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If you can write down what you are thinking, that's the only skill you need to become a professional writer. (Editors can fix your grammar and spelling.)

But writing what you are thinking is much harder than it sounds.

An amateur writer usually writes what he imagines other people think, or what other people have already written, or what other people might expect to be written. It is surprisingly difficult to capture your own thoughts in prose. And that means vast amounts of knowledge and creativity are stranded in skulls all over the world.

So I thought I would try to free some of that creativity by telling you how to write down what you are thinking.

The first thing you must understand about writing your internal thoughts is that they are dangerous. If you can't handle some danger, this sort of writing probably isn't for you. If you only write down your non-dangerous thoughts, no one will want to read them.

Danger is a necessary ingredient for humor writing in particular. The audience should be thinking some form of "I'll bet that guy's wife is going to divorce him after she reads that," or "I wonder if that put him on the TSA no-fly list" or "I wonder if his family will disown him."

Danger is why we laugh when a comedian makes fun of the powerful, because on some level we feel that the powerful could strike back if they chose to do so. When John Stewart does his bleeped-profanity attacks on the powerful, all of our danger alarms sound.

The perception of danger is what helped Dilbert in the early years. Readers learned that I had a day job while at the same time I was mocking the stupidity of management. Folks rightfully wondered how long I would keep my job. They sensed danger. And as it turns out, they were right, because senior management did paint a target on my back.

What follows is an example of dangerous writing. If I do it right, you should be thinking I can't believe he actually wrote down those thoughts. That will bite him in the ass later.

True story:

Yesterday I was thinking about the fact that for every human skill there is bell-shaped curve of talent. Some people are extra-bad, most people are in the middle, and a few people are extraordinarily talented. This pattern seems to hold for every type of human skill from dancing to math to poetry.

So I started wondering if there is such a thing as the best masturbator in the world. I have to assume such a person exists. Clearly there is no way to rank one person's masturbation skills against another, but you have to assume some people are terrible at doing it, most people are average, but a few are - one assumes - truly sensational.

I can't decide if being a world-class masturbator is a blessing or a curse. I could see it going either way. The blessing part is obvious, at least while it is happening. But how does such a person ever hold down a job, succeed in a relationship that cuts into masturbation time, or generally function in the world?

And how would you feel if you had a world-class talent and no one knew about it? That would be frustrating. Maybe you have a friend who has an amazing job, another friend who can bench press 300 pounds, and another who a terrific artist. They all look at you and think you have no special talent. But you do!

Then I started thinking that most human talents tend to improve over the years. The best athletes are better than ever. The best engineers are better than ever. The best doctors are better than ever. And most of that improvement comes from the environment and not the DNA of the individual. For example, doctors are better because teaching methods and medical technology have improved. Athletes are better because nutrition, coaching, and science have advanced.

So what about world-class masturbators?

Well, the Internet has certainly improved their lot. In my childhood you were lucky to find a Sears catalog with a bra section. Today you can find on the Internet your exact fantasy preference, and lots of it. Your preferences can vary on any given day, but that's no problem because whatever you want is a few clicks away.

I also assume that porn sites are continually improving their offerings by monitoring customer patterns and developing more of whatever gets the best reaction. That sort of A-B testing should, in theory, take porn from "Oh, wow, this is good!" to somewhere in the range of "Can anyone find the part of my head that just blew off?"

Interestingly, while porn is presumably improving in leaps and bounds, just like every other business than can track consumer reactions and respond intelligently, the competition for porn (real humans) has largely stagnated.

Sure, people today are fitter, and they have better teeth and hair and makeup. But there is a limit to how sexy humans can be because we refuse to upgrade our personalities. For some reason we think it is noble to be true to ourselves, to "be real" instead of steadily improving.

So porn is improving every day, one assumes, whereas in-person human sexiness has already peaked. Humans are rapidly becoming uncompetitive with masturbation.

If that observation is true, we would expect to see some trends emerging.

1.    Decline in marriage rates (check!)
2.    High unemployment of the young who are happy living at home (check!)
3.    Lower rates of reproduction where the Internet has the highest penetration (check!)

Those trends could be correlation and not causation. But my point is that for the best masturbators among us, humans have probably already become uncompetitive for sex. And as you know, humans became uncompetitive for conversation the minute you got your first smartphone.

So here's another path for robots to take over the Earth. They just have to wait until the porn industry makes in-person sex seem antiquated, dangerous, and annoying. I give it fifteen years.
_________________________________

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of this book

 



 

 
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Aug 5, 2014
How do you differentiate writing what you're really thinking vs. writing affirmations? Don't you run into a certain cognitive dissonance here? The written affirmations are intended to program yourself to achieve whatever positive goal you are after. So, then your dear dumb lovable brain begins to form an association, like a trained dog: this stuff I'm writing is what I should think about myself!

But this creates an obvious problem for diary writers who want to be free to write anything and everything they might think of, including all the bad shizzit that happens so you can process it and learn from it and evolve and such. Won't this be counteracting all the affirmations?

 
 
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Aug 1, 2014
http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2190#comic
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 29, 2014
First of all, it's a blessing. Secondly, if Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park was to be correct, nature always finds a way.

The chemical makeup of our bodies is to seek a mate, put some moves on her and try and get some. If that fails, there's the Mr. Lefty. The real sadness is that the true nature of our sex turns on and hit's max RPM when we are young, healthy and not much else to do but for some reason we're totally discouraged from it.
 
 
Jul 28, 2014
You need a girlfriend.
 
 
Jul 27, 2014
One of the important things not in this thesis is the existence of STDs. These viruses and diseases can also inhibit human interaction and encourage people to play with themselves. (a nice set of words to avoid the filter, eh?)

Also note George Carlin and his theory to remove humans with the following steps:
1. Earth needs plastic
2. Earth can't make plastic, invent humans to do it
3. Humans got good at it, now earth has too much plastic
4. Time to get rid of the humans, how to do it?
5. Plenty of diseases available, but immune system pretty good; attack that
6. A disease to attack immune system to allow other diseases and viruses to invade [AIDS]
7. Propagate disease through reproduction systems. QED.

see George Carlin discuss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBRquiS1pis
 
 
Jul 27, 2014
One of the important things not in this thesis is the existence of STDs. These viruses and diseases can also inhibit human interaction and encourage people to play with themselves. (a nice set of words to avoid the filter, eh?)

Also note George Carlin and his theory to remove humans with the following steps:
1. Earth needs plastic
2. Earth can't make plastic, invent humans to do it
3. Humans got good at it, now earth has too much plastic
4. Time to get rid of the humans, how to do it?
5. Plenty of diseases available, but immune system pretty good; attack that
6. A disease to attack immune system to allow other diseases and viruses to invade [AIDS]
7. Propagate disease through reproduction systems. QED.

see George Carlin discuss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBRquiS1pis
 
 
Jul 26, 2014
I took a fcition writing class in college, and the professor remarked that if you're not embarrassed to show your writing to someone else, it's probably not that good. I didn't follow that advice much when I first heard it 25 years ago, but in recent years I definitely have and it's made a huge difference in the response I receive.
 
 
Jul 26, 2014
@language,
"this blog isnt about danger or controversy" <-- Seriously? Why would you be an authority on what this blog is meant to accomplish, or how it achieves that?

Seems that Scott should be that authority. And often enough, he's blogging about some dumb pseudoscience or socioeconomic idea that he's fondling and we tear out his gizzards and pummel him with it. He "puts himself out there" for a lot of abuse. Not to mention the bearded taint or Jezebel who seem to -- in particular -- scrutinize everything he writes for any hint of misogeny. I'd say Scott's perspective seems pretty valid (for an entertainment writer) even if it isn't a universal truth.
 
 
Jul 25, 2014
Since you can admit to contemplating who is a world class masturbator, you've inspired me to go ahead and publish my writing about practicing forgiveness. The way I define it, I've never forgiven anyone.

Speaking of masturbation, do you have any kids?
 
 
Jul 25, 2014
The only danger is the false consciousness masterbators have thinking they are being taboo or violating bible-thumpers mores (for an act done in private no less). You might as well fantasize about ra ping christians, because its their outrage that is getting you off.

its silly. this blog isnt about danger or controversy, its about giving ppl an opportunity to talk about something they find pleasurable, and delude themselves into thinking is edgy.

this reminds me of the song "I wanna be rich" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ztk9t_m1FpY). Just find something ppl like and focus on it, and it sells.
 
 
Jul 25, 2014
The robot connection that whtllnew objects to is obvious. Anything that humans find more pleasurable than human reproduction, be it drugs, masturb.ation or robots, favors either simple human extinction or humans merging with the robots to survive. The movie "AI" depicted such a future where the humans prefer specialized robot sex partners, so the humans go extinct.
 
 
Jul 25, 2014
Your theory doesn't hold water, if you'll excuse the slightly gross imagery that conjures in the present context. Here's why.

First, I suspect the curve is more tent-shaped in this case.

Second, this is (by definition) a purely internal skill, by which I mean there is no way to demonstrate to another person your level of mastery. How would you even define mastery? There's no metric, not even a subjective one as with art; your level of competence is entirely within your own head. With no metric, there is no way to measure one's progress along the curve, or to measure one person's skill against another. And THAT implies that there is no way to improve through practice. If you can't measure it, how do you know you're getting better? You might THINK you are getting better, but we all know that the human brain is easily fooled, and thus a really bad measuring stick for just about anything. Humans are competitive beasts by nature, and if there was a way for one person to demonstrate their superiority over another in this field, it would have already happened. That it hasn't (as far as I know) is a powerful argument that it can't.

Third, there is no incentive to become better at it. Without any way to measure mastery or to demonstrate it to others, the competitive angle is out. And there's only so much skill one needs to satisfy your personal level of needs. Achieving the extreme end of the bell-curve requires a LOT of work, the famous 10,000 hours of dedication. How or why would that happen here?
 
 
Jul 25, 2014
A promising new technique for detecting intelligent life on an exoplanet is the spectrograph of a hard-to-make chemical in their atmosphere. Clorofluorocarbon, for example.

If we found a spectrographic spike for lube on an alien world, we'd have to rethink our place in the mastur.batory universe. Scientists would compare their atmospheric levels of lube to ours. If there was a big gap, politicians would try to play catch-up. The President would be forced to appoint a Lube Czar. Larry Flynt?

 
 
Jul 25, 2014
Ha! Awesome post. Dead on. I don't think this will come back to bite you, I think it's a brilliant insight. I am clicking the like button now.
 
 
Jul 25, 2014
The robots are already taking care of this , "real dolls" and the "fleshlight" (ok not a robot but I could see integrating these two reatures in a robot.

Woody Allen's vision of the future predicted this with the "Orgasmatron" including the rather vapid social interactions of future people....
 
 
Jul 25, 2014
"Well, the Internet has certainly improved their lot."

Their lot? Really?
 
 
+13 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 25, 2014
People are fitter today? You either don't live in America anymore, don't leave the house much, or have NEVER been to a Wal-Mart.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 25, 2014
Just so you know, there *is* a World Champion in that area. It's called Masanobu Sato.

I wanted to add a link, but you can just search for it yourself.
 
 
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 24, 2014
You had me at, "Sears catalogue with a bra section."

Damn you Scott!
 
 
Jul 24, 2014
A couple of comments. First, I was promised a writing lesson, then left disappointed.

Second, to those doubting Scott's claim that this is dangerous writing (and to be fair, things can get much more dangerous than that), just imagine if a writer were not wealthy, well regarded, and with a solid support structure in place. An impoverished writer has much more to fear from a single unexpected backlash. It may not have sounded dangerous upon completion, but we can be sure Scott didn't know exactly what would escape onto the page when he initially tackled the subject. Moreover, think about context. If I were to say what he has written in public, or at my job, the subject matter would not be well-received. Put the speaker behind a computer monitor and ship instant copy to a million listeners, and everybody leaves with a chuckle. It's a difficult inconsistency for rationalists such as Scott (or myself, for that matter), to fully grasp. Of course it's all about context and such, but still. There is ambiguity involved when telegraphing any message.
 
 
 
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