Writer in Residence

Things you didn’t know you could get funding for

By Manahil Bandukwala

There really is a huge world of funding out there beyond grants for individual writing projects. These professional development grants offer anywhere between $1000 to $12,000 (or even more) for numerous expenses related to being a writer. In 2022, I received a “Career Catalyst: Project Grants for New Generation Artists” from the Ontario Arts Council for website development, artist headshots, and equipment upgrades — things I wouldn’t otherwise have developed because of a lack of day-job funds to put towards these.

In today’s blog post, I’m going to share the career areas that are worth considering developing if you acquire these funds, as well as provide some key words you can use to search for these types of grants. 


The first obvious asset for your professional bank is an author headshot. Headshots are used for books and chapbooks, press, promotional material, and more. Given that most of us have cameras at our disposal on our phones, you probably have an author photo at hand, but a professional headshot can feel fancy and, as the term suggests, professional!

Website Fees

If you have or are thinking about creating an author website, you can acquire funding for a couple of years’ worth of hosting fees. If you want to take this a step further, you can hire a web developer to build features like sales integrations, accessibility, and more. I have a blog post on building an author website coming up next with more details about this topic!


Most of the time I feel like I’m stumbling through an ether unsure of how to do anything in the cloud surrounding writing. How to submit a manuscript, how to get an agent, and so on and so on. You can ask someone informally for information, but it’s not the same as working with someone with the specific knowledge you seek long-term on specific goals. Bigger grants include opportunities to pay a mentor for any of this guidance.


Being a writer in 2023 involves a lot of time on a laptop, and a lot of time on Zoom for meetings, online readings, workshops, and more. It definitely helps to have good audio and video quality, a well-lit room, stable internet, and more. While these can be expensive things to purchase on your own, funds for dedicated equipment upgrades can, again, change what you’re able to offer as a writer


Are you a visual poet? Do you use unconventional formatting for your work? In MONUMENT, I have a poem in a spiral shape that I created on Photoshop. I used Photoshop for the illustrations that appear in MONUMENT as well. Having access to this kind of software can change the way you approach writing if you’re interested in pushing form.


Are there any skills you would like to develop? Any independent workshops or courses you want to take? These kinds of grants often offer funding for registration fees, travel, and other expenses surrounding expenses.


My places to check are the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and any municipal funding bodies in the place you live. Private and non-profit organizations geared towards specific groups also sometimes have small grants to offer. Keywords to look for include “professional development,” “career catalyst,” and “career development” for beginner funds, and “sustainability” for long-term projects. 

This is a non-comprehensive list of what you can get funding for that isn’t always in the mainstream grant applications. These sorts of grants are great because you don’t need to have a specific project on the go to apply. They slot into the time between writing when you’re wading through somewhat unknown waters. A lot of the work we do for our career is on our own time and with our own money, which can be very limited, so I hope this list is a useful starting point for you!

I'll see you next week with a deeper dive on creating an author website. 

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Manahil Bandukwala is a multidisciplinary artist and writer. She is the author of Women Wide Awake (Mawenzi House, 2023) and Monument (Brick Books, 2022; shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award), and numerous chapbooks. In 2023, she was selected as a Writer's Trust Rising Star. See her work at manahilbandukwala.com.