As a ghost writer, I get very little public credit.
My name might show up in a book's acknowledgements or a client may reveal that they "get a little help" with their blog. Other than that, I live in the shadows, zipping out writing for industries as varied as interior design, life coaching, and massage therapy.
As a ghost writer, you can't have a big ego. You can't point to your hundreds of blog posts (I lost count after 500), newsletters, eBooks, and website copy and scream at the world, "Hey everybody! Look! That's mine!"
It just doesn't work that way. If it did, you would just be a plain ol' writer, sans the ghost.
So, how does a ghost writer deal with so much misplaced credit?
You learn to be happy about it. Seriously.
When I see a post that I wrote accumulating likes on Facebook, I rejoice!
When I see someone write a nice comment about an article I authored, I say thank you to the screen and carry on.
When I see my name in the acknowledgements section of a novel or nonfiction work, I get a little tingle of pride. Yes, someone else's name is on the cover, but the two of us (at the very least) know who really put pen to paper and made ideas come to life.
Does it bother me sometimes, not receiving credit?
Of course. I'm not a superhuman Mary Poppins.
But in those moments I remind myself of the monumental good I am doing. I am helping other people--and their businesses--succeed. I am bringing ideas to life. I am giving people a voice who are not comfortable expressing themselves through words.
Even though I operate in the shadows, I've learned to enjoy the darkness. The limelight can be saved for others (and for my fiction writing persona, Kate Bitters!).
As a Millennial, I grew up accustomed to recognition--ribbons, participation awards, pats on the back. Many of you reading this have experienced the same. Managers are instructed to recognize their employees to give them a little ego boost. All members of the high school band are listed on the program. And that's a good thing, of course, but it simply doesn't happen in all aspects of life and in all career paths.
You probably won't be praised for driving safely or not stealing candy bars, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do those things! The things we do out of the pure knowledge that we should do them are some of our most important actions.
That's not to say I do ghost writing solely out of the goodness of my heart.
I'm no dummy. I get paid for the services I provide.
However, if I were only in it for the fame and accolades, I wouldn't last long in this business. It's about building up others and being a part of their success.
Ghost writers are just another type of support system, enabling others to reach their goals. Admin assistants do it. The HR department does it. The finance crew that works tirelessly to make sure everyone gets paid correctly does it. The construction workers, custodians, and IT support staff do it.
Ghost writers are part of a tradition of helping others. And the greatest thing of all is this: We can help dozens of people achieve stardom or grow their business. Why put all your eggs in one basket when you can help an upholstery company on Tuesday and a professional speaker on Wednesday?
That's the beauty of the profession. We don't have to commit to one superhero identity. When you dwell behind the scenes, you can be Dare Devil one day and Batman the next. And if you do your job well, no one will suspect that these personas are actually voiced by the same person.
But someone knows.
The Shadow knows.
Top Three Takeaways:
If you have an attitude like a ghost writer, you...
- Keep your ego in check
- Celebrate others' successes
- Recognize that quality work isn't always awarded a trophy.