I’ve been asked many times how I became a ghostwriter. And I can see why, for two main reasons: Firstly, it’s not a common profession - although we ghostwriters are more widespread than you think, the nature of our occupation means we work behind the scenes.
And secondly, people don’t generally know a lot about it, so they’re interested to find out what attracted me to it.
Let’s face it, ghostwriting is not a profession young people consider when they’re trying to decide on a career path.
I’ve never once heard a teenager say, ‘I want to be a ghostwriter,’ when asked what their plans are after leaving school. And I can guarantee it’s not on any high school careers advisor’s list.
All You Need Is Love...And Experience
It’s probably just as well, because the one thing you need to be a ghostwriter, more than qualifications and natural writing talent, is writing experience.
All sorts; the more variety, the better.
Every single ghostwriter I know, me included, has never set out to be a ghostwriter, but has become one through or because of other writing professions.
It’s something you morph into, or, in my case, it’s an opportunity that comes up that you take out of curiosity.
In my memoir Making the Breast of It I describe how being diagnosed with breast cancer gave me the impetus to leave my stressful job as a probation and parole officer, and follow my dream of being a full-time writer.
At that stage, I’d also been a freelance writer for many years, fitting it around my job. I wrote articles for the print media (before digital took over), did some copywriting and in between all of that, I wrote short stories and novels.
Taking A Leap Into Full-Time Writing
My real love was novel writing, so after finishing my cancer treatment and resigning from my job, I took a couple of years off to spend my time writing my novels.
Here’s more about my novels.
At the end of that time, I had to face reality. Much as I’d loved spending my days with my head in the world of my stories and characters, it wasn’t earning me a living. I had to find a job, a ‘real’ job.
I obtained a casual position with a private agency as a social support worker for the aged. My first job was visiting a delightful 76-year-old gentleman named Doug.
Doug was in the early stages of dementia and Doug’s partner, knowing I was a writer, asked me if I would write his life story before he lost his memory completely.
My First Life Story As A Ghostwriter
While I’d written many character profiles for magazines as a freelance writer, I’d never written a full life story, and wasn’t sure if it was something I’d enjoy.
But I agreed to do it, because it was such a worthwhile thing to do for the family. Every week when I visited Doug, we’d chat about his life and I’d record our conversations and transform them into chapters.
I found that I really enjoyed the process, and in retrospect, I don’t know why I doubted that I’d like it.
I’ve always been interested in other people’s lives – just call me a stickybeak!
Doug also loved reminiscing about the different events in his life; he’d had a varied life as a cheese maker, an officer in the Australian Army in the Civil Affairs Unit in Vietnam, a mature-aged student and then a scientist with a PhD, and the founder of an international education consultancy.
Around The Ridges
I completed his story by filling in the gaps in his memory with information from other family members.
We called the book Around The Ridges, and Doug’s stepdaughter created a small book with photos using an online program, and had a few copies printed out for family members.
The family loved the book and were very appreciative of my efforts, and I felt a great sense of satisfaction – not only creatively, but also because I’d helped them produce something lasting that was important to them.
Then Came Bob...
Another resident of Doug’s aged care facility had heard about my writing his story, and approached me to ask if I could write his.
‘I’ve been looking for someone to write my story for 20 years,’ he said plaintively.
How could I refuse? That was Bob, a pioneer of the Queensland Ambulance Service, whose story I tell here on my website.
After I’d written Bob’s story, a couple more people approached me, and I realized I’d stumbled upon a popular and rapidly-growing writing niche.
The general population is recognizing the importance of telling their story for their family, or to chronicle their struggles and achievements to give hope and inspiration to others.
Starting My Ghostwriting Business
I set up my business as a ghostwriter and I haven’t looked back.
The work is consistent (in fact, I have a waiting list), I hear lots of fascinating stories and learn new stuff, I spend my days doing what I love, and I’m also helping others to make their mark on the world.
If you’ve got a story to tell and want someone to write it for you, I can help. Just click the button below, and then click on the big green button on my ghostwriter page. I look forward to speaking with you.
Share on Pinterest