Kennedy: How to write a breakup text; pay for help

Staff Photo by Mark Kennedy / Emily Asciolla Thomas, 25, is shown Friday. Thomas has a business called "The Write Stuff."
Staff Photo by Mark Kennedy / Emily Asciolla Thomas, 25, is shown Friday. Thomas has a business called "The Write Stuff."

When Emily Asciolla Thomas was 10 years old, she complained to her mother that all of her friends seemed gifted — in sports or dance, for example — yet she hadn't found her own niche.

"A very vivid memory is crying to my mom, (saying): 'I don't have any talents. What am I going to do with my life?'" Thomas, who is now 25 years old, said in an interview.

Words, her mom said. Words are your gift.

"That's a whack gift," Thomas remembers thinking. "So, I'm going to write papers instead of being good at dancing and swimming and stuff. No way."

It has taken about 15 years, but Thomas says she now understands what her mother was trying to say.

Thomas is indeed gifted with words. Actually, she is a gifted thinker who can take words and wrap them in emotional intelligence. Like a lot of people seeking the perfect side hustle, Thomas — a former construction company worker and law office runner — has taken to the internet to offer her skills to people who struggle to write texts, emails and letters that land with intelligence and clarity.

Her business is called "The Write Stuff," and she is essentially a ghostwriter for hire. No job is too small. Thomas has helped customers write notes to college professors, entreaties to landlords, confessions to significant others, even texts so packed with emotions that they might paralyse others' thumbs.

(READ MORE: Kennedy: 7 habits of successful college students.)

Most of her paid transactions come through word of mouth or connections she makes on Fiverr, a digital marketplace for freelancers. She charges from $20 to $60 for routine writing jobs based on length and complexity.

"I call it ghostwriting for the everyday man," said Thomas, who has a college degree in English rhetoric and professional writing.

Lots of people get twisted up on what, for Thomas, are simple writing tasks. Maybe they lack confidence or are flush with emotions. She steps in like a smart, reliable friend and creates calm sentences that inform without insulting and solve problems without shouting.

"What I've learned is that most people in the general public don't feel confident about their writing," Thomas said.

(READ MORE: Give your college student the gift of confidence.)

It all started a couple of years ago when Thomas' then-boyfriend (now husband), David, asked for her help writing a note to one of his college professors.

"He had a missed class, and he was nervous to explain to this teacher why he missed — and he was agonizing over it all day. In 10 minutes, I had it written out," Thomas recalled.

At first, Thomas thought her boyfriend's suggestion she turn her skills into a paycheck were misguided. But then she started sharing her writing skills with friends and learned she had a talent that was in high demand.

Soon, she was helping a friend write a note to her landlord who was withholding a security deposit. The note worked like magic, and the friend got her money back.

Another person even used her services to gently rebuke a love interest, who wasn't taking his hints.

"He wanted to do it in a way that was kind and appreciative of the time they'd had," Thomas said. 'To let her down easy.'"

Thomas did a radio interview recently and then received a call from a business that wanted her to write a letter the business could use to outline its services and expectations to customers.

She's done jobs as simple as someone needing help crafting a text to turn down a baby shower invitation. You'd be surprised what some people get stuck on, she said.

Then, there are jobs involving people who have more complicated emotions at play. She said she helped one person write a letter designed to sever relations with a family member. It was all about boundaries, she said.

Interestingly, sometimes it takes a ghostwriter to solve the problem of ghosting, she said. Confronted with conflict, some people these days just disengage and disappear, she said.

"People have a fight-or-flight instinct" she said. "They just address (a problem) head-on or avoid it. A lot of people are avoidant, and so they need somebody to bridge that gap for them."

In many cases, Thomas can be that bridge over troubled waters. And there are few jobs that offer that level of satisfaction.

Is micro-ghostwriting lucrative? Not particularly. But that's really beside the point.

"Whenever you are able to do something that is authentic to your soul — no matter how much money you make, or how much time it takes you — it feels purposeful and makes you feel complete," Thomas said.

Emily Asciolla Thomas can be reached at

Life Stories publishes on Mondays. Mark Kennedy can be reached at or 423-757-6645.

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