A former client stated that I injected emotion into a business transaction, which wasn’t either smart or professional. He’s right, I did have my emotions invested. That happens when one’s a “method writer.”

You’ve heard of method actors, right? Dustin Hoffman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert DeNiro, Nicholas Cage, and Jim Carrey are method actors. According to Dictionary.com, method acting is “a technique of acting in which an actor aspires to complete emotional identification with a part.” When I ghostwrite stories for other people, I internalize the characters in order to bring them to life on the page. Their voices become my voice when writing. I hear them and feel them in my mind. I imagine being possessed might feel like that.

Now tell me how that doesn’t play into one’s emotions. No wonder writers have a reputation for mental instability.

Method writing means living with the characters and stories one writes about because they occupy one’s mind. That extends into the interaction between ghostwriter and client, because–even though I can’t read minds–I have to attempt to channel the author’s intentions, thoughts, and attitudes. It’s a deeply personal and intimate relationship that takes its toll on the writer’s mind and emotions when the project does not go well. When it does go well, it’s wonderful and validating.

If you want a ghostwriter who invests her heart and mind into a client’s project, then I’m your gal.

Of course, not all the emotional investment and trauma comes from writing. Sometimes it comes from a mismatch between ghostwriter and client. I recently ended a project that suffered from just such a mismatch. It was ugly.

I am lucky to have signed on another client and hope that this ghostwriting project goes well, that the relationship remains amicable. I have to allow hope to spring eternal, or I’ll retreat even further into introversion and avoid people even more than I do now. (When the younger son came home to visit, he spent a good portion of the time hiding in his old bedroom. “He’s even more antisocial than I,” I remarked to a friend. “Not possible,” she replied.)

The fast slide into depression beckons. I can see it. I can feel it. I need to protect myself from it and rise above it to some semblance of emotional and mental equilibrium.

I wonder how method actors cope.