Editors and Multipotentiality

a desk with a typewriter, camera, and other items

I first came across the term multipotentialite about a year ago on Twitter and it immediately struck a chord with me. The idea of having multiple potentials was intriguing for someone starting their own business. I saw it and thought, am I a multipotentialite?

What is a multipotentialite?

Multipotentiality, according to Wikipedia, is “an educational and psychological term referring to a pattern found among intellectually gifted individuals.” A multipotentialite has “diverse interests across numerous domains and may be capable of success in many endeavours or professions.”

Emilie Wapnick, founder of Puttylike, a website with resources and information about and for multipotentialites, digs into the terminology a bit more. She says that multipotentialites have multiple interests and creative pursuits, thrive on learning, and make excellent innovators and problem solvers. She also says boredom is a major worry of multipotentialites.

A few synonyms for multipotentialite:

  • polymath
  • Renaissance person
  • generalist
  • multi-passionate
  • multipod
  • scanner

Multipotentiality and Me

I don’t necessarily fit into every part of these definitions, but I can definitely check a few things off. I have multiple interests and creative pursuits (editing, creative writing, blogging, illustration, painting, jewelry making—to name a few). And I like to learn (I graduated from university in 2015 but have managed to take some kind of course almost every semester since. Not to mention the countless hours I spend reading). I also worry about being bored by, or I get bored doing, the same repetitive tasks for long periods of time.

Luckily, editing is a good fit for the kind of multipotentialite I am.

Editors as Multipotentialites

Here are ways my job as an editor fits into being a multipotentialite.

Continual Learning

Editing is a field of work well suited to those who like learning. To be a good editor, you need grammar and writing skills, but you also need to:

  • be a sensible and sensitive communicator
  • keep up with changing language and social norms
    • slang
    • inclusive language
    • non-“standard” usage
  • have general knowledge on the subjects and genres you’re editing

Already that’s a lot of room for continual learning. I regularly take courses and listen to webinars to keep the typical editing skills up to snuff. But I also do a fair amount of reading and research as I check manuscripts.

For example, I edited a memoir that dealt with the break-up of Yugoslavia. I was born in 1992 and my North American education didn’t cover that, so I had to look it up. Another time, I was working on a middle-grade novel and had to check the proper use of pirate terminology. Once, I even spent half an hour looking up tropical leeches to fact check a scene in a novel.

Editing allows me to explore all kinds of different topics, some of which I never would have looked into if it weren’t for the books I’ve worked on. And sometimes these topics inspire or fuel other creative projects. Or, in the case of looking up inclusive language/editing for bias, I learn how to be a more accepting and conscientious individual.

Variation

Different kinds of editing also call for different skills, which offer variety in the work day. If I’m copy editing, I’m looking at a manuscript line by line to ensure correctness and consistency. If I’m doing a developmental edit, I’m considering big-picture issues like structure or character development. And if I’m proofreading, I have to think about page layout and design.

Since I run my own business, I also have invoices to track and quotes to write. I have to market myself and my business and network to make new contacts. And then I’m also writing this blog and finding/creating supporting graphics and resources.

Creativity

Some might not think there’s a lot of creativity in ensuring a piece of writing follows the “rules” of grammar, but I’m of the opinion that editing is an extension of creativity. In many cases, it takes a creative mind to see what a writer intended and find ways to bring that meaning to the surface without obscuring or erasing the writer’s voice.

And, since I blog about editing and writing here (and offer writing as part of my business), I also get the opportunity to flex my writing muscles regularly.

I even get to put my artistic skills to use on occasion by creating images to post with blogs and social media (this is something that I want to do more of, so keep an eye out).

Conclusion

Editing might not suit every multi-passionate person, but it is a career that offers me opportunities to learn, develop different skills, and be creative.

Every day is a bit different. Even though that can have its own challenges (that’s where the problem-solving skills come in), it keeps me from getting too bored.

Of course, I’m still figuring out the best ways to be productive/efficient, but I’m not about to say no to another opportunity to learn.

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