The Brevity Magazine’s Nonfiction Blog today published a piece I wrote about vicarious trauma and how it affects me and other writers. I believe it’s something writers need to discuss openly: that way we can share concrete helpful advice to help all of us.
“When I was collecting stories, people opened up to me. They talked to me as if I was a therapist rather than a writer and I had no idea how to handle it. This type of secondary trauma is associated with war correspondents, social workers, or medical and rescue personnel, not creative nonfiction writers like me. But the more we as writers delve into the lives of others, the more susceptible we become to taking on their trauma, simply by listening.”
CONTENT WARNING: The article is intended to help writers doing research on traumatic subjects and contains brief graphic descriptions of violence and mentions rape, suicide, eating disorders, racism, homelessness, and mental illness.
Click here for the entire piece on Brevity.
I would like to thank Leah Kaminsky for her generosity. Despite work as a GP and a writer Kaminsky made the time to talk with me and share her wisdom. If you are a writer and have a story to share about vicarious trauma or if you’d like to share any thoughts on belonging, please do email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!