering grants for different predicaments and for certain demographic areas, including organizations that offer interest-free loans if you need to borrow money. If you do your research, you’ll be amazed at how many sites are accessible for your personal state of affairs.
Sustainable Arts Foundation
Non-profit organization Sustainable Arts Foundation offers cash awards to help writers with families pursue their creative ambitions.
If you are a writer with a family and you need help, Sustainable Arts Foundation (www.sustainableartsfoundation.org) provides financial support for writers with families.
TURN2US has a searchable database of over 3,000 welfare and educational grants.
An organization called TURN2US (www.turn2us.org.uk) helps people access money that could be available for them through different grants, welfare benefits, and other sources.
The PEN Writers’ Emergency Fund
The PEN Writers’ Emergency Fund provides up to $2000 to professional writers who face severe, sudden monetary problems.
Two other organizations, The Haven Foundation (www.thehavenfdn.org) and Pen American Center Writer’s Fund (www.pen.org/writers-emergency-fund) both have emergency funds for writers with serious financial difficulties. These organizations are set-up to subsidize your income until you can get back on your feet.
Where to Find Grants for Particular Areas of Interest
Writers might need a grant for a retreat, a fellowship, or one just for women writers. These different grants can give you funds for a particular area of interest and help supplement your income to work on a unique writing project.
The Norman Mailer Center
The Norman Mailer Center grants month-long fellowships to writers of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
For instance, Norman Mailer Retreats (nmcenter.org) offers residencies for writers during the fall, winter, and spring for up to two months, where writers can work independently at a home shared with two other writers in Provincetown, MA.
The Mayer Foundation
Founded in 2002 The Mayer Foundation offers economic-relief to financially-distressed individuals.
Another speciality grant is offered by Mayer Foundation (foundationcenter.org). Writers can apply for this grant if they have an economic need from low income, a natural disaster, loss of employment or death, or need healthcare or medical coverage. The grant ranges from $2,500.00 to $5,000.00.
An excellent website to find grants for writers is FundsforWriters (www.fundsforwriters.com/grants) where you can review grants that match your personal needs.
Before You Apply for a Grant
Before you apply for a grant, read the guidelines carefully. You have to apply to the right grant for your hardship, just as you would send a query letter to the right magazine, or to the right agent for your book.
Be prepared to show proof of your writing career, along with clips, two years of tax returns showing you filed Schedule C, and other documents that will verify your course of events. The length of time to process a grant application depends on the organization, but it’s worth the while if you are going to receive funds. A grant can save you financially, give you funds for an appropriate need, and most importantly, it will allow you to continue to write.
About the author:
Rose Walker is a freelance writer, consultant, travel journalist and author. Internationally published in Great Britain with a five article miniseries on PR and Marketing for writers in The New Writer, and the author of The Four Steps of Public Relations and Marketing For Writers. She has published over 200 articles for online media and print and the owner of Rose Walker Writing Consultants.