Ghostwriting Basics

I’ve been asked numerous times for some tips on ghostwriting. So here’s my first blog dedicated to this complex, yet exciting, type of work, one that I particularly enjoy:

It’s one thing to agree to help someone write, it’s quite another to get it “right”! Letting someone’s voice shine through their project is the first step forward when it comes to ghostwriting.

Truth is, it’s not easy. I’ve struggled with it myself throughout the years. After all, we’re human. We want to help people but, in so doing, we often feel we “know” what those people need – whether a vacation, a new boyfriend or the right phrase!

But here’s the thing: the only way – and I mean the ONLY way – you can do your job as a ghostwriter correctly is if you throw your needs, your ideas, your perceptions, your “voice” away and adopt someone else’s in their place. No ifs, ands or butts.

How? Here are some pointers to ensure you’re doing your job right:

1. When you sit and interview your client, getting their stories, make sure to record their words once in a while. Then, listen to them carefully. Very carefully. You don’t need to do this each and every time you meet (sometimes typing as they talk is more efficient) but do it enough to ensure you clearly hear their intonations, their phraseology, their tone etc. Those listening skills will come in handy, I promise.

2. On a regular basis, ask yourself if a page, an idea, a chapter you’ve written represents your client and bears none of your influence. Don’t drive yourself batty; just be mindful to ensure you’re on the right track.

3. Check-in. I always like to do this even if I’m not ghostwriting but it’s especially important when doing this type of work. Send your client drafts (even if they haven’t asked), confirming you’re getting their voice right.

4. Let go. Learning to let go of your ideas, of the “right” way to say something, is a fascinating exercise that can help you professionally and personally. It will also keep your clients satisfied – and coming back. Sure, it’s fine (and even expected) for you to makes suggestions, offer feedback. You are the writer, after all and your expertise is why you’re hired for the job. But then, once you’ve said your piece, Let.It.Go.

More tips to come! Hope they’re useful.

Onward,
Elisa