It’s Not as Spooky as You Think: A Brief Word on Ghostwriting

A Brief Word on Ghostwriting.png

A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the book launch for a biography I ghostwrote. The entire project was one of the best experiences of my life — I helped a woman tell the story of her faith-affirming journey as she struggled to care for a husband who’d been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

You can find out more about that project by visiting: http://www.pattiepperson.com/

It was a great opportunity, the kind of project that reminds me why I love my job.

ghostwriting photo.jpgBut I was surprised to discover that many people had no idea what a ghostwriter was. Even other writers were asking me about what I did as a ghostwriter and how I felt about it. So I’ve decided to give a brief sketch of this corner of the writing profession.

In a nutshell, ghostwriting is just like it sounds. It’s when you do the writing, but someone else puts their name on it. You’re there in spirit only. You’re paid to write what you’re told to write and the employer owns the copyright, has complete creative control, and, if they so desire, can pretend you don’t even exist. *makes vaguely spooky woo sounds*

That may sound terrible but it’s really not. If I poured all my blood, sweat and tears into a book that I created and someone came along and took credit for it, that would suck. But much like you pay a photographer to make you look good in pictures; a ghostwriter can help you look good on paper.

To date, I’ve worked on three books as a ghostwriter. One was for a financial planner who wanted to put his professional knowledge into an easy-to-digest self-help book. Another was for a health advisor who wanted to give his political ideas a proper grounding in book form and the third was the autobiography mentioned above. Each project was unique; and none of the people who hired me were trying to “trick” anyone — as one person asked me. Ghostwriting is a valid editorial option for people who have a great idea for a book — and the knowledge, resources or experience to validate the project — but don’t want to take the time to learn the writing craft to get the work done.

If you’re a writer looking to earn income through different avenues, ghostwriting is an interesting option. You get to live in someone else’s shoes for a bit. You get to open yourself up to a whole new world. And you get paid while doing it! I got a quick education in finances — something people pay good money for. I consider myself much more well-informed about national health care policy and I’ve heard (and then written) some insane horror stories on how the bureaucratic side of things is affecting our country. And walking in the shoes of a woman who had the worst thing she could imagine happen to her has strengthened my faith in ways I never saw coming when I signed on to do the project.

For writers considering a career as a ghostwriter, I’d say the number one quality you need (other than the basic skills any writer must acquire and strengthen) is empathy. If you can fully immerse yourself in another person’s story; if you can lose yourself in someone else’s life and take on their voice like it’s your own; and if you can make yourself curious about pretty  much anything, ghostwriting might be an option worth exploring.

_____________________

Crystal face 2

Crystal Liechty is the mastermind behind the Educating Mom webtoon, which details the always funny and often inappropriate hijinx involved in homeschooling three mischievous children. If you’ve been to college lately, you might have seen one of her essays in the Elements of Arguments textbook (Macmillan Press). When not homeschooling or torturing college students with argumentative essays, Crystal can be found watching Korean dramas, teaching herself Kpop dances or in general working as an unofficial ambassador for South Korean culture. Find out more about her online comic by visiting pleasedontcallchildservices.com. You can also find it on Facebook.

Setting Goals for Solitary Souls

We are so excited to welcome our newest contributor, Crystal Liechty!

This week, I made a vision board. It’s my first time undertaking such an endeavor and I felt a little silly the whole time. But I have several friends who highly recommend this process for goal setting so I decided to go for it.

Setting Goals for Solitary Souls.png

For those who don’t know, a vision board is when you find pictures or keywords for goals you have (a pile of money for more income; or a place you want to travel to; a new bookshelf, etc) and you arrange them on a poster, then hang it somewhere you will see it every day. The hippies say this shows the universe your intention and calls forth these things to manifest in your life. I just think it’s a good way to help you focus on what you want so you don’t get distracted by squirrels or Netflix marathons.

As I considered my goals and gathered pictures to represent them, it got me thinking. Goal setting is kind of a lonely process. I’m a very social person, so I feel the sting sharply. Here is my goal, I tell everyone, participate in it with me! But you can’t because my goals aren’t your goals. You can cheer me on and in fact, having cheerleaders in your life is very important. But you can’t set the goal for me. You can’t want the goal for me and you definitely can’t achieve the goal for me.

See what I mean? Lonely.

I recently read a study that said people who declare their goals to their community, via Facebook or whatever, actually fail at accomplishing those goals more often than people who don’t announce them. I was surprised by this because in my mind, announcing goals to those around you would make you more accountable, wouldn’t it? But that’s not the reality. Once you shout out your goal and get all the “huzzahs!” and “you can do it!”, what’s the point after that?

Maybe goals are supposed to be lonely, solitary things.

Vision board pic 2

Guess what is also a very lonely undertaking? Writing. And to write, you have to set goals. Lots of goals. And then some more goals if you accomplished the first goals. (Someone keep track of how many times I use the word “goal” in this blog.)

If you’re an introvert, this prospect is probably less terrifying to you. I’m an social vampire, feeding off conversations, Facebook likes and retweets. Perhaps that’s why I constantly find myself in a goal whirlpool, struggling to know what I want to do next. Struggling even more to get myself to do it.

But fear not, my fellow social butterflies! I have found a few tricks to escape the desolate wasteland that is writerly goals. One is writing communities. I love my various online writing groups, where people ask writing questions or seek life advice and just in general, human together. Accountability partners are another way to lessen the loneliness. I have a great one who checks in with me daily and makes me feel like someone out there sincerely cares if I write 1,000 words today.

Writing conferences are an extrovert writer’s holy land. I’m never more inspired or fired up than after a good writers conference. They can fuel me for months and I probably get more done immediately after a writers conference than any other time of the year.

Vision board pic 1.jpg

Only time will tell if my vision board helps me. Only practice will help me learn to set and follow through on my goals despite the loneliness. Only good friends will keep me sane through it all.

How do you  handle the loneliness of goals?