My Newest Writing Anxiety

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I’ve written in the past about how nervous interviews make me and the mistakes I think I’ve made. While I’m still working on improving my interviewing skills I’ve discovered a somewhat new anxiety about writing nonfiction and reporting. These are related to the editing process and incorporating information and quotes from sources into the final piece.

I worry about paraphrasing people and simply how I use the quotes to support the story. I end up obsessing over how the person I interviewed will react to the story. I worry that I might misinterpret their words while paraphrasing or even when using direct quotes they’ll feel it was taken out of context. For whatever reason I feel like I need to satisfy them in addition to readers and my editor. I guess I feel like I do have a responsibility to them since I am using their words and taking up their time.

Though recently I had a big boost. After interviewing several people for an article I sent them all a link to the live story and more than one replied complementing me on the story. It felt like a huge weight lifting off my chest. Seriously, the stress has made me question if I should continue with this work. But those emails gave me the boost I needed to at least pick up one more assignment.

In the past I sent sources stories to review before submitting them, but that’s not always possible when working on a deadline. I’ve also read lots of mixed advice about whether or not this should be done. I wonder if anybody else deals with this kind of anxiety when writing nonfiction, or using sources for any kind of writing. I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have on the subject.

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