The Confidence Game

“Fake it ʼtil you make it,” advised our Act Like A Writer instructor, Jonathan Maberry. Instructor Keith Strunk showed us how to use body language to hide our nervousness and appear more at ease. Although that sounds like they are teaching us deception and downright fraud, they are not.

They are teaching us confidence.

Scientific evidence demonstrates that when you act confidently and put your body in the postures of confidence, you really do feel more confident. The body positions trigger a chemical response in your brain, making your “faking it” closer to reality.

Also, with every successful public interaction, your confidence does in fact build. It layers upon itself like a pearl, accreting until your confidence becomes a real gem instead of costume jewelry.

All of us taking this workshop need confidence. That’s why we are there. But last week, when each of us read an excerpt from our work, I noticed an interesting phenomenon.

Everyone did a great job—which is not surprising, since everyone there had a good story and an obvious passion for their work. What was surprising is that every one of us—who had struggled and sweated over the pitches the week before—had fun with it.

I figured out that the reason I had such fun with my reading: I have full confidence in my work. I enjoy sharing it with people. I have no trouble letting it speak for itself—that’s when I am most comfortable. Speaking for myself, well, that’s another issue. I don’t yet have the same level of confidence in myself as I do in my work.

But then I realized something else: when I am out there as my author public persona, I am not speaking for just myself. I am speaking for my work—the work I am so proud of, the work I have such confidence in. I am a representative for that work, and I need to advocate for it as I would for my baby girl.

I am not afraid to speak up for my daughter. My anxiety falls away and I do what needs to be done because she cannot speak for herself, and no one else cares for her welfare as I do. She needs me.

My work needs me, too. I am its strongest advocate. I must use the confidence I have in my work to represent it with boldness, tenacity, and passion. There is no room for fear.

Fear still comes, of course—a mere four-week workshop can’t rid me of it completely. But I am learning the tools to conquer it. Learning to put things in a new perspective. Learning to turn my show of confidence into true confidence.

I’m fakin’ it, but I know someday I’ll be makin’ it!

What was the best advice you ever got about how to tame your fear and gain confidence?


  1. Loving the second paragraph about layers becoming pearls! Many of us in the arts have this confidence conundrum: on the one hand, we have to express ourselves though our art, on the other hand, we are not sure we are authentically gifted. It has taken me a long time to realize that, as long as people are touched in a positive way by my work, I am authentically gifted.

  2. Nice analogy, Kerry – our work is the fruit of our labors, guess that makes them our children. I will definitely think about this when I am pitching or even querying. Thanks for keeping us updated.

  3. Nancy Keim Comley says

    *SLOW DOWN* To not speak so fast that I sound like Minnie Mouse. Even better, if I slow down I give myself time to think, to reflect, to compose the next sentence. When I don’t gabble, I feel more in control of myself and my fear doesn’t vanish but at least it fades into the background.

  4. Excellent write up Kerry. I’m getting a lot from the class too. Feeling much more confident. Best advice I got so far: I don’t have control on how another person will react to what I say, only how I’ll respond to them. And I can always respond in a calm, polite and professional manner.

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