Last year, when I composed my first SSHRC application, I felt entirely at sea. Sum up my entire past and academic future in just two pages? Then when I started writing, I thought I would never fill those two pages. How much can one say about research one has not yet done? I ended up using every single line of those two pages.
This year, I had the same experience. I am not quite done my draft yet, but it is coming along nicely, and I am almost at the two-page limit. And this, after weeks of being stalled at just over one page and despairing of ever filling more in.
It's hard to explain two very different fields to an army of non-specialists in either.
What needs to be included in a SSHRC draft:
Who I am.
What my topic is.
Why it is important and unique.
What has been done in the past that I can build on. (Also, am I serious enough about this to get my nose in it already.)
How I am going to go about studying it.
Why I am the best - nay, only - person to study this topic.
What I will do during the tenure of the award. (Is their money going to be well-used.)
And I have to sell myself. A hard sell, the I am great and spectacular, and my work is vitally important to all people kind of sell.
I tell you, if you ever find yourself in the position of writing your first grant application, see if your school offers a course through the writing centre or something. It is time very well spent. This is a very different sort of writing, and there are a lot of tips and tricks, a lot of Dos and Don'ts, that you need to know.
I hope I remember enough of last year's course to make this application a contender. It would ease the financial pressure so much.