Thursday 26 February 2015

Fake It Till You Make It

American psychologist William James in his work "The Gospel of Relaxation" ( said that not only can emotions drive our actions, but our actions can drive our emotions.  In other words, if you act differently, you will feel differently.  For example, if you're struggling with self-doubt, act confidently and eventually you will feel confident.

Can we translate this to the written word?  Is this theory something that bloggers can make use of?
According to D. Matriccino of Writer's Digest, it is (  Mr. Matriccino says that it's a neuroplasticity thing.  If you keep telling yourself that you are an expert, that you are a professional, sooner or later your brain will believe it.  As Mohammed Ali, the great boxer, once said:  "To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best.  If you're not, pretend you are."  According to Mr. Matriccino, sooner or later, you won't be pretending.

On the other hand, blogger Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder, ( thinks the "fake it till you make it" theory isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Why not?

People do tend to be charmed by charisma.  Some consider it a way to compensate for incompetence and to overcome self-doubt.  However, according to Jeffrey Davis:  "Because faking it gets rewarded so often, we put more emphasis on learning to project confidence than on acquiring actual competence."

Jeffrey goes on to say that the "fake it till you make it" strategy is a result of the mistaken belief that humility equals weakness.  People in turn try to ooze confidence to convince others that they know what they're talking about.  In fact, it's vogue to hack education, to hack business and to hack mastery.  Everybody's an expert in their field.

However, the "fake it till you make it" advice is short sighted.  You can't be someone you're not.  The strategy diminishes merit and hard work.  Remember, there is no substitute for experience.  So, if you're a brand new blogger, come clean, admit it.  Yes, you won't come off as an expert.  But at the same time, you will be genuine.  And your readers will appreciate your candour.

Blogger Darrell Vesterfelt ( agrees.  In the world of business, people feel a tremendous pressure to perform.  The blogosphere is no different.  As a new blogger, Darrell tried to pass himself off as a professional.  However, he only told his readers half the story:  he left out the part about sleeping on a futon in his friend's guestroom.  He was an impostor.

Furthermore, using the "fake it till you make it" strategy, Darrell lost sight of two important things in his writing. Firstly, he forgot about the message; he focussed on what others wanted him to say rather than what he wanted to say.  He neglected telling the weaknesses about his story.  "The irony is our weaknesses are what make our messages believable, because they are what make us, as storytellers and communicators, relatable and reliable."  Readers want to read a blog that is reliable.  See my post about consistency at

Secondly, Darrell lost sight of his craft.  He wasted so much time and energy on faking it that he had none left for legitimate writing and for real growth.  In fact, he stopped writing on a daily basis, he stopped reading resources and he stopped inviting critiques of his work.  Darrell reminds us that if we can't write, we can't share our message.  "Don't lose your message because you're concerned with developping a persona."

Yes, confidence is important to writers.  However, you want to acquire it the right way.  Turn the saying around:  "Make it, Don't Fake It".  Then you'll feel that you've earned it.

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