How to Use Transcription for Ghostwriting
The gig economy is booming, according to Gallup’s most recent (2018) Perspective. This report shows 57 million Americans earn a living by working independently. Many gig workers are ghostwriters, hired to write works accredited to other people. From celebrity memoirs to journalistic articles, ghostwriters are the hidden experts behind many of the items we read.
Using Transcription in Ghostwriting
Ghostwriting is a lucrative career, if you have the right clients. You also need to charge good rates and use a suitable method to get the work done. When you have a lot of writing to crank out, sitting through a recording of your meeting with a client can be time-consuming and unprofitable.
You might need to start, stop and rewind many times to capture all the nuances of the conversation. Using a transcription service can make all the difference, enable you to write faster, and cut out a lot of the hard slog for you. These tips will show you how to use transcription to enhance your ghostwriting and boost your productivity.
Why Transcription Quality Counts
Remember the old game of broken telephone, where a message travels from person to person by whispering? When it reaches the end of the line, the last person reports what they think was originally said. The game never fails to highlight how easily information and meaning can change.
For ghostwriters, it’s vital to avoid changes in meaning by making sure the transcription you use is a faithful reproduction of the conversation. That means it captures every word spoken, as well as using accurate punctuation and grammar to convey the meaning. This rules out many of the automated transcription programs available. While these programs can transcribe the words that were used, they often miss out on capturing the context.
Finding the Backbone of a Piece
Start by reading through the transcription to get the general ‘feel’ of the piece. Use a marking pen and paper or an online highlighting option to identify the main message. Highlight key issues to use for the backbone of the piece, and pick out witty or well-spoken phrases that capture the speaker’s voice.
If you were present during the discussion, you may already have an idea of how you want to approach it. Often, ghostwriters receive recordings without having heard the original conversation. Read through the transcription at the same time as you listen to the recording. You will find this particularly useful if it’s the first time you’re reviewing the materials.
Creating a Draft
Developing an outline before you start is a practical way to plan your ghostwriting work. It helps to make sure you don’t overlook anything important. Create a framework with subheadings or sections based on the key points you identified from the transcription. Add a draft introduction and conclusion, and check that the sections flow smoothly into each other from start to finish.
Most conversations jump around to an extent, so when you flesh out the sections go through the transcription again with each of the key issues in mind. Someone who uses a ghostwriter is probably busy doing exciting things. Their minds are crammed with original thoughts that might spill over into the interview or conversation. It’s your job to organize their thoughts in a logical, effective way, and using a transcription can help you to view all the pieces at a glance.
Using the Subject’s Voice
As a ghostwriter, you’re creating copy on your subject’s or client’s behalf, so you need to be sure to use their voice. You know the piece is going to be published under the client’s byline, so if they bring up a point during an interview that means it’s important to them. Don’t leave it out, even if it’s an awkward fit. Use the transcription to identify other facts that it belongs with, and then work it into your draft.
Start your article by snagging an anecdote the subject came up with mid-interview and use it as an opener. Look carefully through the transcription for a solid closing thought, and turn that into the conclusion. Scan the transcription for supporting information and evidence for each section as you’re working on it. Check it off or strike through the text as soon as you’ve used the point to make sure you don’t duplicate it.
Refining the Content
Once you have written the complete draft, review the transcription again. This gives you the chance to make sure you haven’t left anything out. Go through the entire document to check that you have incorporated every key point into your draft. Review the content, your grammar and spelling, and confirm it includes all the important points from the transcription.
At this stage, you might find yourself making edits such as moving whole sections around. This is a perfectly acceptable part of crafting a high-quality document. Having a transcription handy will help you to make sure your edits don’t change the tone or context of the piece but refine it to be a true reflection of the recording.
Taking Time Out
You know the expression about not being able to see the wood for the trees? That’s a classic example of what happens when ghostwriters are too quick to send off their work. After you finish writing, it’s important to step away from the work for a time to reorient yourself. Many professional writers wait for 24 hours or more before going back to their piece, to ensure they review it from a fresh angle.
Using transcriptions as one of your content creation tools can help ghostwriters to generate a quick first draft of a post or article that you can “clean up” later. This reduces the amount of time you spend listening and re-listening, taking notes, and hunting through recordings to find the facts you know are there.