“Lying increases the creative faculties, expands the ego, and lessens the frictions of social contacts.” – Clare Boothe Luce, Born Apr. 10, 1903.
Lying is powerful.
Whether you call it telling tales, self-delusion, pretending, make believe, whatever – if you want to get good at what we do, you need practice.
If you want to be good off the cuff, you need to practice off the cuff. You can't practice fighting without sparring, and this exercise is like sparring for persuasion.
So practice making shit up, in real time, constantly. In real situations, with no safety net. Make a game of it. A kind of liar's improv.
Here is how to ease into it…
To warm up, stare at strangers. Listen to snippets of conversations. Make up back stories for people you meet as if they are characters you created. I do this all the time when grocery shopping or waiting in line.
It's fun. But that's not the real challenge. The real challenge will be harder for the more upstanding types among you.
Here is what to do. The next time you find yourself engaged in inconsequential small talk with strangers, lie. Make stuff up. Be someone different. I do this all the time when I travel. I've been a surgeon, a teacher, a pro poker player, a birthday party magician, and more.
Lie about where you're from. Relationship status. Hobbies. Interests. Whatever. Deliberately misrepresent yourself. Maybe even pretend to be one of the characters you invented in your warm up exercise.
If you're not used to doing this kind of thing, you'll get to feel how powerful it can be to have someone believe you even though you're completely lying. It's intoxicating.
But to be clear – I'm not saying to defraud or trick anyone in any consequential way. Just something silly and simple. Like lying about your job to the guy next to you in line at lunch. Just because.
Because you can see how people react. And because you're not talking about yourself, you can be objective in judging their reactions. You're not wrapped up in wondering what they think of you. You're not being you, so you can really push people, ask questions, and see if you can get them going.
Tell them stories. Even better, take a story you heard someone else tell about their own life, and steal it – tell it to someone as if it happened to you. Embellish it. Change details.
Why? It’s practice. Practice at inventing people, places, situations, details, etc. all off the cuff and at the drop of a hat. Because it makes you better at summoning the details you need when it matters – when you sit down to write.
Getting good at lying in real life will absolutely make your copy more believable – EVEN IF YOU'RE ALREADY TELLING THE TRUTH!
You want the power to make people believe what you claim, don't you? It's sort of key to making offers. You must portray it, express it, broadcast it.
Because that believability is entirely in the way you come across. Truth is NOT always self evident.
Just because what you're saying is true, doesn't mean you can convince your reader or viewer.
Not unless you have practice in believability. And what other better way is there to test that… Besides lying.
That's how you can tell if you're actually getting better.
Like Clare says, this can expand the ego. But the creative expansion and the decrease of social anxiety can be a big boon for people like us. The lessons you can learn pretending to be other people can make you more confident and comfortable to be yourself, too.
I'll stop here, because I know a lot of people HATE it when I talk about lying. Almost everyone was indoctrinated as a child to think lying is ALWAYS bad.
I don't agree.