brainstorm like a ghostwriter

One of the best parts of my job as a ghostwriter is extracting my clients’ stories and messages through interview calls. Quite often I uncover ideas they didn’t even know they had inside them. How do I do this and, more importantly, what if as an author, you could do this for yourself?

What if you could be your own ghostwriter and uncover stories, messages, insights, and other ideas that you didn’t even know you had?

3 Key Pieces of My Ghostwriting Process

The first piece is the interview calls with my clients, which can best be described as the art of open, free flowing, no holds barred, primarily unstructured conversations. Yes, in the background, I do have an agenda and goals for the calls, but I’m also very careful to let the conversation go where it flows, and somehow, the agenda seems to take care of itself.

The second piece is to ask the right questions – open ended questions, nothing where yes or no could shortchange an otherwise good idea. Also, I’m a fan of peeling back layers. For every surface idea or notion, challenging my client with – “Why is that important?” “What else is there about this?” and “What other ideas is this connected to? Current events? History? Parallels? Trends?”

The third piece is allowing space at the end of the call, for the best gems to show up. It’s funny and it happens nearly every time! After my client and I begin wrapping things up, we start looking around the mental room to see if we’ve left anything behind – like when you check out of a motel room and check the drawers and under the bed. That’s when we start finding the gems – new stories, ideas, and other potential contributions to the book-in-progress. (Sometimes even a winning title!) I’ve learned to never dismiss the “one last thing” moments. They often yield some of the best insights.

Why is this? Perhaps because by then, my client and I have been talking and exploring their book idea for some time, typically 1-2 hours. In doing so, we’ve developed all that clarity and the book idea has begun to coalesce.

How YOU Can Do It!

How can you do this for yourself? How can you be ghostwriter and client?

Create an intentional brainstorming session – specifically scheduled thinking time to unpack your book and all the ideas and stories that could potentially go in it.

Next, there’s the matter of asking yourself the right questions to help unpack all this genius. Ask yourself as many questions as possible and avoid censoring or editing the responses that come forward. Trust your gut instincts. Even if they initially don’t make sense, record or write everything down during your brainstorming session. You never know where things are going to lead, so capture everything.

For the interviewing piece, rather than asking yourself questions, you could have a friend interview you. Tell them what you’re out to accomplish and perhaps provide some initial questions to get them started. But let them take it from there. This person doesn’t need to be experienced in writing or interviewing. As a matter of fact, most people are natural-born interviewers simply because of our inherently curious nature as individuals. Remember the critical “one last thing” piece at the end of the conversation.

I hope this behind the scenes glimpse into my ghostwriting process helps you uncover fascinating stories and ideas for your future book!