A Ghost Writer’s Dilemma

A ghost writer is someone who gives their writing talent to someone else in exchange for money.

It sounds crude, but that’s the truth. I get paid to put together words into a coherent whole, and the one who paid me gets to put their name on the final product as their own writing.

Anything can be ghost written. We often think of books, especially, biographies, as being ghost written. But nowadays blog posts, articles, speeches, web pages, emails, and even Twitter tweets can be ghost written.

Looking back, I’ve been ghost writing ever since I began working right after university. I wrote copy for posters, radio spots, brochures, press releases, speeches, Power Point presentations, forewords, donor reports and funding proposals — and none of those ever bore my name as the author. Instead, the name of the organization I worked for, or any of the agencies we worked with, or any of the top executives’ names, appeared as the author.

Nowadays as a copywriter, I ghost write sales pages, marketing emails, “About Me” and other web pages, squeeze pages, and blog posts.

So why did I suddenly find myself feeling down the other day? I must have been experiencing the ghost writer’s dilemma.

What Dilemma?

Here’s the thing. If you’re a writer, you of course, want to do a good — no, a GREAT job.

And when you do, your clients will reap the rewards of your terrific writing. They’ll get all the credit — and the profit — for it.

There’s the rub. They’re YOUR words and, sometimes, even YOUR ideas, and yet… someone else is enjoying the limelight and the $$$.

This is why I found myself feeling annoyed, jealous, a victim of some injustice, and not a little disappointed in myself that I had sunk this low.

(I must clarify that I had these feelings only about the blog posts I have ghostwritten. I think it’s because most blog readers assume a blog post is written by the blog owner, or whomever is cited as the post author. In the case of a sales page, on the other hand, most people assume a copywriter has been hired to write it.)

I don’t know, maybe I was just in a funk and wanted to get some credit for a job well done.

Now, as I write this, I’m asking myself, “Why don’t you feel the same way about emails you’ve written for other people? Those are very lucrative for your clients!”

Honestly, I don’t know the answer.

Quit Whining!

I do know I need to quit whining and put on a different perspective.

The bottom line is this: I write for a living.

And to continue to make a living, my writing has to bring my clients acclaim, status, fans, customers/clients — success. Therefore, the more accolades (and profits) my clients make, the happier I should be. It’s a testament to MY great writing.

I just need to keep reminding myself of this, and to not take things so personally, dagnabit!

Besides, I’m writing in another person’s voice, not my own. My words have the impact they have only because they’re associated with my clients’ personas.

Really, if I published those same posts in my own blogs, they would NOT have the same impact. After all, I’m not considered an expert in X, Y, and Z. And having done the research to create articles in those topics does NOT make me an expert.

Finally, I need to harness all these negative emotions and use them to motivate me to nurture my own writing. The one I do with my name as the author.

At the very least, this means never neglecting my blogs, no matter how busy I get with client work (right now, Blog Energizer is helping me keep this and my other blog active and updated).

This should also motivate me to keep creating my own information products, and package up my own expertise.

Your Thoughts?

Have you ever felt like this? How do you cope with it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

photo credit: Victor Bezrukov

Originally published at thesavvyfreelancer.com.

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