I Used To Be A Ghostwriter. Here’s How It Shaped Me

I used to be a ghostwriter, but now I’m not. I’m still a writer, though! I learned so much from the experience that it’s worth telling you about. 

The main thing is this: if you’re considering doing ghostwriting as a career or even just as supplemental income.

It can be incredibly rewarding (especially if you love writing and want to make good money doing something fun), but there are also some drawbacks that should be taken into consideration before diving in head first.

1. Ghostwriting is a transformative experience that deeply shapes a writer’s journey and professional growth.
2. Embracing the challenges and rewards of ghostwriting can lead to profound personal and creative development.
3. Reflecting on one’s past as a ghostwriter provides valuable insights into the world of ghostwriting and its impact.
4. The journey of a ghostwriter involves navigating the hidden world of creativity and collaboration.
5. Sharing personal experiences as a ghostwriter can inspire and educate others aspiring to enter this unique profession.

1. Just The Name

  • The name “ghostwriter” is a misnomer.
  • Ghostwriting is not a full-time job. It can be, but it isn’t for most people. Most ghostwriters don’t make their living solely on ghostwriting; they have other income streams as well (more on this in #3).
  • Ghostwriting isn’t creative or artistic. To do the best work you can do as a ghostwriter, you have to become an expert in the field of what your client needs help with not just know everything about it yourself.
  • But learn how to communicate that knowledge clearly and effectively so that readers will understand what they’re reading better than they would if they were reading it themselves!
  • Ghostwriting is rarely freelance work: Most ghostwriters are contractors who are hired by clients directly rather than through agencies or recruiters; 
  • However, there are some agencies out there who specialize in finding clients for writers like us when we don’t know where else to start looking for them ourselves (and sometimes even when we do!).

Being a ghostwriter has profoundly shaped my journey as a writer and professional. Discover how this experience impacted me in my article on I Used to Be a Ghostwriter – Here’s How It Shaped Me.

2. I Don’t Have A Full-Time Job So I Was Constantly Writing

The second thing that I learned is that ghostwriting requires a lot of writing. Even if you’re only working on one project at a time, there’s no such thing as a slow season and your clients will always have new ideas for their books. 

And since I didn’t have any other job, the only way I could make money was by writing more than one book at a time.

This meant that most days were spent in front of my computer screen for hours at a time and not just during the day either! (Sidenote: this is why I can never watch TV in bed again.) 

The more books you write with your client, the easier it gets because you become familiar with each other’s writing styles and preferences over time; but even then, it still takes effort to get through them all.

3. My Job Doesn’t Involve Much Creativity

Third, writing is not a creative activity. The most common question I get asked by people who have never ghostwritten before is: “Do you get to play with ideas?” 

But that’s not what ghostwriters do; we’re not allowed to play with ideas. If a client comes in with an idea for a book, it’s their job, not mine to make sure the book doesn’t suck. 

They’re the ones who need to take the time to think about interesting ways of saying things (or interesting things worth saying). 

They’re the ones who need to make sure their arguments are sound and correct, that they’ve done all their research, and that they’ve got enough evidence for what they want us to say on their behalf. This isn’t my job it’s theirs.

Ever wondered about the reasons that drove me to establish my own ghostwriting website? Uncover my justifications and insights in my blog post about Why I Built a Ghostwriting Website for aspiring ghostwriters.

4. I Had A Lot Of Self-doubts

Self-doubt is a natural part of the process, but working as a ghostwriter can make you face your self-doubts in ways that aren’t always easy. 

You have to be willing to write quickly, even if you don’t agree with your client’s vision and then get them to see where you’re coming from or why they should change direction. 

You have to write in a way that pleases them, and edit yourself so they don’t notice any flaws in your writing. And all this has to happen while still keeping the spirit of what you want the article/book/etc., should be about at its core (even if it’s not explicitly stated).

If there’s any one skill that helped me through my time as a ghostwriter, it was learning how not only how to accept feedback from other people but also to go beyond what was asked for and create better work than expected. 

That willingness is something I use every day now; whether it’s writing articles like this one or working with clients on their projects!

5. The Hours Are Crazy

The hours are crazy. For whatever reason, most clients want to work with you after 5 pm and on the weekends. This means you’ll be working during school hours, which is something I did for a year before returning to college in New York City. 

(I did try to find a part-time job during the day once upon a time.) It also means you have no life at all you can’t go out on dates or hang out with friends because your schedule doesn’t allow it. And when do your friends get married? Or have children? 

Or move across the country? You’ll be missing all of those special occasions because you’ll be working those days too!

Ghostwriting, a mysterious world of creativity and collaboration! Delve into the fascinating realm of ghostwriters with my introduction in The Best Ghostwriting. Unravel the secrets behind this unique form of writing.

6. It’s Stressful

As you write, it’s important to keep in mind that having a ghostwriter is not an excuse to not write. In fact, the more you talk about your topic and the more ideas you share with your ghostwriter, the better a book they will be able to write for you.

You also need to be very clear about what your expectations are for the writing process and what their responsibilities are. 

If possible, have this discussion before hiring them and then again once they begin working on your manuscript or book proposal so there are no surprises or misunderstandings down the line when things get stressful (which they will).

7. I Rarely Got Paid In Cash, Only Checks And Debit Cards

I had to pay for my expenses, which often meant writing checks out of the checkbook that I kept in my car. You see, no one ever paid me in cash—not even my employers or clients. 

They preferred to use their debit cards instead so they could get money back at the end of each month and not have to deal with paper currency. That way they could avoid taxes on it too! 

The only time I ever got a paycheck was when I worked as an editor at a publishing house and they gave us one every two weeks along with a per diem lunch allowance (this is why you should never eat outside of your office).

I didn’t mind paying taxes in fact, it made me happy because I loved helping others out but what irked me was having to pay for everything myself while still putting food on my table and keeping a roof over my head each month. 

It felt like everyone else was taking advantage of me just because they were rich or successful enough that they didn’t need our help anymore; meanwhile, there were people like us who couldn’t afford anything without getting loans from institutions

Like payday lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates just so that we can try buying things again later on down the road when our next paycheck comes through…

Wondering why many consider ghostwriting as the best business opportunity? I’ve compiled 17 compelling reasons in my article on Why Ghostwriting is the Best Business to Be In. Explore the advantages of this rewarding profession.

8. I Was Scared To Be Alone With A Client

One of my fears about ghostwriting was that I would be alone with a client, and something bad would happen.

I was afraid of sexual harassment or physical assault. I know that sounds crazy, but there’s something about the intimacy of sitting face-to-face with someone in their home (or office) that makes me even more aware of how vulnerable we are as human beings.

These days, lots of people are talking about how “creepy” it is to work from home even though working from home can be great for your mental health! Ghostwriting isn’t quite like working from home because you don’t have to sit around in your pajamas all day; 

However, if you do it right then you will spend many hours each week meeting clients at their homes or offices so it’s worth considering the privacy implications before taking on any new projects…

9. If You Can’t Do An Assignment For Them, You’re Fired

When I was a ghostwriter, I was often given assignments that required me to research and write from scratch. It’s not uncommon for a client to ask you to write something that they have no idea how to do themselves, or even if it’s possible at all. 

You may be asked to write about a topic that so niche that even Wikipedia doesn’t know about it yet or worse: something completely fictional!

In these situations, it’s up to you as the ghostwriter (not them) to figure out how much research material is available on the subject before starting your work in earnest. 

If there aren’t very many credible sources of information available online or in the print form then perhaps this isn’t going somewhere worth treading into; 

If you feel like your hands are tied because there simply isn’t enough information out there on this topic then maybe don’t take their money just yet until more research has been done on your end?

Explore the hidden world of ghostwriting with an expert’s overview in The Secret World of Ghostwriting. Discover the challenges and rewards of shaping words behind the scenes.


I learned a lot from my experience as a ghostwriter. I’m glad that I got this opportunity to work with so many different people who were looking for help with their writing projects, but it was not the right job for me. 

The hours were too long and unpredictable, the pay wasn’t great (and sometimes didn’t come at all), and most importantly: I didn’t feel like my creativity was being fully utilized.

Further Reading

How to Become a Ghostwriter: Insights from an Experienced Ghostwriter Learn from an experienced ghostwriter about the steps and insights to embark on a successful ghostwriting career.

Want to Be a Ghostwriter? Learn from My Mistakes Gain valuable lessons from a ghostwriter’s personal experiences and avoid common pitfalls in the ghostwriting journey.

How to Be a Ghostwriter: Tips from Writers Digest Discover practical tips and advice from Writers Digest on how to kickstart your ghostwriting career.


How can I become a ghostwriter?

Becoming a ghostwriter requires honing your writing skills, building a portfolio, and networking within the writing community. Seek mentorship and opportunities to collaborate with established writers to gain experience.

What are the key responsibilities of a ghostwriter?

A ghostwriter is responsible for creating written content on behalf of another person or entity. They should effectively capture the client’s voice, maintain confidentiality, and deliver high-quality work within the agreed-upon deadline.

How much can I earn as a ghostwriter?

Earnings as a ghostwriter can vary based on factors such as your experience, the complexity of the projects, and the client’s budget. Rates may range from per-word fees to flat project rates or even royalties for book projects.

How can I find ghostwriting clients?

Networking within the writing and publishing industry is crucial. Attend writing conferences, join online writing communities, and utilize platforms that connect writers with potential clients. Building a strong online presence and showcasing your portfolio can also attract clients.

How do I handle authorship and credit as a ghostwriter?

As a ghostwriter, you should be prepared to relinquish any claim to authorship or credit for the work you create. Clear communication and a ghostwriting contract detailing the terms of the engagement can help avoid misunderstandings.