Take small bites

28 Sep

Today I had the first of what will likely be many meetings over the next month to work on A Large Federal Grant. “Large” means a lot of things. Large as in the page limit for the narrative alone is 75 pages, not counting required attachments. Large as in a 100-page RFP, not counting forms. Large as in how much aspirin do I have? Large as in up to $500,000 a year for five years.

You now have my attention.

The meeting today included some one-on-one time with the Program Director, wherein we pep talked each other a fair amount. We also divvied up sections and made writing assigments, but oh, there will be pep talk.

What we both realized was that the 75 page-limit is for doubled-spaced narrative. So we’re really talking about 37.5 pages total. Each section was assigned page limits by Large Federal Funder, making the whole thing more managable. So instead of 75 pages of blank space, we have 37.5 pages of narrative limited to three pages here and 12 pages there. Comfort in the face of panic, indeed.

If you’re not given these kinds of handy parameters, create your own. I have heard of some folk who use the scoring matrix as a guide. For example, say you have a 20-page limit and section one has a total possible score of 25, section two is set at 20, section three at 40 and section four at 15. You take the value of each section, multiply that by .10 and multiply that by your total page limit. Which means you allot five pages to section one, four pages for section two, eight pages for section threee and three pages for section four.

Lesson learned today: when given an elephant and a fork, take small bites. Cheer on the person next to you and that pachyderm will be history by the deadline.

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