Why do you (really) write? Finding security and fulfillment as a ghost writer
Do you dread that look of condescending pity people get when you tell them, somewhat shyly, you’re a writer?
It’s even worse when the sound of the question mark squeaks in at the end of your statement. Do you hate it when your job is treated like just a ghost of an idea, a hobby, or maybe even a cover for unemployed rather than a real career? Where’s the security, fulfillment and impact you expected when you set out to change the world?
The experience of talking about your work can be particularly painful when you’re a ghost writer. Even if you’ve written many books, you may not have the right to tell anyone about them.
As a ghostwriter, you work under a non-disclosure agreement, which means you agree to never tell anyone about certain books you wrote unless and until the person who’s name is on the cover provides you with written permission to do so.
In some ways, this completely goes against the grain of who we are as writers, right? We want to be known for our ideas and we want our ideas to matter in some way [click to tweet]. This ghost writing gig is like the complete opposite of being famous.
So why do it?
First is the security. Part of the reason I’m a ghostwriter is that I like to eat and I prefer to have a roof and electricity – maybe that’s something that real ghosts don’t need to worry about. You may not get any of the recognition for ghostwriting a book, but the trade-off is that you know you are earning an income from your writing.
I’ve seen it. It can be so disappointing to put all that effort into producing your book and bringing it to market, maybe in a few months, maybe in a year, maybe it’s been the work of a lifetime. And then you don’t not have enough cash left at the end of the day to buy the celebratory cake.
With ghostwriting, you are paid as the project progresses. By the time the book is published, you’ve received the bulk of your expected income from the project. Depending on the contract, you may have received your entire payment or you may still be expecting some percentage of future royalties.
The bigger why – unequaled fulfillment
In my mind, creativity is one of the greatest gifts we writers have to offer. We aren’t just creating our own little worlds, we are creating possible worlds, future worlds, better worlds [click to tweet]. Through our writing, we can actually help to shape the thinking of our culture.
When posting this quote, Bobbi Klein on Lifehack encouraged us to “Inspire others to do what they love. Use your creativity to create new works … It’s time to let your mind create projects and ideas that will have a domino effect throughout the world.”
Digging down into the core of why I love to write, I realized it was because I love the magic of words to create entirely new realities for other people. When you realize you write to give people something more, it no longer matters whose name is on the cover [click to tweet]. Fulfillment comes with each chapter
Casper, I know you already understand how this can all lead to changing the world. Even though I still think I have some pretty good ideas and use my downtime to work on them, there are plenty of people with even bigger ideas in the world but who don’t have the time or the talent to weave magic with their words. With my help, they can focus on using their strengths while getting their ideas out to a wider world.
It’s a beautiful thing to be part of so many amazing teams, knocking down dominos wherever we go.
But I’m curious, what do you think about ghost writing? Is it something you’ve ever thought about before? What do you do to find security and fulfillment with your writing and how do you plan to change the world?
Until next time, Write on!