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You Are A Writer

Sometimes unknowingly, doubts make us feel comfortable because we count ourselves out before attempting to do something. Just like, you know how much you believe something is possible, it makes you uncomfortable because now that means you will have to do it. If you are an aspiring writer, stop aspiring to be a writer because when you write, you are a writer. Start writing now and push the writing culture forward. Even if that means writing 500 words a day or 5 pages a day, you are still putting something out there. It doesn't hurt to build that mentality and know that things will not go your way but you are going to push nonetheless, be open-minded, get out of your comfort zone, and talk to other writers and learn from each other rather than being on defense mode that your writing will never be good enough.
Yes, it is going to be difficult. Especially hailing from a small town and raised in an Asian household, it's tough because a lot of times when you say what you want to do…

Being A Ghostwriter

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

As I debate on writing this topic with a cup of fragrant Jasmine tea in my hand, I think about the articles, blog posts, social media contents and storyboards that I've had to come up with and written for people, I ask myself what it is like to balance between two jobs as a content writer and a ghostwriter.

While in the earlier stage where I fantasized about creating an escape in writing and acted upon it, I was thrilled to see my works published in notable websites, travel magazines and newspapers. I was churning out 8 - 10 articles weekly, and in some cases, articles that had to be written urgently to be submitted in 3 hours.

Each article, for each client, had to be distinctive. The process of generating ideas, outlining and finishing draft could take more than 2 hours if the topic was new. Deep research and long editing and more coffee breaks in between. There were topics I had to write out of my normal discipline, technique and style. All of that gave me a sense of experiential progress and solid income, but one problem lies.

Someone else got the credit.

It's not something I should be beating myself up about. That was the whole point. My expertise and credit traded in for cash. For a long while now, I had not written any stories for myself and personal agendas were cast aside. Something was eating me. Until recently, I realized I missed the recognition and authority of having my own name on the writing.

I found the experience of ghostwriting to be both enriching and frustrating.

Every single detail counted for me. The voice and tone it takes to write. The plot, the story progression. The character's motivations. The don't tell it, just show it. To sum things up, there are 3 cases I had to deal with in ghostwriting:

1. Their words and ideas - I am paid to transform their vision into an article or book. I communicate with them by any means necessary, jot down notes and develop the content. In some events, I am handed a rough draft and I have to clean and polish it.

2. Their ideas, My words -  I am paid to write from an outline or transcript provided. I do my extensive research, they approve the final draft. It's very likely where I may throw in suggestion for substantial changes where it fits, or when I personally do not see an idea being convincing.

3. My ideas and words - I am paid to write from scratch. Their only involvement is to approve what I've served.

Without a doubt, I have a fierce level of pride in being a content writer and ghostwriter. Working with a stranger is a business transaction, having a friend as a client means I'm playing in a different field. My pride is rooted in a desire where I genuinely want what's best for them and if that means changing their stories and motivations, I would go to such lengths like a paid assassin would.

It can be tough for readers to wrap that around their head. It's easy to lose respect for people who hire a ghostwriter and disheartening when the ghostwriter is given a "co-author" or similar status of sort, where credit given seems like a forced art. This ultimately cause readers to dismiss the hiring person as a person lacking character thereof. So, where exactly do clients and ghostwriters draw the line?

That's something I shall ponder for the next post.

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