© 2017-2020 by D.A. Navoti

Spring deadlines for grant & residency applications are weeks away. My butt is shifting into gear and already I'm going mad. What keeps me focused, however, aside from my tips & tricks list (read my Part I post) is Gigi Rosenberg's The Artist's Guide to Grant Writing. Her book is full of wisdom and hope, which is much needed after trudging through any application process.

A few quotes from the book:

"How is your project unique? Most funders like projects that solve a problem in a new way." Pg 56
"Why does the world need your project right now? An urgent, well-timed project is most likely to receive funding." Pg 56
"Well-written proposals tell a story, with a beginning, middle, and an end. The beginning is what you've done as an artist previously, the middle is where you are now, and the end is where you want to take your work next." Pg 84
"If your artists statement will appear alongside your work, your audience wants to look inside your process. They want to know what makes you tick." Pg 93

I forget if this book recommends hoarding submitted applications, regardless if they earn you a grant or fellowship, but that's what I do in binder-form. So when application time comes, I can flip through previous applications to see if there's any material I can repurpose or build off of. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't, but it doesn't hurt, nor cost much, to stay organized.

Quick note: although my resources are focused towards grants, my binder is also used to apply for fellowships and residencies. I've found that grant writing advice is transferrable to other artistic applications.

My binder is nothing fancy.

Inside, on the other hand, is an archive of materials I've submitted over the years, like resumes, artists statements, work samples, etc, as well as application instructions. Below is (1) an outdated resume, (2) guidelines for the 2020 CityArtist grant (which I was awarded $5,000 to curate my own performance forthcoming autumn 2020), and (3) notes for the Artist Fund, in which I'm applying again this year.

My binder is also a resource archive of handouts I've collected from various people. I highly recommend checking out the Authors Guild Foundation. They regularly host free trainings in-person and online.

Best of luck on your applications, y'all. And send a few good vibes my way, too!

"Momentum in Life"

For my 36th birthday, I launched 36 goals to accomplish in one year. The pressure of New Year resolutions paralyzes me. But according to Positive Psychology, "Setting goals helps trigger new behaviors, helps guides your focus and helps you sustain that momentum in life." So I focused on curating specific goals on my annual trip around the sun instead.

Six-Month Progress

I'm halfway through my 36th year and in desperate need of a check in. To my surprise, there's been substantial movement with several goals. Here are a few highlights:


  • Attend a writers retreat: self-curated with writer friends in November 2019

  • Launch a writers' movement: a loosely defined goal at the time morphed into Fight For Our Lives, a performance series advocating for communities targeted by divisive politics. Read more here.

  • Obtain a flexible day job to allow more writing time: with a stroke of luck and targeted networking, I found an afternoon teaching gig that frees up my mornings for writing sessions. Read this post for more info about my routine.

In Progress

  • Run a half-marathon (2x): Soooo....come Feb 7th, a buddy and I will know if we qualify for the Canyon De Chelly 55k Ultra in Oct 2020. 55k equals 34 miles, or more than two half-marathons. Wish us luck? Gulp.

  • Deepen my allyship for Trans/Queer/LGBTQ+/Two-Spirit communities: this will never be a "finished" goal. Building off of Fight For Our Lives, I have a secret project that will take my allyship to the next level, and I can't wait! More news to come.

  • Read 12 books in 12 months (on target): Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover, The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli, The Truth About Stories by Thomas King, The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara, Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist, Keep Going, and Show Your Work.

  • Apply to at least 6 grants/fellowships/residencies: my total is 4 submissions thus far, which I earned a spot in the Bend Writers Workshop for spring 2020. The other 3 opportunities are TBA. Note: I purposely specified "apply to" rather than "attend" or "earn" these opportunities, as I don't have control over the decision making process when applying.

  • Attend a Mindfulness Retreat: my day job has a generous professional development package, so I'm using that to strengthen my wellness-ish-ness game.


  • Submit work to 12 publications: this is a big miss. I've only submitted 2 pieces of work, 1 of which got published in Homology Lit. The other is TBA. Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Tweaking Required

  • Increase social media followers: Why I thought increasing my social media "influence" was important to my craft is beyond me. A month into this goal I threw it out. After reading Austin Kleon's book Show Your Work, I readjusted this goal to focus on, well, showing more of my work on social media. As a result, I created this blog!

  • Do 100 Push Ups/Sit Ups/Pull Ups: really?! do you scream masculine fragility much? next! [rolls eyes at myself]

The Next Six Months

As you can see, my goals are a potpourri of this-and-that: building my author platform, strengthening my craftwork, increasing my physical and mental wellness-ish-ness, and advocating for communities-in-need. I'm confident that the next six months will be productive, and I've promised myself I won't beat myself up if I don't finish 100% strong, because, dang, I've done a lot so far [pats myself on the back]. The most important thing is I feel the life momentum I was craving on my 36th birthday: the need to change some of my behaviors, help others, and live well(ish).

Interested in building your own goals?

Here's a goal setting worksheet I use with my business students. Start small, however. Don't feel pressured to match a goal number to your age. Do what feels comfortable, realistic, and above all, empowering to you.

An audience member who attended the residency info session I participated in (see my application tips post) sketched me as a way of saying thank you! What a wonderful and heartfelt gesture this person offered in exchange for the tips & tricks the panelists provided. I was so touched that I even framed the sketch.

The benefit of art-gifting feels old school. With so much emphasis on commercial gift giving, our prime responsibility, as artists, is sharing our talent. For instance, my partner's mother, a poet, writes and then gifts poems every holiday season. When I read her poetic presents every winter, I feel closer to her. The same goes for the sketch of me drawn by Melanie Ball. This is her. This is her art. Distance between us shrunk when she handed me, well, me, or a version of me from her artistic point of view. And I just melted inside!

Want to art-gift for someone special? Here are a few ideas to get started.

  • Make their favorite meal with a twist

  • Write a 100-word story about how you met them

  • Build a photo frame for them

  • Pen original lyrics to their favorite song

  • Sketch them!

Sketch by Melanie Ball. Thank you!

This gift is special because 3 years ago I attended the same info session at Hugo House as an audience member. I hadn't attended any residencies, didn't have any fellowships, and hadn't earned grants. I wouldn't have earned my achievements without those panelists sharing their wisdom 3 years ago. Merci!

Panelists speaking at Hugo House. Photo by Joyce Chen, Co-Founder & Editor at The Seventh Wave. Pictured left to right, Gabrielle Bates, Michelle Goodman, Donna Miscolta, me, and Jane Hodges, Founding Director of Mineral School.

Ps. Good luck on those applications, y'all!

D.A. Navoti

About the Writer

D.A. NAVOTI (@da.navoti) is a creative nonfiction and poetic prose storyteller. He's a 2020 Seattle CityArtist recipient and a former fellow at Hugo House and Jackstraw Cultural Center. Read More... 

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