Once upon a time, you scraped your knee while playing tag in your backyard.
Then, you squeaked out a B+ on your algebra exam.
Then, you fell in love with someone who lived in your college dorm.
Then you got your first job. You had your first car accident. Your first dish of Indian food. Your first realization that your life isn’t going to be what you originally thought.
Whether you have experienced moments like these, or different moments entirely, you have a specific way you think, feel, and remember these experiences. You have a voice, and whether you’re telling a story as in a memoir, reporting on concepts on any given subject, or instructing readers on how to shift their lives for the better, collaborating with someone on realizing that voice on the page can seem like a daunting and even unnerving task. How could someone else ever relate to how you felt when you overcame a life-altering challenge, or understand how important it is for you that your future readers grasp the concepts and practices that have compelled you to write a book in the first place?
The act of ghostwriting—of writing in someone else’s voice on their behalf—can be a particularly nuanced and sensitive process for two people to go through together. For the writer, it requires a capacity not just for language but for an affectation of that language in a way that resonates with the client’s intentions. Making a decision to work with that writer is significant in and of itself, for it is letting go of a certain amount of control over a form of creative output that is obviously quite personal and individual. When that decision to work with someone in this way is made, it is of tremendous importance that the collaboration be one of productivity and inspiration rather than miscommunication and friction.
No ghostwriter will ever be able to guarantee that your collaboration with them will be free of miscommunications, tension, or other unproductive experiences. It will therefore be important for you to take the necessary steps in consideration of a ghostwriter before deciding to work with them. Some steps that may benefit you may include the following:
- Ask the ghostwriter to read material they have ghostwritten on behalf of others. Here you will be able to determine whether or not they both have a grasp of their writing craft and also succeed in convincing you of the authenticity of their client’s voice.
- Ask the ghostwriter questions about how they might specifically address certain creative obstacles regarding your project (e.g. “How might you structure this section of the story to ensure that it doesn’t bog the rest of it down?”).
- If you are planning to write a memoir, ask the ghostwriter if they are available to conduct a trial-run of working with you. This may include a brief session of research and their production of a sample of content that reflects that research.
You may have experienced a life-altering event, had a revelatory breakthrough about a concept that will affect everyone, or have a method to share with those interested in improving their lives, but it will be through the specificity of how you regard these intentions that will ultimately define your presence on the page. If you would like to discuss the writing of such a project with me, do get in touch.