“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it. “ — The Matrix (1999)
Running on the tread tonight and wired into The Matrix while drifting through miles had me coming across this quote again. It got me thinking about the writing process and helping others write — what I often end up doing — sometimes for free, mostly for money, but always for the need it fulfills for me. Just because I’m a writer doesn’t mean I always have the right thing to say for myself; if anything, I find it easier coming up with words for someone else. Success for a ghostwriter no doubt and maybe even success for the person I’m writing for.
While it all sounds well, fine, and dandy, it’s often not. Getting to that point of help does not come easy, especially when the person you are dealing with is not comfortable writing. Even worse is when they feel anxiety about putting it on a page as though we were chiseling it out of stone rather than having the luxury of a delete button or edit function. Yet, it happens. I sense the fear in clients on a near daily basis. They are not sure if the voice will be right, and they want to see it in print perfect the first go. Ain’t going to be so I have to figure out a way to break it to them without including a padded cell in the deal.
Here are some tips on freeing your mind when writing and getting over the what-if’s (insider info here as this is what I use minute by minute to keep the writing machine full steam ahead not to mention it can put the self-doubt on mute):
- Don’t bring order and logic to something that is not helped by it. That’s for later when the ideas are actually on page. Trying to order thoughts and put them into tiny little boxes at first simply means you are most likely never going to get the good stuff on paper. Just type and ask questions later.
- Start with ideas whether they be made up of words or phrases. As your ghostwriter, the more I talk to you, the more likely I’ll be able to make some semblance. Or, even better, take it to the next level you hadn’t even thought about.
- Recognize that first draft is simply that; it’s a jumping off point to what will be entirely different by the time it’s through. That’s what is supposed to happen.
- We want feedback; no, we’re not trained seals that want a sardine or treat for doing our job — it’s more about giving us constructive criticism to make the work better.
- We enjoy collaboration; ideas excite us and feed our creativity.
- We aim to please. It’s not about the fame; it’s about seeing an idea come to fruition and creating a page turner.