CREATIVE WRITING FELLOWSHIPS: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where do I find the required forms for my application?
A: Once you have created a Workspace in Grants.gov, you will see both required forms listed—the Application for Federal Domestic Assistance (Individual) and the Attachments Form. See instructions on how to create a Workspace.
You can either fill out the required forms online by using the Webforms, or you can download them to your computer, fill them out, and upload them to your Workspace.
To fill these forms out online, click the button that says “Webform.” You must hit the “save” button at the bottom of each form once it is completed.
If you choose to download the forms, be sure your version of Adobe Reader is compatible with the Grants.gov system. You can find a list of supported versions of Adobe Reader here, or contact Grants.gov directly to check if your version is compatible. You can also try using the Webforms, which allow you to complete the forms online without downloading and do not require you to have Adobe Reader.
Q: Which internet browser should I use to file my application?
A: According to Grants.gov, the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari are supported. If you have trouble downloading the application forms, try using a different browser or using the Webforms instead. If you are still having trouble accessing the forms, contact the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726.
Q: Why can't I find the attachments on your website?
A: You'll only find the attachments form on Grants.gov once you’ve created your Workspace. Although the attachments form has 15 attachment buttons, you will submit only two (2) attachments with your application:
- Your Writing Sample
- Your Publications to Establish Eligibility
You can create these attachments using any word processing software.
Q: The documents I uploaded into my attachments form disappeared. How do I avoid this?
A: If you are accessing the attachments form as a Webform, be sure to click the “save” button at the bottom of the screen before closing the form. If you are downloading the attachments form, be sure to save it, and all your attachments, directly on your computer. Once you have downloaded the attachments form, you will work on your application offline and will only access the Internet to submit your completed application.
Q: How do I upload my Writing Sample and Publications to Establish Eligibility using the attachments form?
A: It's similar to attaching a document to an email. On the attachments form, click the “Add Attachment” button and select the correct file from your computer.
Q: The character limit for the project description box on the Application for Federal Assistance form doesn't give a lot of room to describe my project. Can I add more information elsewhere?
A: That's not necessary. If you've reached the character limit for this box, you've written too much. This information is for staff use only to ensure you will use your fellowship to support your writing; the review panel will not see it (the panelists will only see your writing sample). Your application will be judged only on your writing sample, so we suggest spending more time on that portion of your application and less time on crafting your project description.
Q: How do I determine fellowship start and end dates?
A: The start and end dates refer to the official beginning and ending dates of the fellowship period (known as the period of performance). If selected for a fellowship, the NEA will only award funds to support fellowship activity within these dates, even though some aspects of your overall project may take place before or after the period of performance. If you have questions about your period of performance, please contact the literary arts staff.
Q: Can I submit my resume in addition to my other forms?
A: No. The only part of the application the review panel will see is your writing sample. The panel will not know your age, gender, race or ethnicity, education level, or whether you are an established or emerging writer.
Q: How do I determine my congressional district? What if I'm an American living abroad?
A: Visit the House of Representatives website at www.house.gov and use the "Find Your Representative" tool. Enter the ZIP code that corresponds to your permanent address to locate your congressional district. If the address on your application is outside the United States, enter 00-000 for your congressional district.
Q: My postal code is in red after I type it. Does this mean there's a problem?
A: Yes. The form requires the full 9-digit ZIP code (00000-0000) that was assigned by the U.S. Postal Service. If you do not know your full ZIP code, you can look it up at https://tools.usps.com/zip-code-lookup.htm.
Q: What happens if my name appears on or in my writing sample material?
A: Your application will be ineligible and will not be reviewed by the panel. Double check to make sure neither your first nor last name appears anywhere within the writing sample material. The writing sample filename, which will include your first and last name, will not affect eligibility.
Q: Will I be able to update my application after the deadline?
A: No. No changes or additions to the application or writing sample will be accepted once you submit your application. If you feel you've made an error on your application and it is before the deadline, you can make corrections by submitting an entirely new application. Only your most recently submitted application will be reviewed.
Q: How do I create a PDF?
A: The simplest way is to use the "Save As" option in your word processing software and choose "Save as a PDF" (or similar wording). You may also use a PDF conversion program. To learn more, go to PDF Conversion Programs.
Q: Should I list everything I've published during the eligibility timeframe in my Publications to Establish Eligibility document?
A: You are only required to list as many publications as you need to meet the publication eligibility requirements. You may list additional publications if you are unsure whether certain publications meet our publication requirements. If you have published books, list those first. This document is used for internal purposes only, and will not be reviewed by the advisory panel.
Q: I don't have all the requested information for a publication I’m using to establish eligibility. Is that a problem?
A: Not necessarily. List as much of the requested information as possible. NEA staff will check your publications document as part of the eligibility screening process. If the Literary Arts staff can't find one of the items on your list, we'll contact you for proof of publication. If you can't provide that proof, the publication will not count toward your eligibility. If you’re unsure whether or not you have enough information for a specific publication, contact the Literary Arts staff.
Q: My book will be released soon after the fellowship application deadline. Can I use it to establish my eligibility?
A: No. In order to apply, you must meet all eligibility requirements by the deadline date. Reader's advance copies, galleys, uncorrected proofs, and commitments for future publication or production do not fulfill the requirements. We use the publisher's official publication date to determine eligibility. Check with your publisher if you have questions about this date. No exceptions are made to the eligibility requirements. If your book will be published after the deadline, you must use other publications to establish your eligibility or consider applying at a later date.
Q: I'm a prose writer. Can I apply for a poetry fellowship?
A: If you can establish your eligibility with the required number of published poetry pieces, yes. Many writers publish in various genres. Though the writing sample you submit for review must be poetry, you are not be limited to writing in one genre should you receive a fellowship.
Q: Can the NEA help me get my book published?
A: No. The Fellowships Program is designed to help published creative writers set aside time to write; there is no guarantee that it will lead to publication of a book. In order for your writing sample to be reviewed by our panel, you must meet our eligibility requirements.
Q: I'm self-published. Am I eligible for a fellowship?
A: For determining eligibility, we do not accept any publication by presses that publish work without competitive selection or professional editing. If you feel your publication may fall outside of these parameters, call the Literature Fellowships Hotline for guidance.
Q: I'm a blogger. Am I eligible for a fellowship?
A: In general, no. Personal blogs on individual websites may not be used to establish eligibility. However, curated blogs may qualify. Contact the Literature Fellowships Hotline if you feel your blog post fits into this category.
Q: Do I have to submit my application in English?
A: An application must be submitted in English; however, your writing sample may be in a language other than English, as long as it is accompanied by an English translation. You may translate it yourself or have someone else do it for you. If you wish to submit your writing sample in a language other than English, contact firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks prior to the deadline for more guidance.
Q: How will my application be evaluated?
A: Creative Writing Fellowship applications are reviewed through an anonymous process by an advisory panel of writers that recommends awards based on the artistic excellence and artistic merit of the submitted writing sample. The NEA assembles a different advisory panel every year, each diverse with regard to geography, race and ethnicity, gender, and artistic points of view.
Q: Can I receive feedback on my writing sample?
A: Due to the high volume of application we receive in this category, we do no provide individual feedback on writing samples.
Q: Will you accept joint applications?
A: No. Fellowships are individual grants.
Q: I'm on faculty at a university. May the fellowship go directly to my university so that I may buy time off from teaching?
A: No. Fellowships are individual awards; all funds are dispersed directly to the fellow. However, once our fellows receive funds, it is up to them how they wish to spend it, as long as it relates to their writing and the activity/costs are compliant with the General Terms & Conditions for the award. A fellow could pay his/her university directly, in other words.
Q: Which part of my application carries the most weight with the panel?
A: The most important piece of your application is your writing sample. It should be representative of your best recent work, published or unpublished. It must be work for which you have sole artistic responsibility. Choose your writing sample carefully.
Q: Can plans for use of the fellowship change, within reason?
A: Yes. Read the General Terms and Conditions for Literature Fellowships for more information.
If you have questions about your application not addressed in the FAQ, contact the Literary Arts staff at 202-682-5034 or email LitFellowships@arts.gov.