There is a reason writers avoid the cliché, as well as common phrases, including slogans like “Fake it ’til you make it.” The meaning is normally so quickly and easily accepted that the reader may not think as thoroughly about it as you’d like. There is also the matter of your writing fading, unremembered, into the crowd of every other time in life that person heard similar turns of phrase. There is nothing new and fresh to make you stand out and be remembered.
Either way, it is the idea that the meaning of the cliché and every day phrase is not thoroughly examined that I intend to highlight in this post. When you think creatively about this old line of advice for just about any area of life, it is actually pretty good advice.
For my part, I always recognized its merit in giving people the confidence they need to go from becoming a student/graduate to a professional in their chosen career. However, to me, it always held a certain implied message that you really should fake it, or in other words, act more knowledgeable than you think you are. Over-confidence and I don’t really get along so well.
Last night, as I thought again of the similarities between roleplaying, acting, and writing (in particular, I love roleplaying because it combines two things I love well, one I don’t get to do so often: Acting and writing), I remembered the old advice of faking it.
It gave me a brilliantly silly and entertaining idea as an aspiring writer. One I wish to share with you. Forget the handy, easy to use slogan, and put it into fresh words. I decided I would apply my love of acting to my work as a writer by getting into character before I write. What character? Me, but me as a successful author with several books who, still modest, also knows she has readers and is most definitely not wasting her time.
Then came the sillier fun with a writing buddy in which we acted like snooty rich writer friends calling each other darling and swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck. There are three things I write well, school papers, character building, and tangents. Where was I?
In practice, I wasn’t sure how well it would work. Regardless, I gave myself a moment to get into character and the results amazed me. I found that, on a subconscious level, this new, confident character I assumed, counter-acted the novice, self-doubting me that frets about whether she’s just kidding herself rather than enjoying her scenes.
You see, while I do believe that practice is important, that doesn’t stop the emo-me from whispering. “Yeah, you can get better, but will you still be good enough. Will anyone even care posthumously about you, despite your improvements?”
This new character duct-taped the mouth of emo-me, tied her to a chair and stuffed her in a dark corner all alone. Then she tackled my work with an evil glee, proud of what she wrought.
That’s right, I was proud of what I wrote. Not because it’s perfect, but because I actually acted more like a professional while writing it. I tackled wordings I knew could be better, I trimmed it as I went, and all without letting that editor stifle me either. It cleared out all the voices of self-doubt so I could finally hear myself, uncritical and enveloped in the story.
So, if you find yourself blocked by such fears, try a bit of acting. Even if it doesn’t work, you can still have fun with it.
Now listen close, doll-face. You’re a famous writer with a brand new story, your best story yet, in progress. Got it? Aaaaaand Action!