As a communications company, Quo Vadis is often called on to produce writing on behalf of our clients. These can take the form of speeches, indepth articles, or quotes for a media release, all of which will be published in the client’s name. This is called “ghostwriting”.
People often react with amazement on being told that we ghostwrite, finding it difficult to believe that we would be happy to see our writing published in someone else’s name. However, it’s very satisfying to create something with which a client is sufficiently comfortable to see published in his or her name.
There is an art to ghostwriting, however, which requires the application of various skills.
The first requirement is an open mind. As a ghostwriter, one is challenged to see and understand the world from the client’s point of view. One can’t do that if one has fixed, rigid and inflexible ideas. That doesn’t mean, of course, that as a writer one doesn’t have an opinion! It just means being willing to enter into someone else’s thought space in a way that allows one to write with assurance from his or her point of view.
This process is helped by the second requirement: a willingness to explore new subjects, even if one has had no interest in them previously.
My favourite example is being asked to write about concrete, something about which I had not previously had much awareness. But having visited a few building sites to observe concrete “in action”, I discovered that concrete is fascinating. Opening my mind to the beauty of concrete enabled me to write about it with conviction and sincerity.
A third essential part of ghostwriting is to feel that you have got under the skin, as it were, of your client. When ghostwriting, it often helps to mentally “hear” the client say the words that are being written, in their own voices with their own unique inflections, timbre and accents.
In this way, words that may be uncomfortable for them, or ones that they might stumble over during the delivery of a speech, can be avoided. This also helps to make judgments about the length and complexity of sentences – should they be short and direct, or more complex in structure?
These are just three of the techniques used in ghostwriting in a business environment. Good quality ghostwriting allows one to connect with one’s client and his or her mind.
One of my clients likes to describe me as her “secret weapon”, freely acknowledging that she does not have writing expertise, as a result of which she makes use of our services to write her speeches, articles and media releases.
As a ghostwriter, being a “secret weapon” is the ultimate compliment.
- Ruth Coggin is an Executive Strategist at Quo Vadis Communications