Great question. I hope to unveil what’s in it for you…what the benefits are to choosing ghostwriting as your freelance gig. Do I want more competition? No, but there’s a spot for everyone in the venue, maybe the space right over there, in that corner, is just right for you.
Before I jump into today’s segment, let me ask you a few questions. Do you like to travel? Enjoy a wide-range of projects? Consider yourself a people-person? Want to pack a punch with your résumé?
Come with me, down a little side street…Diversion Drive…
Today, on this humid August afternoon, my mind wanders to a Dairy Queen mini-blizzard. Their new Chocolate Candy Shop one, to be exact. On Monday, a friend and I stopped in at a local sandwich shop for lunch. In the same mall was Dairy Queen. We both had a salad, so we figured, why not, let’s go for it!
Oh my, sweet deliciousness! I can almost taste it again! Velvety vanilla soft serve mingled with rich hazelnut crème, decadent fudge, and caramel truffles, all drenched in dark chocolate. Mmmmm!
Why am I teasing you? “Because I can,” said the ghostwriter. 😉 It is my job to describe things in a way that will have you on the edge of your seat, longing, hungering for more. “Hey Roxie, no different from any other writer.” True. What’s different is, I can’t toss our ideas out there to test them in a market before I sell them to our clients. If you write in any other venue, you can take the work to be critiqued, or send it to a few friends, or even publish it on your social media platform. But ghostwriters can’t.
I need to rely solely on my own judgment, and those I work with. The Nondisclosure Agreements bind my lips and seal my wax envelopes. No beta readers, no sample survey, no audience comments. So how do I refine my skills to make up for the lack of feedback? Social Networking.
“But…you just said…wait…huh?” I can’t throw my work out there for everyone to see, but I can take cues from these outlets. Have no fear, if you are not a people-person, you can become one. I did.
First a bit on nondisclosure agreements, what they mean and what the spirit of the contract is: NDA is a way to protect intellectual property (IP) between two parties, ensuring information passed from one to the other remains confidential. A great example of one can be found here.
On to the benefits of Social Networks. I’m lumping them together to begin from a common point; Blogs, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter, are the hottest right now. These allow a writer, artist, etc. to share thoughts, experiences and expression by a means of broadcasting. For the most part, these places operate for free, collecting data from users.
A way to tap into the value of these systems as a ghostwriter is to make your presence known out there. Compose posts, comment on others, and move out of your comfort zone. I wrote a piece about the topic: Carving Out Your Niche over at fellow blogger Law Reign’s casa. Once you do, the field is plentiful for harvest. You’ll be gleaning dialogue, trends, information, and technology, filtering it all through a specific sieve as your needs arise.
Drilling down further, you can develop a rapport with ‘friends’. Be wary of the pros and cons of interacting, the task may suck you in and steal your time.
For instance, connecting with other writers is a good idea, but may be a distraction to completing your goals. Checking sites to do research or gather concepts for projects is helpful, however watch that you don’t hop on board the treadmill with no escape cord: discern when to stop searching. Networks engage real-world dialogue, opinions, and perspectives enabling you to sound fresh and current with your work. Often these are considered as primary source documents, though usually not verifiable as journalistic reporting.
Applying it all to ghostwriting means spotting trends, engaging in the world and keeping your ear to the ground for hot spots. All of this will give you an edge in your writing. And speaking of the actual writing, how can someone overcome difficult assignments? Do you think you can only write what you know? How do you combat writer’s block?
From my experience, taking frequent breaks is my secret staying on track. I need to stand up and move around every forty-five minutes or so, and will find a task to do away from my computer. Maybe I check my email on my phone, while I walk to the kitchen to get a snack. Or I might throw on a load of laundry and toss something in the oven for dinner. I multi-task. Cramming as much into my minutes as I possibly can.
Since I’m always working on several jobs at a time, I’ve found if I’m pausing over the keyboard for more than a few minutes, I need to head off a stale-mate before it happens. Block the writer’s block. I may type whatever my thoughts are, similar to when I’m in a lecture and bored.
Yes, my friends are acquainted with my secret: I’ll take copious notes in a lecture. I may be very interested in the topic and want to grab all that gusto, or I may be yawning internally and seeking subjects to record for later writing ventures. If you see me in a public space, scribbling furiously, you’ll never be able to tell if I’m writing about you: your hair, clothes, mannerisms, etc. *eyebrow raise* Now you know.
Back to the keyboard. When I’m feeling a pause, I’ll just write, describing any of the senses: What does this character see? hear? touch? Often these exercises get me back on track and I can incorporate them into the work or edit them out. Either way I’m better off for pushing forward.
Difficult assignments are another animal altogether. I don’t always write from my knowledge bank. Preparing plus identifying my strengths helps immensely. For instance, say I’m working on a newsletter extolling the breakthroughs in molecular genetics (just saying). The topic isn’t on my radar, but I grasp I must spend some time researching the current belief in transcription and the need for regulation (seriously, actual stuff!).
It’s essential to have those references at my fingertips. Being organized helps. And say in the same newsletter I’m supposed to include the latest survey of nutrition vs. biochemical reactions in the body and how they interact as nontraditional treatments. Egads! who am I gonna call? I don’t want to lose the assignment, so I delve into my phone book and come up with someone in my Social Network to email and get the digs on modern meds.
I realize this sounds like I’m all over the place, but I’m trying to imprint in your mind all the benefits of networking. Because what’s important today may very well be what sells tomorrow, but how will you know if you don’t have your finger on the pulse of the big wide world?
Other tough assignments may include working with someone I may not be crazy about, to cutting and pasting similar info repetitiously, creating a finished product which seems mindless to me but ‘genius’ to some clients. Church Bulletins and Civic Newsletters fit in this category. Ever done one of those? Much of the same info is used each week or month, minor changes here and there. Building a bio and packing the résumé has shaped my writing muscles into well-toned, recognizable assets.
How do I keep my interest in these tasks when they’re building my byline and paying the bills? Candy…hmmm mmmm, you betcha. The sweet reward of a job well-done. My top five favorites to reach for are: Smarties (but of course!), Jelly Belly jelly beans, Werther’s candies, M&M’s, and drum roll….#1 – Twizzlers. Each come in individual, reward-friendly packaging so I can’t overindulge, and aren’t too messy to eat at my desk. Come on, you’re already eating snacks while you write, what’s your guilty pleasure?
Or I reward myself with travel. As I’ve flexed my writing biceps, I’ve stretched my calf muscles, too. Taking opportunities to get out and see the world, write-off my expenses and have fun while working. I mean seriously, what could be better?
Thanks for taking this ride with me; my next series will begin in September and I’ll tackle the topic of editing. Plus I’ll have a give-away: someone will win a free editing package.
ghostwriting articles in the series:
images from Office.com