Write drunk, edit sober:” it’s the best writing advice that Papa ever served.
And it’s one of the hardest truths for aspiring nonfiction authors to accept.
In their rush to find a ghostwriter, busy executives and experts often assume that the writing equates to brainstorming. “I’ll just do a brain dump and hire a writer to clean it up,” they think…and sometimes actually say.
But that assumption is grounded in the notion that it’s the writing that’s really hard, and that editing – known in the vernacular as ‘cleaning it up’ — is relatively easy..and therefore, delegate-able.
Not so. In fact, it’s actually the opposite. Every first draft is terrible, but at least it’s words on the screen. You can’t edit a blank page.
And there’s an adrenaline rush to writing, once you get your groove: Click, click, clickety- click: it’s just you, your foaming waterfall of Important Things to Say, and a lot of caffeine. Look at All. Those. Words!
Then you sober up and read your brain dump. And it’s just about as appetizing as a real dump, with the hopeful exception of flies. Clearly, you can do better because unclearly is how you communicated.
The harsh dawn light reveals the painful truth: you may have a lot of words…but many of them are not the right words. Or they’re the right words in the wrong place. Or the right words are too far apart…yikes.
At this point, “cleaning it up” looks daunting. Because it is.
Writing and editing are two distinct processes that demand different skills, types of attention, and collaboration.
An experienced ghostwriter knows this. And an experienced ghostwriter knows that this is news to most clients.
Here’s the thing about ‘brain dumps’: like real dumps, they should be contained to a designated place. Where? That’s one of the things you figure out with your collaborating writer. You might want to create categories of brain dumps so you start at least with a semblance of organization. I usually recommend directing the urge to dump at the outline.
Writing a book requires energy, creativity and discipline at each stage: design, research, draft, edit, and production. To ‘think like Hemingway,” think like a city planner and create ‘brain dump zones’ so your creative mess is in the right place at the right time and can be mined for actual writing. Not to mention editing.
Want to get down to business about hiring an experienced ghostwriter for the book you envision? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a 20 minute exploration of the book you envision.