I have used the word ‘fakism’ in this context to mean an absence of genuineness and a lack of originality or unique author’s voice. Linguistically, the word is a bastadized derivative of the English adjective, ‘fake’.
Now what exactly are we talking about here? What the heck is ‘fakism’? What is so disgusting and undesirable about it to the art and craft of writing that it must be eliminated, that it must be deemed a concept destined for extinction? And if killing ‘fakism’ is the sensible thing the writer should do, how does he go about it?
First, let’s attempt a description of the problem. Here is a writer sitting at his desk. His skull is brimming with brilliant, innovative ideas relevant to the essay topic he intends to enter. But he is trapped determining which words to use while trying to convert his ‘softcopy’ winning essay into a hardcopy.
His problem isn’t a dearth of ideas; it isn’t a short of vocabulary or a lack of understanding of the basic rules of grammar. He is well equipped with all those. His problem is a lack of confidence in himself, in the appropriateness of the very first words that come to his mind in conveying his message. He wants to impress his reader. So he carefully, even painstakingly, selects his words, taking minutes to inscribe a sentence. He is often caught struggling to decide which to use between (for instance) “compelling,” “convincing,” “gripping,” “captivating,” “fascinating” and “enthralling”…all words that convey absolutely the same meaning. Why? He wants to impress his readers! That’s ‘fakism’.
A writer, Joni B. Cole once said that a write-up shouldn’t be a “word salad.” I hasten to concur with him. If crafted pieces would achieve not just their literary motive but also their emotional and psychological effect on the readers, they must be an outpour of heartfelt expressions. They must be an assemblage of original and unique words coming directly from the writer’s heart of hearts, not a meticulously gathered conglomeration of words and sentences lacking any and every passion. The rule is simple: if you write to impress, it will always be bad, but if you write to express, your writing will be impressive.
Get it right – I’ve not said any junk words which present themselves to a writer should be used simply because such are called words, whether or not they are apt, whether or not they convey the writer’s mind with exactitude. Of course a writer should strive to choose only appropriate words that perfectly convey his precise meaning in his pieces. But then, that is no reason to spend 10 minutes “perfecting” a single sentence!
The primary purpose of writing for a contest or an audience is to express, to convey the writer’s thoughts to the readers. This should not be defeated in the course of trying to amaze your readers with meticulously-embellished, painstakingly-garnished and pretentiously-crafted words woven together.
Another ugly danger inherent in writing ‘fakism’ is in the way it truncates your line of thought, removes the expressive flow from your write-up. You run the risk of missing some of your arguments while unduly struggling to create a ‘wow’ sentence.
One way to effectively overcome the temptation to want to impress your readers is to be confident in your literary skills. Write as if you are before a close friend and are speaking to him. Usually, the first word that comes to your mind as good to express your thought is the best, the most original one you can find around – and using just that and proceeding to the next sentence or thought without ado is a great way to murder ‘fakism’.
Of course if you put down your thoughts this seemingly-hasty way in the first draft – whether you’re typing or writing on a paper – you’re susceptible to make some mistakes: typographical errors, poor diction, invalid arguments and whatnot.
But never worry, you aren’t alone in this. Even well experienced writers take extra time to critique, edit and proof-read whatever it is they’ve first scribbled. It is desirable that you leave sometime between your writing and when you return to it to put in finishing touches. That way, you’d have freshen your thoughts, been divorced of the frame of mind and milieu you were in during the drafting and that makes you a better critique of what you’ve written.
The merit in this approach is that you never get to use the 30 or 40 minutes you should utilize in crafting a piece to write only a paragraph of four sentences!
I should just add that if you envy proficient writers who spellbind their readers with compelling pieces and you’d love to join their league, you only need to imitate them. They did not become prolific by seeking to unduly impress readers. No writer ever achieved that! They only lived by the maxim: the best way to learn to write right is by writing.
So be consistent, be original, be patient and see how time transforms you into every reader’s choice.