Weekend Wrinkle: Need a Ghost (Writer)?

By Barbara E.R. Lucas

Ghostly Smith Corona typer
Photo by Ellen Jantzen, www.ellenjantzen.com. You can view more of her work at Susan Spiritus Gallery

Ghost writers are not just for superstars. You don’t need to be a celebrity writing a book about your latest scandal or an athlete with no time to put thoughts on paper to benefit from having a ghost (writer) around.

Many professionals use them to help with everything from Twitter feeds to letters to magazine articles. A good one will ask the right questions, do some research, and help achieve your goals.

Blogs are a great place to ask a ghost writer to step in and help. You have an idea but no time. Or you have a brain cramp which makes writing difficult. Blogs can seem relentless – you want to stay on a schedule of posting regularly, but everyone needs a vacation. A ghost will float in, and readers should not know the difference.

Asking for help in getting a blog post together can be the perfect introduction to the ghost experience.

In my career, I have written for audiences from 10-year-olds to medical professionals, electricians to domestic engineers. My work has appeared (under my name or the name of my clients) everywhere from Twitter to national specialty magazines.

The length of what I create changes radically. So does the language used and the tone of voice. When you’re a ghost, the object is to be invisible but helpful. Think Casper the Friendly Ghost, not the ghoulish creatures from The Shining.

A good ghost writer will sound exactly like you – only better. He or she will not try to take over your brain, just ride on your shoulder for a while to see things from your point of view.

So, how do you find such help? Find a writer whose work you enjoy reading or look around at who in your extended circle might have these skills. LinkedIn can be a great tool for that. You are looking for someone with fairly wide-ranging talents, perhaps with knowledge in your field.

The greatest compliment for a ghost writer is when nobody knows your work. Is it tough to hear nice things said about your writing and not be able to claim it? Not really. It means your cloak of invisibility is well-crafted, and there will be more assignments.

Remember: a good ghost will help all year round, not just on Halloween.

Barbara E.R. Lucas has been the woman behind the words for many years. She has extended experience as a writer and communicator having worked as a newspaper writer and editor, and public relations and communications (spirit) guide. Visit her at www.blucaswrites.com.


Halloween and the Writing Animal

Annette the Undertaker

Halloween has always been special to me.  It combines two of my favorite things:  pretending to be someone else and candy.

There’s something about recreating myself as something totally different that’s just plain fun. As an adult (maybe even especially as an adult), I love to think about how to build a costume and character.  Something as simple as a Teddy bear can get the wheels in my head turning and my eyes scanning the house, the yard, and the thrift store for supplies.

I’ve been some cool characters in my time. A grey* sheet from a discount store turned me into Gandalf the Grey in college. (My roommate dressed up as a dwarf and a friend as an elf. It was a good year.)

I actually hand-sewed a Teddy bear costume from a furry blanket once. (I avoid sewing machines since my mishaps with them are legendary.) I’ve dressed up as an undertaker, a fly, and Morticia Addams. Last year I even dressed up as a vacationing witch (complete with broom and Hawaiian shirt) for one of my classes.

At my age, is this normal?

Who cares?!

As a writer, it is essential for me to step outside myself and become something else. I must put on the guise of the client or the reader to make my writing communicate more effectively.  I need to be able to gather the resources around me to create something that may be different from my norm.

Any type of writing involves creating something great from the raw materials that encircle us.

Fiction writers use the same skills to create characters as I do when I create costumes. They take the resources that surround them (situations, landscapes, personalities, politics) and remold them into something new.

Like a Halloween costume, it’s familiar enough to be believable while fantastic enough to be exciting.

That’s the fun part about being a writer. Is it any wonder I love a masquerade?

*Before you guys get on your high horses to tell me I’ve spelled “grey” wrong, I looked it up, and this version is interchangeable with “gray” although the “a” spelling is preferred in the United States. Hey, I like “grey” better. So there! (Insert Bronx cheer here.)