What it’s like to be a ghostwriter

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a newspaper article about ghostwriting by Christopher Shulgan…

Have you ever toyed with the idea of becoming a ghostwriter? I’ve never done the task (although I have written a few speeches for high-powered executives). But I recently read a piece in my daily newspaper in which a ghostwriter reflected on his work.

That writer was Christopher Shulgan, (pictured above), a former writer-at-large for Toro magazine, and a frequent contributor to such Canadian media as The Globe and Mail and Maclean’s. Most recently he was ghost writer for The One-Minute Workout by Martin Gibala.

Here is what Shulgan views as essential job requirements of ghostwriting: 

It helps to be impervious to criticism. And psychic when it comes to interpreting editorial feedback. I happened upon the key skill early in my career when I ran a magazine that relied on a handful of volunteer contributors.

With more empty pages than writers to fill them, I would dash off articles myself and slap a pen name at the top. The practice helped me develop the ability to write comfortably in a variety of voices.

I can’t say the work interests me, but be aware that it typically pays significantly better than many other forms of writing. So if that’s your primary motivator, you might want to check out the idea. Read Shulgan’s article here.