Building Your Business…and Pursuing Your Passions

I’m still digesting Joey’s post from last week, “The Ghost Materializes“. Thankfully, on Friday morning, I was able to get together to hang out with both Joey and Ed over a cup of coffee. It was a great time to catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives and work, and to discuss writing and ghostwriting.

Joey’s post, as I told the guys, was poignant for me as I’ve been feeling the itch to begin writing a novel of my own. I was great to talk about how we might balance careers as ghostwriters and vocations as writers. Continue reading “Building Your Business…and Pursuing Your Passions”

The Importance of Outlining

The process of ghostwriting a book is a long and complicated one. Even for a veteran writer, each new project begins with trepidation. In our business and preparation, it’s easy to forget that for many of our clients, this is their first time working on a book project. If the feeling of being overwhelmed affects us as writers, imagine how it makes our clients feel!

I’ve found that one of the best things you can do to center both you and your client throughout the book writing period is to put in the right effort, time, and energy into the book outline. Continue reading “The Importance of Outlining”

Writer, Retreat!

So you may have noticed that I missed my post last Monday…or maybe I’m just dreaming you pay that much attention! First off, apologies for missing my post. I was on a retreat with some fellow pastors in Payson, Arizona, a beautiful wooded, highland part of Arizona that would make you question if you were really in a state famous for deserts. When we took off north from Phoenix into the highlands, I was confident I’d be able to use the downtime to write my post in the evening. But to my surprise the cabin didn’t have Internet access. In fact it didn’t even have phone reception! So, I couldn’t even type out my post on the infinitely frustrating touch keyboard of my iPhone.

In the end, it turns out the forced fast from technology was a blessing in disguise. It’s been a long time since I’ve been completely disconnected, and I’d almost completely forgot what it felt like.

So, what I’m not going to do here is belabor a simple point, which is this: Get away from technology. Take a day or two to refocus. Reconnect with your soul.

You’ll thank me for it. It will make you a better writer.

Retreat.

See you next week.

Garrison Keillor Laments the Death of Publishing

“Call me a pessimist,” Keillor writes in his latest New York Times Op-Ed , “Call me Ishmael, but I think that book publishing is about to slide into the sea.”

He goes on to mourn the loss of value in writing and readership:

We live in a literate time, and our children are writing up a storm, often combining letters and numerals (U R 2 1derful), blogging like crazy, reading for hours off their little screens, surfing around from Henry James to Jesse James to the epistle of James to pajamas to Obama to Alabama to Alanon to non-sequiturs, sequins, penguins, penal institutions, and it’s all free, and you read freely, you’re not committed to anything the way you are when you shell out $30 for a book, you’re like a hummingbird in an endless meadow of flowers.

Worse yet, Keillor muses, writing itself, by becoming democratized, is becoming meaningless and worthless:

And if you want to write, you just write and publish yourself. No need to ask permission, just open a Web site. And if you want to write a book, you just write it, send it to Lulu.com or BookSurge at Amazon or PubIt or ExLibris and you’ve got yourself an e-book. No problem. And that is the future of publishing: 18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives. Average annual earnings: $1.75.

Back in the day, we became writers through the laying on of hands. Some teacher who we worshipped touched our shoulder, and this benediction saw us through a hundred defeats. And then an editor smiled on us and wrote us a check and our babies got shoes. But in the New Era, writers will be self-anointed. No passing of the torch. Just sit down and write the book. And the New York Times, the great brand name of publishing, will vanish (POOF) whose imprimatur you covet for your book (“brilliantly lyrical, edgy, suffused with light” — NY Times). And editors will vanish.

The upside of self-publishing is that you can write whatever you wish, utter freedom, and that also is the downside. You can write whatever you wish and everyone in the world can exercise their right to read the first three sentences and delete the rest.

The Death of the Gatekeepers

Of course, Keillor isn’t really lamenting the death of publishing. What he’s really lamenting is the death of the Gatekeepers. The (often) self-anointed literati who have for a couple centuries defined what is good and what is bad writing—and controlled the flow of information to the masses. Continue reading “Garrison Keillor Laments the Death of Publishing”

Writer Got Back…Pain

OK. Now that my title has got that Sir Mix-A-Lot song stuck in your head, I can safely assure you that I’m not writing a blog post on writers’ butts this morning.

No, this morning’s post is on something even nearer and dearer to my heart—my actual back.

Last Monday morning, just after I hit the publish button on my “Why You’re Not a Writer” post, I completely locked up my lower back. I mean it was toast.

Here’s how it went down. I was just getting out of the shower, had my leg up on a stool, and was drying it off when I coughed. And that’s all she wrote. I felt a sharp twinge in my lower back, I hit the deck, and the spasms kicked in.

It hurt like hell.

I spent seven hours on the floor Monday morning. I could hardly move without pain, and standing up was out of the question. I tried to get some work done, but it hurt too much to have my head propped up to read the screen. I was completely immobilized.

As the week went on, I slowly got better. Today, I’m still stiff, but I’m able to be up and about, and I can sit at my desk again with relatively little pain.

But I learned a valuable lesson this week: As a writer, you’re nothing without your back.

Continue reading “Writer Got Back…Pain”

Why You’re Not a Writer

I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man. – Jay-Z

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you never woke up one morning as a kid and said, “I want to be a ghostwriter when I grow up.”

More than likely you said, “I want to be a writer.”

The reality is that most of us stumble into ghostwriting because the ultimate goal is to be a writer…an author. At some point in our writing journey we picked up a client or two, made some good money, and realized that there was this whole industry of people who write for other people, as other people, in the shadows of the literary world. Word got out, clients referred other clients, and before we knew it, we were ghostwriters.

So let me cut to the chase: When you’re a ghostwriter, you’re not a writer. You’re a business.

Continue reading “Why You’re Not a Writer”

Five Must-Have Productivity Tools for Writers

More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve been so lost in my own thoughts that I’ve become oblivious to the rest of the world. Usually this results in minor setbacks like missing a turn when driving or leaving too many loose ends. Sometimes it gets much more dangerous.

Sometimes I ignore my wife.

It’s not on purpose, mind you. It’s just that even though I’m subconsciously aware that she’s talking to me (about very important things I might add), I’m so lost in my head that I actually don’t hear what she’s saying. Ashamedly, I’ve had to look over at her and say, “I’m sorry, honey. I have to admit that I didn’t catch a word you say.”

It’s taken me years of stupid listening skills to realize that when you’re a writer, organization is paramount.

As writers, we have dozens of thought streams flying through our head at a given time. After all, we make a living off of chasing ideas through the caverns of our brains. The trick is to capture those thoughts quickly, get them categorized, and then move on with life. You have to own your thoughts, not let them own you.

Only then can you appear to be a fully functioning adult—instead of the freak we all know you (and me) are.

Here are a five great organization tools I’ve come across that help me stay on top of my writing game. Continue reading “Five Must-Have Productivity Tools for Writers”

Five Ways I Overcome Writer’s Block

This morning I rolled out of bed facing a huge load of client work and swiftly approaching deadlines (they’re still there). And I’ll be honest. I just didn’t feel like working. And I especially didn’t feel like writing this post. I guess you could say I had writer’s block. Maybe you can relate.

The general advice I hear for writer’s block is to just sit down and plow through it. And that works from time to time. But it doesn’t necessarily create compelling writing. It generally creates listless and dispassionate words on a paper—and a grumpy writer who starts thinking whiskey sounds good at 8 a.m. Not a good combination.

So, I’m going to offer here five ways that I overcome my writer’s malaise when it comes on strong. Continue reading “Five Ways I Overcome Writer’s Block”