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Grant writing derangement syndrome (GWDS)

Grant Writing Derangement Syndrome (GWDS) occurs when the grant writer works on too many nonsensical, poorly organized, or simply maddening RFPs. The symptoms include an inability to think straight; the inability to continue forming semi-coherent sentences in the face of self-contradictory or incoherent RFPs; and cackling maniacally in the absence of appropriate humor stimulus (the cackling often disturbs anyone sharing the grant writer’s space).

Problems leading to GWDS often begin with repetitive, inane RFP questions that seem designed to frustrate the transmission of information rather than enable it. GWDS becomes more severe as the grant writer persists, knowing that the deadline looms like the ever present clock in High Noon.

I don’t know what the cure for GWDS might be, but I know the ailment well. To some extent, GWDS can be alleviated by going for a walk, taking deep breaths, staring off into the distance, and, best of all, putting aside the proposal for a while. The challenge, however, is that RFP deadlines are rigid and often prevent the grant writer from executing that last step. This means that the symptoms usually persist for at least as long as the assignment does, and sometimes longer. Then, I look at my work schedule and see yet another RFP train bearing down on me. It’s time to power down the iMac and stroll to my favorite hipster coffee shop, La Colombe.

But that often isn’t enough, because the RFPs never stop.

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