I think a lot of writers suffer from impostor syndrome. It happens when you have the seeming inability to internalize your own successes and are petrified of being exposed for the horrible fraud you are.
I feel this way every time I put my fingers to the keyboard.
I’ve ghostwritten nearly twenty novella/novel length books, so why do I still feel this way? A little bit of it can certainly be attributed to low-to-moderate self-esteem. Another fraction of the blame can be laid at the feet of my perfectionism. I’m type A, and I like things to be just so. I have high standards, and I think that most people have the same high standards I do.
The funny thing is, most people don’t. Yes, the average reader is going to notice if your grammar is off, or your document is rife with misspellings, but they aren’t looking for the things that you the writer are. The average reader is not looking for minor plot discrepancies, and will only notice if you’ve left a plot hole you could drive a school bus through. The average reader doesn’t think your dialogue reads as stiff or stilted. The average reader doesn’t think your plot is predicable and that you should really just retire from the writing business altogether.
Those thoughts are all yours. And do you know why they occur? Because you’ve been over this story a million times in your head. You know the ins and outs of it, and it seems as predicable to you as the sunrise. The reader has the benefit of fresh eyes and doesn’t know where the story is going. If you’ve done your job right, they won’t know what to expect.
Now all the above could also apply to regular writing as well. How can you be happy with your ghostwriting? Here are a few tips.
- Keep in mind you’re on a deadline- Most of the stuff you turn in is a glorified rough draft. Most people who hire you for ghostwriting give you only a month or three to finish a book. That’s quite a task, and you should be proud you’re able to do it. The first draft of a story is never as good as it can be. If this is what you’re required to turn in, keep that in mind. It’s not perfect. It might be ugly. To paraphrase Mary Shelley, the story you wrote is your brainchild. So be proud of your baby, even if it’s ugly.
- Most Writers are Not Editors- Contrary to popular opinion, most writers aren’t particularly good editors. I know that I myself have a tendency to misplace commas. I also think that spellcheck and Grammarly are a godsend. I always run my stuff through a text to speech converter to catch minor errors, and entrust it to my husband for a rough edit. I try to make sure that nothing goes to my client with egregious mechanical errors. If you can afford it, hire someone to edit your stuff. You don’t have to be a super editor to be a good writer.
- Tell your internal editor to shove it- Your internal editor, critic, or screaming lunatic will be loud. It will tell you to go back this instant and change that sentence or revise that chapter. Shove a sock in its mouth and keep going. If you stop to fuss over every chapter, you are never getting done with your project. You’ll find in time that the editor will only send you into a spiral of self-loathing about once a month if you ignore it for long enough. And lastly…
- It’s not actually your work- You should always strive to deliver the best product you can. Keeping the above in mind that it’s never going to be perfect, this one can actually provide a lot of peace. At the end of the day, it’s not your name going on the book. You will not have to look back with embarrassment at it when you eventually write something you want to publish.
Loving your writing, or any other art you make, can be hard. Artists are usually their own worst enemies. Today, I’d just like anyone who’s struggling with their projects to know they’re not alone. I hope that my tips can help someone to accept their own work.
As always, if you have any more questions about ghostwriting, you can feel free to subscribe or to contact me. If there’s a topic you’d like me to cover next, I’d be happy to look into it and hopefully post about it soon. Thank you for reading.