198: Monkey on a Keyboard

How do you come up with this stuff? -Herb Thiel.

Well, Herb, you asked a stupid question, so you’re about to get a stupid answer. Buckle up.

Back in the late 60s there was a hippy artist named Bruce Nauman who got really big in the whole modern art scene. He graduated from some shmancy art school and got a studio. Then he went to his studio to make art.

But he didn’t know what to make. So he sat around in his studio thinking about what he should make. As he sat and thought a strange idea popped into his head. “If I was an artist and I was in a studio,” he said, “then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art.” So Nauman made videos of himself sitting around thinking about what to make.

The idea that everything you do in your studio is art is one of the dumbest ideas in existence. Sometimes you can skate by in a normal day job just by showing up, but don’t try to convince yourself that everything you do there is work. Just because you have a kitchen doesn’t mean that food is constantly being cooked in it. You don’t have a fire just because you have a fireplace.

There’s an old theory that if you gave a monkey a keyboard it would eventually write Shakespeare, just by randomly banging the keys. This is probably true. In fact, you could make the argument that Shakespeare himself was just a monkey on a keyboard who happened to bang some pretty good keys.

You can’t paint just by looking at a paint brush. You’re not reading a book every time you sit beside a book shelf. You can’t write just by sitting next to your computer, you’ve got to bang on your keyboard a little bit.

So there you have it. Dumbestblogger’s one step tutorial to becoming a successful writer. Hit those keys until you have something that you’re not totally embarrassed to share with the rest of the world.

Gee, I’m gonna have to add a few more steps if I’m ever gonna get rich off of my writing tutorials.

Truth be told, I think Herb already knew how I come up with this stuff, as he posted a pretty cool story yesterday that outlines exactly how to do it.


Photo by Arindam Raha onPexels.com

21 thoughts on “198: Monkey on a Keyboard

  1. Not only do I share a first name and the last 3 letters of the surname with Bruce Nauman, but I see we share the same birthday. I viewed the video with an open mind and thought it crap! You make a worthy point. The New Zealand writer Janet Frame (now dead) said “Go home and lock the door and write your novel. Forget about talking about Art while sipping coffee on the sidewalks of Paris” (I paraphrase). I have a story scheduled for 16th June 2020 which deals with this topic. Different approach maybe from yours but similar theme.

  2. Wow. Thank you for the link to my story. I tried to watch the video. What a great gimmick if you can sell it. I think most of us, though, have to just sit our butt in the chair and start writing.

  3. 1. The video was remarkable. Thanks for sharing.
    2. You should put me on retainer so that I can help you with those tutorials.
    – Your title sucks. It should go more like that: “The secret that will turn you into an amazing writer.” Or “One thing that you need to do to become a successful writer.” See? More clickable than “Monkey on a keyboard.”
    – Your post should be in the form of a list. They seem to be more popular as it’s easier to read for people who pay no attention to the written word.

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