Seven Steps to Success

31st May 2022
5 min read
1st June 2022
Developing Your Creative Practice

We’ve already established the importance of timing when it comes to the Arts Council’s Developing Your Creative Practice (DYCP) programme which offers financial support for writers looking to re-shape their work. As the provision is set to run until 2026, there’s ample time to get everything just right. This current blog will look at the seven key components you’ll need for a strong proposal. Remember, each one must be in place before you can submit.

But first, here are some other useful pointers.

Always ensure your own creative practice is front and centre of the application. Tell them from the outset what type of writer you are, what you’ve produced and how you intend to grow, develop and ultimately transform your writing practice over the life of the project.  A good proposal, one with a reasonable chance of success, must connect your current work with where you’d like to be in say a year’s time. Outline a trajectory that will take you from point A to point B, but remember this is a personal story. The more specific the better.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the journey, or how you will manage the risks and challenges you’ll encounter along the way. Before applying I absorbed as much detail as possible which included studying the guidance notes, attending workshops, reading all the case studies and listening to the opinions of friends and peers. Then I chose to lie down in a quiet place, closed my eyes and imagined where my writing might end up – on some level I knew it had to be my own story. It is the hardest but the most essential part of all, but I’ve listed some suggestions below to help you define what you’re trying to achieve.  

Are you...

Transitioning from poetry to prose?

Turning a short story into a novel, or a novel into a stage play?

Experimenting with genre, structure or form?

Working across different media including emerging technologies?

Engaging mentor, editor, a new illustrator for a graphic novel perhaps?

Or trying in some way to combine a number of these elements?

The possibilities, as you can appreciate, are endless. But once you have a clear outline, it’s time to write a more detailed description.



We’ve already looked at the creative practice, the core of your submission, but there are three other factors that need to be considered. These must be balanced against one another to avoid your proposal appearing lopsided. Let’s look at each one in turn.


You’ll want to showcase your portfolio of work, which might include, but isn’t limited to, published work, awards, anthologies, residencies, blogs, press-cuttings, any collaborations with publishers, events, appearances and much more.

All of this will help to demonstrate your standing as a writer. The more you can include in your application, the better.



Be ambitious with your project. You are applying for a grant of up to £10k, so think big and bold! What would you use this grant for?

  • Research
  • Allow you time to create new work
  •  Travel including outside the UK
  • Professional training
  • Develop future ideas
  • Networking
  • Mentoring

Which combination of the above apply to you? Well, I included them all.


This is the most common reason that many well-constructed, innovative applications fail. Think for a moment how creative people are often described: spontaneous, instinctive, inventive, dynamic, intuitive. Well, we need to add the word competent to the list. You need to demonstrate it within your application by showing how you plan to structure the work into different phases and how you will manage each one in turn. Describe how you will keep a log of your work, set milestones, keep to a budget and stick to your plan.

Maintaining a balance between these three core assumptions gives you the best possible chance of submitting a successful application. Most writers can come up with an ambitious proposal, but fail because they can’t demonstrate sufficient competence to deliver it successfully.

So, before you press the submit button here are the Seven Steps you’ll need in place

  1. An extract of your work - typically prose fiction up to five pages
  2. A letter in support of your proposal, written by someone other than you
  3. A description of you and your creative practice (300 words)
  4. An explanation of the project you want to undertake (250 words)
  5. Answer why this project is important for your practice at this time (250 words)
  6. Attach a project budget (up to £10K)
  7. Attach a project timeline (up to 12 months)

Next up: a deeper analysis of the Seven Steps

Michael Hobbs has always been an avid reader of fiction and has written some occasional pieces - some published & on-line – having spent nearly twenty years in the creative sector in and around the North West. However it was his recent experience with Penguin Books that gave him the confidence to pursue his work more actively. In late 2020 he was shortlisted for the WriteNow programme for new and aspiring writers after sending them an extract from a novel in progress. Although he didn’t make the final list, their feedback encouraged Michael to apply successful for an Arts Council England programme in 2021. This year his plan is to further develop his writing career.

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