Order and Chaos – Ghostwriter and Subject

Language takes chaos and brings it into form. It therefore articulates that which is vague and in the mind, and aligns the chaotic thought form into something that can be understood. When words are not pinned to things and they are unknown, all is chaotic and can quickly become ‘scary’ as it resides in the unknown to take on monstrous forms. But when words are attributed to objects, states of being and situations, alignment is brought forth and – as if the chaos that was ruling the psyche has now been alchemised—order is formed. We have Aha! and the Now I understand! moments of realisation. When something is not named, and exists in the unknown realm, the mind leads itself into disarray, because the imagination projects what become monsters onto what it sees. It grabs content from its visual archive and pins it onto a blank canvas.

People can spend years, decades, indeed their entire lives in these chaotic, unstable states of being, and a person lives in angst. If luck permits, such a person can catch a glimpse of order, and the opportunity to exit the chaos reveals itself. That would be the time to go for it, to start writing! Suddenly the inspiration to order what can now be observed as chaotic becomes necessary – but not everyone has the time, know how or linguistic intelligence to write an entire book. Furthermore, the concept of doing it well and doing it right and doing it just is too pressurising. The relationship between ghostwriter and subject is alchemical. It brings order out of chaos.

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Writing is Medicine #2 (Acupuncture for the Mind).

Many times we are drawn to the page. It happens in a persistent manner throughout our lives, sometimes at the most inconvenient times. It’s as if we are being pulled by an invisible attractor field. Many times we allow something to interfere with us connecting to that page. We rationalise the calling – the duty of writing and use reason to excuse ourselves from the obligation. Writing, after all, is not a priority—is it? We develop sophisticated well reasoned positions about why we can’t do it now and why we should not, and the voices begin…

It’s irresponsible, now that you have a child, a second child, a third, you just don’t have time—now that you have started a new job, have begun thinking about moving house. You’ll do it once you clear your overdraft, move out of your parents home and are free to explore your creativity. Only then will you do it. You’ll do it when you move into your own one-bed flat, once you have got that desk you have always pictured having and when the kids bugger off to uni. You’ll start writing your book then, because it’s not of ‘prime concern’ right now. Only then when everything is in position, will you accept the call – to connect to the page. Right?

When has writing ever been a concern? Why not just drift to the page like you were going to? Why are we making such a big deal out of it? I know what happened… something interfered with you connecting—it involved itself and barged its way into your flow, like venom it introduced itself, and like poison it lessened you. That may feel like a hard description but this is how incrementally cunning the mind is, it acts like a poison and is the enemy of the writer. The secret is to learn what it is. Only then, can we master it.

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Writing is Medicine ‪#‬1

‘When we put the pen to paper, we articulate things in our life that we may have felt vague about. Before you write about something, somebody says, ‘How do you feel?’ and you say, ‘Oh, I feel okay.’ Then you write about it, and you discover you don’t feel okay.’—Julia Cameron.

In November, I will be celebrating my fourth year working as a ‘professional’ ghostwriter. In this time I have observed and learnt many things of our human condition. The most significant being, that it is rarely in balance.

With my work, what I have noticed is that a person will have something they need to wash themselves of, and atone for. Once they have done this, they appear more ‘free’. They have entered a type of—cleanse and after which, they feel much better. Writing I have witnessed—is a medicine. With my background as a personal trainer, healing and rehabilitation, I have taken an interest in medicine and I will attempt to combine that interest with my ability to write. Over these next few months I will publish a series of articles explaining the ways in which writing is healing, good for soul and in fact takes on all of the attributes a medicine does.

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Why is a ghostwriter fundamental to your business?

In Dealing with Swindlers and Devils: Literature and Business Ethics, Christopher Michaelson writes that ‘One instrumental function of literature is to imitate life, thereby expanding our vision beyond our parochial interests; to see literature merely as a didactic instrument to serve business interests misses the point that literature should expand understanding, our sense of what in addition to business is interesting and valuable.’

I wanted to write a series of articles for business owners who are interested in writing books. I have always been drawn to the entrepreneurs of the world and in a way, I consider myself one and due to the stresses and the challenges of running a business or company, we often find ourselves too close to the action – too connected to the drama, when all we need to do, sometimes, is sit back – and write about it. I have begun to talk to business owners about why a ghostwriter is so fundamental to their business. To begin, the question here is wrong. Why is a book important to a business? This is the question. But to avoid disappointment, please turn back now if you are expecting a blog about ‘business’ perse. This article reminds us what words can do, what books can do. Understanding this helps encourage us to write our great works. So… why a book?

Preceding this question, what is a book? An object with images in it (letters) that link to form words. What are words? What is communication? Understanding what is happening when we are writing a book will help shine a light on these fundamentals, because what happens to a person when they write one can be nothing short of magic. Sometimes that’s what businesses need… a touch of magic. Sometimes what business owners are in need of is a new best friend. As Groucho Marx said, ‘Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.’

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Ghostwriter or ghost writer?

Ghostwriter or ghost writer? Who cares, right? Tut tut.
To be honest, I thought I knew – one word, ghostwriter because that is what was established. Andrew Crofts says ghostwriter, Wikipedia says ghostwriter and in the kids’ TV series, the character of Ghostwriter ‘can communicate with the kids only by manipulating whatever text and letters he can find and then using them to form words and sentences,’ quite a thing to do really – manipulate words, and this seems to be what happens with language, and in many different complicated ways. But is this manipulation of the word from one to another wrong or natural? In the 2010 film by Roman Polanski “The Ghost Writer”, a ‘British ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) is hired to complete the autobiography of former Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan).’
I wanted to know what I was, what my job is called – and I still do. Consulting my SEO engineer ‘Steve’, more people are in fact looking to find a ‘ghost writer’ than a ‘ghostwriter’, so is my changing ghostwriter to ghost writer to appear more ‘there’ on the Google rankings the thing to do or is this me ‘re-writing’ the word to accommodate a mis spell? To understand this, we need to understand what language is. Or maybe Polanski just knew how to spell ghostwriter and ghostwriters the world over have been wrong all along? How does change happen? What is the English language?

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Can I become a ghost writer? Part III

You are a ghostwriter of memoirs, works of non-fiction and novels. This is surely the dream of any freelance writer. So why do the writers I speak with keep quitting before they land their second job? The fact remains that working as a ghostwriter is not something all are suited for, have the patience for, or know how to do. It’s basically very very different.

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The Age of the Ghost Writer

It was 2010. I was working on a screenplay at a Starbucks on Ventura Blvd, Encino, Los Angeles. By the end of the first week it was clear: I was not the only freelancer in LA! After counting, I was actually just one of fifteen in this Starbucks who weren’t just popping in to pick up latte’s and frappuccinos. Mid California summer – we were spending the entire day inside, safe in the tranquility of the air conditioning with our butter croissants, laptops and MacBook’s – some of us on just one espresso a day, others one an hour. ‘Do you come here every day?’ I asked one of the writers thumping away at his own movie script. ‘Brother, this has been my office for three months’. I looked around, we were all focused in on our writing, we were ‘the freelancers’ of Ventura Blvd.
Four year later, I find myself working at a different venue, a restaurant encircled by Macbook’s, tablets, iPhones and laptops. But I was not at a Starbucks in the LA valley, surrounded by designer logo’s, botoxed skin and beaming white teeth. No no, I was at a farmhouse converted into a restaurant in the Himalayas… North India, surrounded by yogi’s, backpackers, babas and  buddhist monks. The hoards of passing Harley’s had been replaced with mules, goats, cows, monkeys and shepherds, burritos replaced with bhajees, the LA Times with the Hindu Times. My location had changed but the situation had not. It didn’t matter where I travelled, I was no longer the only freelancer in the village. Everyone was at it!
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10 Ghostwriting Tips

1. Learn about ghostwriting. Becoming a ghost writer is still a relatively new idea. Talking about ghostwriting and introducing yourself as a ghost writer has an appeal that is more attractive than being just a writer. Even the idea of a ghost writer is unusual to people. You will find that people ask further questions about the work because it sounds and is secretive. You will need to be up to speed on what a ghost writer does. So to become one, you must first learn your industry. I recommend Andrew Crofts book Ghostwriting – this was the first book I read on the subject and it helped me secure my first job.
2. Build a portfolio. Your client will want to see examples of your work. If you haven’t written in a variety of styles and to a high degree – get writing. I have been writing all of my life and professionally since I was eighteen years old, always building and refining my portfolio. This way, I can pass a prospective client examples of work for them to review. The longer you leave this, the worse a position you will be in. Furthermore – are you not a writer? If so, write. I average 500 words a day but sometimes 1000 words or 5000 words a day.
3. Market yourself as a ghost writer. With a strong portfolio prepared or even a self-published book to point people to, and a thorough knowledge about ghostwriting, and the services you will be providing, it is time to start marketing yourself. This can be done for free with a web site, a twitter account and a basic understanding of SEO. Talk to people as a ghost writer and see stories everywhere and in everyone. Offer to write them for people. What is the worst that could happen?

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