People sometimes ask me how I became a ghostwriter. I didn’t do it on purpose. I did it because I like helping people. It’s what’s most compelling for me. Young writers are taught that developing an authentic voice is of paramount importance. Your voice should be inimitable. And wise. And you better be full of courage because you’ll be divulging your deepest feelings. Virginia Woolf said, “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
And then there’s that quote by Allen Ginsberg where he says “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.” Ok, so don’t over-think the whole voice thing. Wait, but what if I’m already obsessed with the idea that I may never find my voice? Does that mean it’s already too late? Yes, I love writing, but let’s cancel the whole thing because I’m pretty sure I’ve shot myself in the foot with all this worrying. Crap…
Anyway, one day a friend asked me for help with some writing. She had great ideas but not much writing ability, and wondered if I could organize her thoughts and turn her ideas into articles that people could read and enjoy. I’d have to learn about the subject matter she specialized in, and then write the articles in her voice, not my own. Could I do that?
It never occurred to me to say no, or wonder whether or not I’d be good at this. It sounded completely reasonable. I’d learn all about a new subject matter and get to help out a friend by creating content for her that she couldn’t create herself. Writing in her voice seemed like it would be easy. I’d pay attention to the way she spoke and the things she liked and how she felt about the world, and in doing so, I’d get a sense of her voice. Somehow I just knew I’d be good at this, and I was.
Being a writer is typically a pretty solitary gig, but with ghostwriting, I get to collaborate with the person I’m writing for, and the better I’m able to connect, the better the finished piece turns out. It’s a bit like acting. I take on another person’s persona, and create a narrative in their voice, representing them in the best way possible. It’s a wonderful service to provide to remarkable people who either have no time to write themselves or lack the confidence / skill to churn out quality writing.
I get to be an intuitive people person, a curious researcher and a savvy wordsmith. It’s dynamic work and the immediacy of turning my client’s ideas into beautiful writing is extremely gratifying for us both.
So how does it work, exactly? Tune in next week and I’ll explain the ways in which I typically ghostwrite for clients…