There you are, flying around all glorious and free, flapping your obscenely painted, oversized wings, sweating glitter and promise, then BAM! It’s all over. That Chevy Citation ends you in truly epic fashion. This is how I feel every time I do agency work.
Why? Well, those kinds of jobs tend to practice “edit by committee,” where you’re not edited by one person representing the client, but half a dozen. So you get things back that are commented all over, have requested changes from different people on the same item that are literally contradictory and there’s no one to go back to in order to ask specifics. It’s enough to kill you a little bit inside. Or at least smear you on a windshield.
But, as a pro, you can’t let that ish get you down. At bare minimum, you have to pretend you can walk it off so you can function and write the other six things that are due that day.
Rub Some Dirt In It: Tips for Surviving a Brutal Edit
Now, some writers will advocate for drinking heavily and taking lots of interesting drugs in order to get past these kinds of things, but since I’m not that fucking person, I’m going to give you some real advice for functioning workaholics. Edits aren’t the end of the world, even truly epic ones, but damn, they feel like it might be around the bend. Rub some dirt in that shit with these tips:
1. Repeat “It’s not me, it’s them.” Sometimes, people have the idea that editing a document means having to make lots of comments. We know better. Often, a good edit is just taking out Oxford commas or breaking up run-on sentences. Clearly the corporate clients of your agency don’t really understand the process, so they’re bumbling along blindly the best they can.
2. Remind yourself that the only joy in corporate life is belittling others. Working in a corporate setting, I’ve read, is sort of like sitting in a pressure cooker. The people below you are always trying to undermine you in order to get your job and the people above you won’t retire, so you can’t move forward on your career trajectory. You have little control over your own life. The one thing you can do is make a writer cry, so you stick with your strengths.
3. Go for a walk on the beach with your laptop. We writers have all been promised that we’d be able to go work on a beach somewhere, and it’s high time we did! With the sound of the surf hitting the sand and the gentle “woosh-woosh” of the waves out at sea, it’s hard to be too intimidated by edits that have gone horribly wrong. Watch out for those seagulls, though…
4. Take a kickboxing class. Even if you haven’t yet reached “writing on the beach” level, you can still take those frustrations out on an innocent punching bag or trainer. Take a kickboxing class and beat those edits out. Imagine you’re punching the client over and over again (just the logo, not, you know, the person who did the edits). Beat the fuck out of Coca-Cola, show Johnson & Johnson who’s boss. Pound Walmart like you know you want to.
5. Check your bank balance. Last, but not least, some universal advice for all sorts of writers. When edits get you down, log into your bank account and check the balance. Unless I’ve just had a client pay, I’ve found this to be the most effective way to motivate me to grab my big girl panties and move along. Edits happen, they’re part of the process. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to accept it.
Sometimes, those edits will mindfuck you a bit. You’ll feel like the worst fraud ever and that no one likes you. While this may be true, if you’re still making money at writing, then at least you can keep the lights on and the fridge stocked. I don’t know you, you may be a tragic mess of a human.
Client work can be hard, it can be sad, it can be totally heartbreaking and doubt-inducing, but at the end of the day, it’s better than being a professional dog poo scooper.