How to Edit the Disturbing Subjects

How to Edit the Disturbing Subjects

lone person curled against a green wall When you edit works that make you emotional, it can get hard to cope. Today on the blog, I look at some of the self-care you need to do get through the rough work. This is the first of my weekly How To columns that deals with the human side of the “how to.” I hope you’ll leave your own suggestions for how to cope.

In discussing this with colleagues, I found it eye opening to see how each of us is touched by different subjects. We each have our own triggers, and sometimes things one person would see as dispassionate objective facts reminds another person of some trauma or makes them imagine a possible trauma, and they just can’t handle the work. In mental health circles, this is called vicarious trauma, and the editor may be more susceptible to it than the average reader simply because they delve so deeply into the manuscript for so long.

I mean, if we can mourn the end of a book because we know we won’t see beloved characters again, imagine how intensely we might feel their trauma. I still haven’t resumed watching House of Cards since they killed off my favourite character. I’m still tantruming.

Me, I decided that I just don’t have the social resources to take on work I find truly disturbing. You might feel that way too. Sometimes there is just not enough chocolate in the world.

Link to my How To column on

Another resource from Poynter.

Photo by Sara Bjork used under CC BY-2.0 license.

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