Tag Archives | ghostwriting

Five on Friday: Glories of Coffee Edition

Writing OutsideGood morning! Let’s dive in.

What crisis occurred this morning: I woke to the news that the electric coffee pot was not working.   This was not good. This was very, very bad. I pulled out my phone and looked up the hours of the nearest Starbucks (luckily, we’ve got at least three within a very quick five-minute sprint) while hub plugged and unplugged the pot and pressed the on button repeatedly. It didn’t help. Finally, he had the brilliant idea to boil water and pour it through. That worked. I have coffee.  I will not not murder anybody.

What I’m picking off my computer: Fir needles. It hit 85 degrees here yesterday, a record, and I sat outside beneath the fir tree and worked all afternoon. My computer was also covered in pollen when I came in, like absolutely every horizontal surface in this town. Which is why every human who lives here is sneezing, blowing their nose or itching their eyes, like me.

What I’m working on: I have a ghostwriting project that I’m really enjoying. Its an intense subject, but lots of good ultimately came from it.  We had some wonderful new students at our bi-weekly Wednesday Writers group this week, and we now have a good number sitting around the table talking about writing, all of whom are doing wonderful work. And I have several amazing  students and clients (Hi Mitch, Hi Courtney) who are producing regularly and several working quietly behind the scenes.  At least they better be working. (You know who you are–you’re working, right?)

And workshops–I got workshops! There’s the three-day Mapping Your Novel at Sitka Center in June (which is close to half full), France in September, which is one person away from being full, and COMING RIGHT UP is a workshop here in Portland called How to Write a Book. It is April 23, all day Saturday and it’s going to be a ton of fun, so if you live here, join us.

Oh, wait, what, you want to know what personal projects I’m working on? Well, um, er, I haven’t decided yet. I’ve got so many ideas for novels and stories in my head I’ve had a hard time landing on one. But I think I’m getting closer. I totally kind of drive myself crazy in the between-projects stage.  I can tell you another cool project I’m working on, though. It is going to be a series of prompt journals that I’m very excited about.  I’m creating these with my cousin’s wife Nancy, also known as the Sister-From-Another-Mother.  Look for them to be out soon.

What I’m reading: Honestly, a pretty silly romance.  But the reason I’m reading it is that I’ve realized, duh, that women’s fiction grew out of the romance genre,  so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go to the roots and see how books are constructed. The bare bones of the structure in a romance makes it easy to parse.

And then there’s a book I’m not really reading, but more using as a reference. It is James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing for Publication.  But really, it is about a whole lot more than revision. What I like about it is that he has short sections on various topics, such as character, setting, etc., with bullet pointed information that makes it easier to process. There are also longer swaths of exposition, but those are easily ignorable if you are so inclined, as I am. I got this book from the library and I’ve renewed it a couple times but I think someone else now has it on hold and it is overdue. So if you’re the one waiting for it, I’m sorry! I’ll get it back soon.

What I’m doing this weekend: Organizing my office. I know! I’ve said this every Friday for the last few weeks. But I’ve made progress, I swear. (Though if you saw the stacks of boxes on the floor of my office, you might not think so.) Last weekend we got the area where the boxes had been stored cleaned up. And there’s just a few odds and ends left over to move down.  Things I rarely use and thus don’t know what to do with.

I will admit that I spend very little time on the organizing during the week, because I’m so busy and important. That’s a joke, by the way.  But it just always seems that the things I’m working on take priority.  If I were a brave woman, I would share photos of my messy office. But I’m not, so I won’t.

That is absolutely all I have today. What’s up with you?

4

Five on Friday: A Little Late-ish

storage-44156-m (1)Another Friday rolls around and here’s a look at the week…

What I’m Learning: More is more. Of course, some might say this has been my motto all my life.  Sigh. But what I mean is that sometimes it is easier to do more than less. Like more writing. I know, I hear you groaning.  A full post will follow in which I will explain all.

What I’m Reading: Turns out I don’t much care for mysteries which feature animals who talk, and so I’ve ditched The Oat Cake Crag, following the advice of Austin Kleon in his post, How to Read More.)  I’ve just finished The Unlikely Lavender Queen from last week and am about to dive in to Ethan Canin’s new book. I’ve got a stack of women’s fiction I’m eager to read, but the Canin book comes from the library and its got a gazillion holds on it so I can’t renew it so it has to be read first.

What I’m Working On: Besides my writing, office organization. Yes, again. I had some boxes stashed upstairs that came down and things had to be put away and in the middle of putting together a file box, I got distracted by Lord only knows what so everything is piled up on my work table.

What I’m Writing: Just passed 75K words on the project I thought I wouldn’t finish, the one I started one lovely afternoon in Collioure last September.  Coming down the home stretch! I’m actually really enjoying working on it.  I also have an absorbing new ghostwriting project, working on a book proposal for a very intense and topical book.

Who’s Helping Me: My grandson Henry, who is stapling, hole punching, drawing and playing with Washi tape next to me as I write this.  When I was little, the favorite game of my sisters and I was Office.  Our father built us a little wood room in the basement and brought home cast off office supplies from his printing plant. So I figure I can start Henry early, too.  Alas, his cousin Olivia could care less, but she is obsessed with dolls and stuffed bears, which were my other love.  So live is good.

What’s going on with you? What are you writing? What are you doing in the rest of life? Do tell.

Photo by ppdigital.

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This Series on Writing Fast Will Blow Your Creative Mind–and Inspire You

This morning, thanks to Karen Woodward, I was introduced to a series on ghostwriting a novel in 10 days by Dean Wesley Smith.

Yes, I said 10 days.  As in, writing a full, complete novel in 10 days.

Dean Wesley Smith is ghosting a novel contracted by a major publisher for an author who is a bestseller and whose name would be recognizable to all of us.  (Yes, the world of ghostwriting is sometimes a shady place.)

He's set himself the goal of finishing the novel in 10 days, and along the way, he is documenting his progress with regular updates to his blog.  It's really worth reading.  Here are the posts so far:

Day one.

Day two.

And you might want to read this one as well:

Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Writing Fast.

When Smith says he writes fast, he means it–he gets up, gets to the computer (he uses two–one with no internet access and thus no temptations) and gets to work.  It appears that he writes in bursts, knocking off a 1000 words or so before taking a break to eat or answer email (at the second computer) or what have you. And then he rinses and repeats, on and on throughout the day.

But here's the deal: he's writing.  Not endlessly revising, not thinking about writing, not wondering if his work is any good (confidence is not this man's problem), but writing. 

I think we can all learn a lesson from this.  I know reading his posts  inspired me and afterwards, I polished off the first draft of a short story I'd been agonizing over.  I'm sure I spend way too much time pondering deep thoughts and not actually writing. Even if we don't want to emulate every aspect of his practice, we can learn from parts of it.

Oh yeah, and guess what?  He starts out with no idea where he's going.  And he doesn't rewrite.  This draft will be it.

Freakin' incredible.

Here are things I noted/wondered about as I read:

–When does he take a shower?

–When does he exercise?

–He has a wife to cook for him.  Or someone.  Dinner magically appears.

–He probaby has a house cleaner as well.  There's no attention paid to such mundane matters.

–He's able to set his own schedule (stay up until wee hours of the morning, sleep until 1 PM).

But even with all that being said, his accomplishment is amazing.

What do you think?  Does this appeal to you or do you think he's a hack (he's got a gazillion novels to his credit)?  Do you write slow or fast?  I'd love it if you left a comment.

6

Ghostwriting: A Cautionary Tale

Typewriter_Writing_Writer_238822_lEverything about the potential ghostwriting client sounded great:

  • He came to me through a referral
  • He had a treatment for his book written up
  • He had a book contract ready to go

We emailed back and forth a couple of times and then set up a time to talk.

I was both daunted and excited about the prospect of taking on this writing project.  Daunted because it would be turning a film treatment into a novel, something I've never done before.  Daunted also because the genre was military fiction, not particularly in my comfort zone.

The excitement came because of the challenges of writing fiction in someone else's voice.  I thought it would be good practice for me.  So, too, I decided that writing fiction for someone else would light a fire under my butt seat and reinvigorate my own novel writing.

And so I prepared, pondering potential word counts, toting up figures, and coming up with what I felt was a fair fee.  At the appointed time, I called the potential client for our chat.

I knew two minutes in that we wouldn't be working together.

Why? Because he uttered these words: "I was hoping to find a collaborator who would be willing to split the profits with me."

Split the profits being the tip-off.

Because odds are good there won't not be any.  And then I've worked for months on a project without any pay. 

Why do people so often think that writers are willing to work for no pay?  On the off chance there might someday be some money involved?  Guys, I gotta eat, and I have a mortgage to pay, just like you.

I said all this, albeit a bit more politely, and carried on with the conversation.  I inquired about his book contract and that turned out to be an opportunity to pay a company lots of money to have them publish his book.  Not a scam, but just short of it.

Dreams of glory die hard.  People think its easy to write a book and get it published.  Heavy sigh.  My no-longer-a-potential-client and I had a good talk, with me filling him in on traditional paths to publication versus self-publishing.  I think I was helpful to him.

I hung up the phone disappointed. I generally have a pretty good radar for when this is going to happen, but this one fooled me.  I was enticed by the thought that he already had a contract, and that he came via referral.  Sounded like he was serious to me.

Another day in the life of a ghostwriter.

What about you?  Have you ever had someone expect you to write something for free?

***Don't forget to use this dark time of year to generate lots of new ideas for 2012.  Read more about my class on the subject here.

Photo by kiamedia.

 

4

Should You Hire A Ghostwriter or Write It Yourself?

Of all the things that I do, ghostwriting seems to garner the most interest.  Recently, Twitter and blogging buddy Patrick Ross mentioned in a comment that he'd like to hear more about it.  (He also passed along the Stylish Blogger award.  Thanks, Patrick!) So here you go.

In this post, I'm going to look at the difference between hiring a ghostwriter or writing the book yourself, perhaps with some coaching along the way.  In general, I'm a huge fan of writing the book yourself. Dcist_ghost_halloween_391239_l

Why do I believe this?

Because even though it is a ghostwriter's job to enter the head of the client and write like he or she would, the most authentic voices still come from the client himself.   But sometimes writing it yourself just isn't possible.  So let's consider when you might want to hire a ghostwriter:

  • When you don't have time to write it yourself
  • When you don't have the inclination to write it yourself
  • When you know you hate writing
  • When you realize that your time could better be spent on other aspects of your business
  • When the subject you want to write about is way out of your area of expertise

Most political books are ghostwritten.  (Do you really think Sarah Palin or Al Gore has the time to write a book?  I actually have a passing acquaintance with the guy who helped Al with his book, help being a euphenism for doing all the work.) Some self-help books are ghostwritten.  (Again, can you picture Dr. Phil sitting down to write his very own little book?) And even some novels are ghostwritten.  (It was widely rumored that Margaret Truman's mysteries were ghostwritten.  And then you you have authors like what's his name, um….the guy who write the Alex Cross mysteries–Jame Patterson!  He has a whole stable of writers who churn out crap books for him.)

But you, my dear friend or client, are different.  You have a passionate idea inside you that your long to express into the world for a variety of reasons.  Perhaps you have a business you want to promote, or you desire to begin a speaking career.  Perhaps you are looking for a career change, or in loftier ambitions, have an idea that will change the world.  So have a book inside you that needs to come out.

And while it may be tempting to hire a ghostwriter, I believe that you have the chops to do it yourself.  Consider this:

  • Ghostwriting is labor-intensive and so it is expensive. 
  • There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your name on the cover of a book–and knowing you wrote it yourself.
  • Writing a book probably isn't nearly as difficult as you've made it out to be in that fertile brain of yours.

For some lucky reason, I think that book-writing is not only fun, but easy.  I think this harks back to my days in elementary school, when there was nothing I loved better than getting assigned a school report on a country, or a planet, or even something as simple as a bird.  I couldn't wait to find out what topic I'd be assigned, and once I found out, I sprinted to the library to start researching.  Love writing those reports.  And today I love writing books.

But I believe you can write your book yourself.  And that you can actually enjoy doing it.  I know, I know.  But trust me, it is possible.  

Because this post went in a slightly different direction than I first intended, and got long at the same time, I think I'll do another post on the same topic, slightly different focus, looking at ghostwriting more from the writer's side of things.

In the meantime, if I've convinced you to write the book yourself, I am offering a telelclass on Book Proposals That Succeed, and the early-bird pricing ends this Friday.  Check it out here.

 Photograph by katmere from Everystockphoto.com

7

Process or Product?

I recently found a pillow I made ten years ago, when I attended Creativity Camp led by Julia Cameron, ProcessPillow author of the Artist's Way (as if you didn't know that).  The camp was great, life-changing, really, particularly in that I met a couple of people who I remain friends with to this day.  The way it worked was that Julia led us through Artist's Way activities all morning and in the afternoon we could take our choice of classes–yoga, performance tips, drumming, and painting.  Or one could head into town (the camp was located in Taos, New Mexico) or stroll about the gorgeous land. 

I did a little of each, and one afternoon landed in the painting class, in which we painted pillows.  Freshly inspired by the morning's activities, I wrote one of my favorite sayings of Julia's on my pillow: Process is Everything, Product Happens.  As my late mother would say, clevo, huh?

Back in those days I was still a bit of a dabbler at writing.  I'd been working on fiction off and on for years and done a little free-lancing.  I'd not gotten my MFA, nor ever done any ghost-writing or copy-writing.  And I believed fervently in the saying on my pillow, that if only I remembered to focus on process, everything else would follow.

I think I still believe in that, but I'm not sure.  I know for a fact that when I sit down these days to write fiction, if I worry too much about the end result–the product–I'll cramp up and not be able to write a word.  Conversely, if I don't have some idea of what I want to write, some structure in mind, I'll not be able to write, either.  Or, more to the point, I write too much, allowing myself to meander through all kinds of tangents.

Process is pure creativity, writing fast, free writing, not stopping to think.  It is bliss when it happens.  And I advocate going for this kind of free and fast writing whenever you possibly can. 

But there comes a time when you have to put product first.  I can hear the gasps of horror coming from you, and I'm ignoring them.  When I sit down to write a book for a client, I have to put product first.  Number one, I'm being paid to produce a product.  Number two, if I don't have a clear image of what the client wants, the project is sunk from the start.  So most of my projects for clients start with product upper-most in my mind.

However.

Once I get the product firmly in mind and know exactly what I'm writing, then I can head for process land.  Because the writing process for clients is no different than it is for myself–write a rough draft, and then follow it with successive drafts that get cleaner and clearer every time.  And, for me, the only way to get a draft out on paper is to let it rip.  To go wholeheartedly into process, trusting that the product will follow.

I think the product/process conundrum is a bit chicken and egg-ish.  One can't exist without the other and they both have their place.  So, maybe I do still believe in the message on my pillow.  Or I would if it had some good editing.  But try as I might, I can't think how to change the saying to make it more pertinent.

Any ideas?

7

A Successful Writing Life

Last week at the Fall Writer's Loft orientation, we held a panel on The Writing Life.  I moderated, and mentors Bill Brown, David Pierce, and Linda Busby Parker participated.  It was a freewheeling and wide-ranging discussion, as I'd hoped.  Since I was moderating, I scribbled notes, just in case the conversation lagged and I needed to get it going again.  That didn't happen, but looking back over my notes gives some idea of what all we covered:

  • Finding a balance between making a living and writing
  • Tips on just doing it
  • The value of getting into the flow of writing 1,000 words a day, no matter what
  • "Stay with it" momentum (see above)
  • Handling rejection
  • Pointing yourself in a specific direction
  • Switch it up–try non-fiction if you mostly write fiction, etc.
  • The pressure to write a blog and keep up with twitter and social media
  • The best writer's conferences and events
  • How to use prompts
  • And we covered all this in 45 minutes…

After I got back home to the lovely (and hot) PDX, I started pondering the writing life anew.  I didn't talk much at the panel, as it was not intended to be about me.  But many people have expressed interest in the writing life that I have created for myself.  While I don't yet make buckets of money and I'm not a household name, I do have a satisfying life that I love.  It gives me tons of freedom and independence, which are two of my most important personal values.  I can pretty much do what I want when I want, though let us not forget I earn this right by being slavishly devoted to my clients and their deadlines. (Just so you don't think I'm a slacker all the time.)

Anyway, I started thinking about some of the things I've done to create myself a writing life and came up with the following:

1.  Decide what kind of writing life you want.  Do you want to pick a job that doesn't require you give it your heart and soul, and thus frees your emotional energy for writing?  Or do you want a job that is in writing or a related field?  Obviously, I chose the latter and I like it because the more I write, the better I get.  All of the various kinds of writing that I do–ghostwriting, copywriting, blogging, fiction, critiquing–enhance each other.

2.  If you do choose the full-time writing life, be willing to do anything (well, within reason).  Like most free-lancers, I wear many hats, and I like some of these hats lots better than others.  But that doesn't mean I turn down the things that aren't as much fun.  For me, its all writing, and I still get a thrill from even the dullest of jobs.  I had no idea that ghostwriting could be such a fun and lucrative gig, until I did my first assignment, which I got nearly by accident.  So keep your mind and your options open.

3.  Be willing to take low-paying jobs at first.  You need experience.  You need clips.  Work for free or a pittance if you have to at first.  I got paid a miserable wage in my first years as a writer, but I was able to up my fees quickly once I mastered the various genres and had the clips to prove it.

4.  Broaden your physical horizons.  We're a global community now.  Many of my ghostwriting clients are in LA, and my students in Nashville.  Doesn't matter–we've got this thing called the internet that allows us to communicate instantly.  Don't reject jobs because they are in other locations.  Besides, one of the best parts of my job is the fact that I get to travel to places I love.

I'm sure I've got more advice in me, but the workers who are doing God only knows what at the house around the corner are so noisy they've got my brain scrambled.  So, since I don't have to report to anybody but myself (did I mention that as a huge benefit?)  I'm taking my freedom and heading to New Seasons.

PS.  Read more about the Loft orientation at Linda's blog, right here.

3

Looking Back, and More Important, Looking Forward

It is New Year's Eve, 2008, the cusp of a new year.

I'm a wildly optimistic person and every year I proclaim that the next year is going to be the best yet.  And, nearly everyone of them turns out to be best in some arena.  It may be very difficult for some people to come up with good things to say about 2008, given the upheavals we've experienced.  Once again turning on my Pollyanna persona, I believe these are necessary shifts we've had to go through–and that 2009 will be better.  I'm excited about our president-elect, for one thing.  And I'm excited about the opportunities for writing in 2009.

Although the publishing industry is in turmoil, it is going to be a good year for writers. Not only will many of us find more time to write because of fewer business obligations, but in general a depressed economy forces us to stay home more–and what better thing to do at home then write?  Along those lines, I have plans in the works to assist you in your writing endeavors next year.

But first, before we get to what's in store for 2009, I present my year in review, along with a list of favorite posts.

Good Things About 2008

1.  My ghostwriting career took off.  I've been privileged to write several books for wonderful clients. This allows me to enter a different world and become the person I'm writing the book for.  Gives me a small taste of what being an actor must feel like.  

2.  After teaching in the program for five years, I became co-director of the wonderful writing program, The Writer's Loft.  Anybody interested in improving their writing skills should take a look at the program.  It is based in Tennessee, but since its a distant-learning program you can live anywhere and take advantage of one-on-one focused mentoring.

3.  I started Bookstrumpet, which is floundering at the moment but had a glorious beginning with many wonderful reviews from various people.  I'm pondering this blog's future at the moment.  One possibility is to incorporate all the material into Wordstrumpet.  Ideas?

4.  Word Strumpet became available on Kindle and at this writing it is currently #12 on the bestseller list in Lifestyle and Culture.  Thanks to all my Kindle subscribers!

5.  I began a newsletter, The Creative Equation, and got some subscribers.  Thanks, guys!  For those of you who don't yet subscribe, you can do so on the front page of Wordstrumpet.  I send it out irregularly and don't harass you with tons of emails about stuff to buy.  But it is the best way to keep up with news about product releases and my plans.  (See below)

6.  I started running and found many commonalities between the practice of running and the practice of writing.  See below for some of my posts about it.

7. I made two wonderful new friends, Rachel, and Mayanna, both of whom I adore.  And I kept up with my old friends in Nashville, too numerous to list here, and LA, and my bestest friend, Suzanne.  I share a love of writing with all of them.  Rachel and Mayanna both started blogs this year and Suzanne really got going on hers.

What I Resolve to Do Better

1. Respond to comments more consistently.   I love, love, love it when you guys comment yet I don't always manage to comment back.  No excuses.  I'll do better.

2.  Be as helpful with your writing as possible.  I want to do more posts on craft and motivation, as these are what the respondents to my survey said they really appreciated.  I also want to do more posts featuring exercises you can use in your work immediately.

3.  Send the above-mentioned newsletter out more regularly.

4.  Fully embrace the possibilities of blogging and allow Wordstrumpet to be all that it can be. 

Favorite Posts of 2008 (Mine and Yours) 

1.  The series on words.  Part one is here, part two here, and part three here.  This seemed to be a crowd-pleaser, and I loved reading the comments about how you find strong verbs and other good words.  We writers are a word-loving bunch!

2.  The series on scene.  Series seemed to be big this year, and since scene is often a point of confusion for writers, this one went over well.  Part one is here, on flat scenes is here, part two on elements of a scene here, and part three on rising and falling action here.

3.  When One is Born a Writer.  This one got so many great responses I did When One is Born a Writer Redux.

4. My posts about running.  Read them here and here.  At the moment, I'm sidelined with a knee injury, but I can't wait to get back to it.

5. The Filtering Consciousness.  An arcane but important aspect of craft.

6.  A Day in the Life.  I'm trying to get better about not devoting quite so much time to writing.

7.  Birdsong.  I thought this was just a little throw-away, but people loved it.  I did too.

8.  The  Character Who Wasn't Dead. Sometimes we writers are kinda dense.

9.  A two-part series on erotic romance.  Part one, on writing it, is here.  And part two, on publishing it, here.

10.  Finally, I resisted this one, because it is multi-parts, and creating all these links is a lot of work.  Plus its almost time for me to get ready to go out.  But I did a whole series on The Writing Bogs that I've since turned into an Ebook called Set the Words Free.  So, here are the links:  part one, part two, part three and part four.  Phew!  I could swear there was another one, but I can't seem to find it.

Looking Ahead to 2009

For the record, my biggest non-blog-related goal is to get a contract for my novel.  Go, Emma Jean!  I know a lot of you are also looking for agents, writing query letters, submitting like crazy.  So let's all communicate and support each other through the process.

Besides the above-mentioned goals, I want to give you a heads-up on what I'm planning, project-wise. My biggest goal is to get my pet project off the ground–the Charlotte Rains Dixon Novel Writing Academy.  Is that not a fabulous and grandiose name?  I adore it.  And its going to be wonderful, a membership site full of lengthy and informative articles, forms, and exercises.  Plus regular teleclasses, videos and all kinds of goodies.  

Realistically, it is also going to take a few months to get off the ground.  So in the meantime I hope to offer a product or two.  Stay tuned–and thanks for hanging around as long as you have.

Happy New Year to all!

3

The Dream World

"Imagination is sacred and divine–I trust it implicitly."

So said Andre Dubus III at his Wordstock reading last weekend.  Dubus, best known for House of Sand and Fog, read from his latest novel, The Garden of Last Days, which was inspired by the Florida sojourns of the 9-11 hijackers.  After he read from the book, Dubus talked about writing the book.  He quoted Flannery O'Connor, who said, "writing is waiting," to make the point that even when you are staring at the computer monitor, you are writing.  And then he ripped off this line: "You are summoning, almost like a prayer to an angel, the imagination to give you something."

After hearing that line, I was ready to go buy every book the man ever wrote.  He went on the say that if you summon the imagination regularly it will reward you with things to write about.  Someone in the audience asked him how difficult it was to get inside the head of one of the September 11 hijackers, and he told how he resisted and resisted it, that he had no interest in making one of them a viewpoint character.  But then the novel seemed to sputter and fall flat and he was in danger of losing it completely.  He realized that he had to make one of the hijackers a viewpoint character, so he sat and did nothing but read books about the Middle East for five months.

Dubus quoted Mike Nichols, saying that the charge of the storyteller is to share what it is really like to be in the midst of whatever is happening.  In character-driven fiction, you want to establish empathy for the characters, not sympathy.  As a writer, you do this to the point that there is no other.  What you do in writing is to go beyond knowledge of the other to totally be the other.

Interestingly, this is true in fiction, as well as in many other arenas of writing. When you write a press release, there's a certain tone and style that you emulate.  In a much more superficial way, you're becoming the other–the PR pro who knows what will grab attention.  A blog post sounds different than a web page and an article in a newspaper is dissimilar in tone to a piece in the New Yorker.   In each instance the trick for the writer is to figure out the trops and do them.  Be the other.

I was discussing this with Mary-Suzanne yesterday in terms of ghostwriting.  How does a writer get out of their own skin and into the skin of the person who is supposedly writing the book?  Here are some tips (which are applicable to every kind of writing imaginable):

1.  Get Over Yourself.  Clear the gunk out.  Do it however you like, but I think the best way is to write a bunch of crap down on paper.  Set a timer and write out all the petty judgments and grievances and even all the things that are making you happy.  (You may get some ideas along the way, though that is not the point of this.  As an added benefit, you may also improve your mental health along the way.

2.  Enter the Dream World.  Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, center yourself, do whatever it takes to get yourself calm and zen and relaxed.  Listen to music if you need to. 

3.  Start to Observe.  Pull an image of the person you are melding with into your brain.  What do they look like, smell like, sound like, feel like?   Be aware that in making these observations you are still on the outside looking in.

4.  Become the Other.  Now, go a step farther and sink deeper into the character.  Instead of observing the character, imagine yourself actually going into her head.  What does the world look like from inside her viewpoint?  Where is she sitting?  What is the view outside her window?  What does she do when she first gets up in the morning?

5.  Trust Your Imagination.  Remember, as Dubus says, it is sacred and divine.    All you are really doing in this exercise is imagining life through another person's eyes.   And, honestly, what could be more important than bridging the gaps between us?

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Technology , Spirituality and Creativity

This is a funny confession, but technology inspires me both creatively, and spiritually. 

I used to live in a tiny bubble that was comprised of my immediate neighborhood, my city, occasional forays to other cities.  Now, thanks to technology, I’m connected to a vast web of people, through my blog, email, and social networking.  I’ve got ghostwriting clients in LA, students in Nashville, and friends all over the world.  People say technology is the death of intimacy, but I say the opposite.

There’s no escaping it–we’re all connected. Quantum physicists tell us that everything we do impacts even the tiniest atoms of matter.  Technology proves this to me, over and over again, every day.  Because I have physical evidence of our interconnections through technology, it is much, much easier for me to believe it in a spiritual manner.

As above, so below, the ancients say.  As technology, so spirituality. 


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