What is Ghostwriting?
Ghostwriting has existed for as long as writing has. Originally necessary because when writing began, only small portions of the population were literate; if you wanted something written in your name, you had to turn to a scholar to do the actual writing for you. And so the concept of anonymously writing in someone else’s name for pay or consideration was born.
While in the latter half of the twentieth century, ghostwriting was prolific, it still operated very much behind the curtain as leaders of industry would publish articles far more frequently than any one person could, it was never acknowledged in any way that there was another person actually penning these articles.
As the twentieth century came to a close that attitude shifted. It became openly acknowledged that athletes and politicians were not actually writing their celebrity memoirs themselves. And the idea of becoming a ghostwriter was not viewed as such an anomalous profession.
Not only has ghostwriting gained newfound respect now that we’re in the 21st century, it’s also a wonderful way for writers to make a living. But ghostwriting isn’t just about bringing home a paycheck, it can also support a career in fiction writing in more ways than financially. To find out more, there’s no better person to turn to than Andrew Crofts. With over 30 years of experience in journalism, ghostwriting and writing novels, BBC2 Radio has called Andrew Crofts one of the best ghostwriters in the world. In this webinar, hosted by WriterAccess’ Talent Marketing Manager, Greg Hunt, Andrew Crofts takes us on a lively journey through ways in which ghostwriting is one of the most fulfilling career choices for a writer, how his personal experiences with ghostwriting have informed and influenced his successful career as a novelist and how we can all use the non-fiction writing we do as ghostwriters to inspire our own creative work.
The Advantages of Ghostwriting
I loved having access to Andrew Crofts’ veteran experience as a ghostwriter and hearing his take on ghostwriting; he really made me appreciate how wonderful ghostwriting can be for its own sake.
- Learning the necessary humility required to be a writer
If you dream of being a writer for the glory, then chances are, you’re in the wrong line of business. There is a humility to being a ghostwriter, and too, as a ghostwriter you are forced to appreciate the act of writing for its own sake, not for the reputation it can bring you. There is a joy in that.
- Separating the ego from authorship creates a freedom of voice and imagination
By the forced separation of the ego from the creation of work there are a great many advantages. You may find that without having your name on a piece of writing, you discover a freedom in your voice, and in taking on the persona of others in creating your work, you can find entirely new doors of creativity and imagination open to you.
- Generally, you can explore the subject to a much greater depth than a journalist is able
Nowadays, more than ever, it is extremely difficult to be given the latitude or the budget to examine a subject or a topic to the full extent. Time, deadlines and money all work together to limit today’s journalist from being able to explore their topic for weeks or months at a time. But oftentimes in ghostwriting that is not only allowed, but it is an everyday part of the job requirement. And there is little so rewarding as being able to examine a topic in such depth.
Yes, Ghostwriting is Great, but What About Writing Fiction?
Are you looking at ghostwriting as just a means to an end, a way to pay the bills while you work on your novel? Guess what? Ghostwriting can actually do a great deal more for you on the path to becoming a fiction writer than just paying the bills. Here’s how:
- Writing is a craft, hone the craft through ghostwriting [Tweet it]: Would all a writer’s novels be written in the manner of Jack Kerouac’s apocryphal two week writing bender with a roll of paper towels that led to On the Road. Even if there is some truth to that story, we can’t all be Jack Kerouac at the height of the Beat Generation, when the perils of methamphetamines were poorly understood. A part of great writing is talent, but another key ingredient in great writing is skill. Skill is achieved through regular practice, and why not get paid for that practice through ghostwriting.
- Write what you know; use ghostwriting to know more [Tweet it]: A recent scientific study received a lot of press for finding that reading literary fiction improves people’s empathy. As a writer, you probably didn’t need a study to tell you that, but it’s important to remember that literary writing isn’t just a selfish pursuit, it actually makes the world a better place by creating a window through which our readers can view parts of the world and subject matters that are so anathema to their own experiences that they can seem incomprehensible. In choosing to make a career of ghostwriting, you’ll find that the more experienced you become, the more you’ll be able to pick and choose which topics are of the most interest to you. Even in genre fiction like science fiction and fantasy, research is an integral part of creating great, believable narratives. Why not use the knowledge you gain for paid ghostwriting as research. If you’re not yet at the ghostwriting stage of being able to pick and choose your topics, all the better. Try out topics about which you know nothing, and then delve deep. You’ll never know when inspiration will strike.
- Celebrate the variety of voices: Shakespeare never wrote a novel, but 400 years after his death we still celebrate his ingenuity in creating characters in his plays. In her essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” Virginia Woolf attributed this uncanny ability to create characters so vivid that they universally step from the stage into our lives to what she called the “incandescent mind.” In order to free the true art within the mind, “there must be no obstacle in it, no foreign matter unconsumed.” As a writer I am constantly working towards achieving an unimpeded mind. And what better way is there to do so than by writing in the voice of many individuals. As a ghostwriter it is necessary to try on various personas, to write as many different voices. There is hardly a better exercise in existence to strengthen the mind of a writer.
Of course as an aspiring novelist myself, I especially loved hearing about the fascinating ways in which Andrew Crofts’ journalism and non-fiction ghostwriting projects have led to his creative novels. I highly recommend giving the webinar a listen.
5-Star writer Alexandra M is a highly skilled writer, editor and researcher. She brings a deep understanding of the artistic use of language at its most basic level, and her attention to detail, combined with a quick grasp of overall coherency, allows her to efficiently take writing and content of all forms to its best level.
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