“The development of the proposal took over four months, over 500 emails, late nights, early mornings, conference calls, lots of coffee and many meetings,” writes Christopher Buddle, PhD, on his experience as a co-lead author of a large, collaborative research grant proposal. Sound familiar? He notes this is the story of many scientists as well as academics more broadly.
In a post on SciLogs, Buddle describes the emotional highs and lows of the grant-writing process. He writes:
I was waking up at night with thoughts about the grant, and finding that my daily thoughts often drifted towards the grant, and drifted away from whatever else was going on. I would find myself sitting somewhere, looking vacantly into space, with my mind full of ideas about budgets, collaborators and project design. Emails about the grant were always a top priority, were always answered, and I was consistently pushing what I perceived as lower priority to the side. This meant I was not as responsive to my grad students, I was late on review requests, and many other things slipped.
Why on earth would I invest so much, given that success is not even guaranteed!
His narrative, and a fun graph illustrating points along the emotional roller-coaster ride, reminded me of twin yoga principles abhyasa, showing up and doing your practice, and vairagya, doing so without attachment to the outcomes.
Participating in the grant-writing process brings its own rewards, even if the proposal is unsuccessful. Buddle explains:
It expands your horizons, and gets you thinking about research problems in new and exciting ways. Writing grant proposal can feed the curiosity, and foster creativity. It hones your writing skills, and makes you think about ways to rephrase, re-write and ‘sell’ the importance of your work. Even unsuccessful grant proposal can be worthwhile because they force you to crystallize your thoughts and package things up neatly…