In her famous TED Talk, Amy Cuddy speaks about how by embracing her fake it till you make it attitude, she managed to achieve academic success despite her disabilities. Since I first heard it, that “fake it till you make it” motto stuck with me for years. It helped me make a career in IT, teach others what I knew, lose weight, and it helped me become a traditionally published writer, though that last one took somewhat longer than planned.
If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch her speech. It’s amazing; makes me tear up a little each time I see it. Because Amy’s story, in essence, is the story of all of us struggling to become more in life than what we were born.
However, the fake it till you make it approach is older, much older than TED Talks and modern self-help guides, and slightly too esoteric for my comfort, but bear with me, I think this is worth understanding.
I recently went to the San Francisco Asian Art Museum to see the exhibition on the history of Buddhist teachings. The third, and most recent revolution in teaching, called the Vajrayana—the Lightning Vehicle—introduces a method for hastening up the process of achieving enlightenment. It suggests that instead of meditating as a human being trying to become awakened, each monk should mediate as one who has already awoken. That approach is still being taught today.
What if we were to apply it to writing? (Or any other skill for that matter.)
What if, instead of writing as you, the struggling writer, yet to make a name for yourself, you wrote as someone already established? What if you wrote, knowing that your art isn’t for everybody and some people are bound to dislike what you create. What if you wrote without holding back the way you do now?
Many of the writers I work with feel that they’re not allowed to do certain things before they become famous and established. They hold back on their best, most sincere and private writing for fear of being judged. They shouldn’t. You shouldn’t.
Fake it till you make it, pretend you’re allowed everything that your favorite writer does and much more besides. Write as if you mean it.
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