The Introverted Editor

“I have realized; it is during the times I am far outside my element that I experience myself the most. That I see and feel who I really am, the most!”– C. JoyBell C.

Editors are an intriguing part of the publishing world: a huge chunk of the publishing house’s responsibilities rests on their shoulders, yet they have to be chipper, considerate and kind in their correspondences. An editor is a jack-of-all-trades that the publisher requires (Braman 2013). An editor, apart from their work, almost always has to play the part of a confidant, therapist and a friend.

As if being an editor was not complicated enough, let me add (yet another) twist to the scenario. What happens when an editor is an introvert?

In her book Quiet Power, Susan Cain talks about standing out quietly. (Cain 2017) (I am quoting a book by an introvert, for an introvert and which talks about introverts at length and in great detail!) For an introvert taking on an extrovert’s job, challenging is an understatement. There are so many more people to greet, make small talk with and smile at! These tasks come naturally to an extrovert, but for an introvert, this is the most daunting part. Cain talks about pushing your boundaries and expanding your comfort zone thus acclimating to adjust to an extrovert’s job.

Introverted editors’ most significant quality is that they are great listeners. They will listen to the author, they will listen to the publisher, they will listen to everyone who speaks. When the editor will have alone time to process all that they heard, they will thoughtfully channel the flurry of communication into a kind, insightful letter to the author.

However, I find that it takes a flexible introvert to get an extrovert’s position and do an excellent job with it. Being out there comes neither naturally nor willingly, to an introvert. When they know they love what they do, that is when an introvert will willingly exit their comfort zone.

An interesting example I found in Cain’s book, was of Professor Brain Little. Professor Little treats his lectures as performances, that end in standing ovations and too many students signing up. However, after his classes, Professor Little drives home where he lives with just his wife; his house is surrounded by two acres of remote Canadian woods, visited occasionally by his children and grandchildren, but otherwise keeping to himself. (Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking 2012) This is a classic example of a passionate introvert in an extrovert’s job.

An interesting example I found in Cain’s book, was of Professor Brain Little. Professor Little treats his lectures as performances, that end in standing ovations and too many students signing up for the next one. However, after his classes, Professor Little drives home where he lives with just his wife; two acres of remote Canadian woods surround his house visited occasionally by his children and grandchildren, but otherwise keeping to himself. (Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking 2012) This is a classic example of a passionate introvert in an extrovert’s job.

Often, we see an introverted editor succumbing to the relative comfort of freelancing. As a freelance editor, the job is all about promoting yourself as a brand and developing your preferred clients. (Spoelhof 2018)  There are fewer social barriers:

  • One does not have to dress up and show up every day
  • Dealing with people daily is not a concern anymore
  • There is more quiet time, also known as the most productive time for an introvert
  • There are no distractions in the form of co-workers, meetings, lunch breaks, etc.
  • Networking is essential to the nature of the job however it does not need to be done every single day

My argument is that even though it is relatively easier to work from the comfort of an introvert’s own space, it is not the best practice to advance as an editor.

A psychological term known as “self-monitoring” is when people monitor their behaviour and change it to fit the environment. A research conducted by Lippa proves that if the opportunity calls for an introvert to behave like an extrovert, then they will. Thus, it appears that in the domain of extraversion cues, expressive control (as assessed by self-monitoring) does moderate the consistency between expressive behavior and personality. (Lippa 1978) The highest self-monitors not only tend to be good at producing the desired effect and emotion in a given social situation— but they also experience less stress while doing so. (Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking 2012) With the help of self-monitoring, the deepest introverts can pretend to be extroverts and get away with it! I think, as in introvert, it is highly rewarding to adopt this practice:

  • One can hold up good small talk with co-workers, bosses, authors and even potential clients
  • The social noise does not come crashing down when you are roleplaying as an extrovert
  • An introvert feels more confident when they have planned out their social activities, therefore reducing the overall stress of an otherwise improvised social situation
  • As an editor climbs the corporate ladder, leadership feels natural when they have been practicing to be an extrovert
  • Work intrusions (like interacting with co-workers while working) can become less annoying

Challenges such as self-monitoring are ginormous and intimidating, but it can help change the life of an introverted individual. With working in-house, the editor gets to go home, enjoy their alone time, recharge their batteries and come to work the next day feeling grand!

 

Works Cited

  • 2015. Four Reasons to Work as an In-House Editor. November. https://www.copyediting.com/four-reasons-to-work-as-an-in-house-editor/#.W-oZk3pKiu4.
  • Braman, Marjorie. 2013. What Ever Happened to Book Editors? https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/columns-and-blogs/soapbox/article/59168-the-new-paradigm.html.
  • Cain, Susan. 2017. Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts.
  • —. 2012. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
  • Council of Science Editors. 2004. The Question of Editing Inhouse or Outsourcing. Council of Science Editors.
  • Lippa, Richard. 1978. “Expressive control, expressive consistency, and the correspondence between expressive behavior and personality.” Journal of Personality 438-461.
  • Spoelhof, Thomas. 2018. Is freelance editorial work right for you? . https://ooligan.pdx.edu/freelance-editorial-work/.

 

 

 

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