Charles Daly

Freelance copywriter specializing in long-form B2B content.

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Reading List: The Bob Ross of India

“You can be cautious or you can be creative. But there’s no such thing as a cautious creative.”

–George Lois.


What I’m Reading

Charlotte’s Webb by EB White — The tearjerker classic by the author of the Elements of StyleThis is such a good read if you feel like getting back to the basics of storytelling.

The Carter of La Providence (Maigret #4) By Georges SimenonThere would be no point in trying to summarize each one of these detective novels. If you know, you know. I plan to write something about the experience of reading the series. I might take some time to read one every day, or maybe do a Simenon Sunday every week.

“Every Day a Saturday (Or, the Life You Want)” Ryan Holiday reflects on how one can “buy” a life with less stress and more meaningful work by saying “no” to stress-inducing opportunities.

What I’m Listening to

Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis —  Listening to the audiobook of the latest by Paul Jarvis, co-founder of Creative Class. Advice on how to stay small and use smallness to your advantage as a one-person business.

Chapo: Kingpin on Trial — Vice’s podcast on El Chapo. It’s also available in Spanish.

What I’m Watching

Photography tutorials by PiXimperfect who one photographer friend describes as the “Indian Bob Ross of Photography.”

What I’m Writing 

Two more weeks of Creative Live’s “28 to Make

“Day Off”




“Photo Doodle”

“Exquisite Corpse”

“People Watching”

“Day Off Week 2”


“Blackout Poetry”



“Notes in the Wild”

“People Watching 3”



Reading List: 28 to Make

This is a big month. We’re days away from finishing my dad’s memoir, I’ve started a daily blogging challenge over on Medium, and I’m taking more pictures and learning the basics of photo editing as I travel.

Here’s what’s inspiring me lately.

What I’m Reading

Beruit Rules: The murder of a CIA station chief and Hezbollah’s war against America by Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz–

The true story that inspired Syriana. It reads like a thriller. Large portions are redacted and blacked out. I’d recommend this to anyone interested in the Middle East, foreign policy, and espionage. No matter what your views are re: policy in that region, this book is bound to make you uncomfortable. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t have a happy ending.

“If you Only Read a Few Books in 2019, Read These” — Like all of Ryan Holiday’s reading lists, this one is mostly books you might not have heard of otherwise and definitely aren’t going to find on anyone else’s list.

“Say NO Unless a Project has at Least 2 of these 3 Things…” — Vital career advice for freelancers and creatives of all stripes from Chase Jarvis. I find that his argument helps put the “is it ever okay to work for free?” debate to bed.  Basically, Jarvis says you should only do work that fulfills two out of these three requirements:

  1. Pays well.
  2. Helps you build your portfolio.
  3. Builds a relationship.

What I’m Watching

Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists — A fascinating portrait of two of the greatest local journalists of all time, and a heartbreaking look back at old New York. My brother, Michael Daly, who delivered Breslin’s eulogy, is in it.

What I’m Writing

Since February has 28 days, it’s the perfect month to do “28 to Make” a creativity challenge from Creative Live.

Participants make and share a quick sketch every day for 28 days. I’m doing the same but with words.

Each day in February, I’ll set a timer for 20 minutes and write a “sketch” inspired by the prompt for the day.

Here’s what I’ve sketched so far:



“Album Art”

“What’s in Your Bag”


“People Watching Mad Lib”

Stay tuned for more.


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Reading List: A World Without ‘No’

“I’m a bit like a sponge. When I’m not writing I absorb life like water. When I write I squeeze the sponge a little – and out comes, not water but ink.”

–Georges Simenon


What I’m Reading

The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon — The 3rd novel in his Jules Maigret series. (AKA, literature’s second most famous pipe-smoking detective.)

“How Hitler Nearly Destroyed the Great American Novel” — In bizarre intellectual property battle, an American publisher ended up defending Hitler in court while one of our country’s greatest novelists got caught in the legal fray.

“How Chuck Palahniuk Became a Darling of the Alt-Right and Antifa” — A sober discussion about the rise of extremism and the potential for redemption.

How Georges Simenon Wrote Nearly 200 Books — The writing tactics and career strategies used by the ultra-prolific Belgian author who would write a novel in 10 or 11 days. (He wrote over 400 books in his lifetime, but the article seems to get everything else right.)

The Mystery Man — An interview with Georges Simenon accompanied by a short story from the April, 1962 issue of Réalités.


What I’m Listening to

Let’s Talk About it With Chris P.My friend Chris has a new podcast, collecting stories from the interesting people he’s met in his journey through life including a former UFC fighter, and an expert on whales.

What I’m writing

“A World Without ‘No'” — I turned a recent rejection into a thought-for-the-day type post on Medium


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Reading List: “Thrilling Cities”

“Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes,’ otherwise, you’ll lead a very dull life.”

― Ian Fleming


Happy New Year. The theme for this week is adventure. I’ve been lucky enough to spend 10 of the first 18 days of 2019 on the road in Ireland and the American south.  On my wander, I’ve been reading up on adventurers past and present, including a mildly racist 1960 travel guide, relationship advice from a war photographer,  and a weekend trip up the highest mountain in Mexico.


What I’m Reading

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts — I come back to this book again and again as I plan adventures and extended trips abroad. Put this at the top of your list if you’re interested in longterm travel (i.e., Teaching abroad, working remotely, or saving a bunch of money and fucking off on a world tour. ) Potts shows you how to make “vagabonding” a reality, how to avoid common pitfalls, in both mindset and logistics, and gives examples of how others have done it. He also includes information on how to see the world with a family or if you’re elderly or have special needs. This is the book I want to give to everyone who’s ever said “must be nice…” or “I wish I had the (time/ money/ courage) to do that…” when I tell them that I’m traveling pretty much full time.

Thrilling Cities by Ian Fleming — A Mad Men era bachelor’s guide to the great cities of the world by the creator of James Bond. These essays were originally published–in an edited form–in the Saturday Evening Post. That they’re so politically incorrect by today’s standards makes them that much more charming. The prose is outstanding, and the content ranges from “shit my grandpa says” to wildly offensive, but it’s never boring.

The Story of the First Sherpa to Climb to the Top of Mt. Everest — From the June 5th, 1954 issue of the New Yorker, a feature on Tenzing Norgay, the Nepalese sherpa who shared the first ascent of Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary.

Sir Don McCullin: What I’ve Learned — War photographer Don McCullin shares his life lessons with Esquire UK ahead of a retrospective of his work at Tate Britain.


What I’m Watching

55 Hours in Mexico — This 9-minute Vimeo documentary proves that you don’t need to wait for a vacation to go on an adventure. The film follows a group of skiers from Colorado who take a weekend trip to Mexico where they climb the country’s highest mountain and ski down it and are home in time for work on Monday.

What I’m Doing

Taking pictures. I shot a bunch of 35mm film in Ireland on a cheap little Minolta point & shoot, mostly portraits of my friends.


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Reading List: How to be an Artist

“Your skill will be whatever it is you’re doing differently.”

–Jerry Saltz


The theme for this week is “making it”: how to make it, how to define making it, and how to eliminate the distractions that not only keep you from making it but keep you from making anything.


What I’m Reading

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport – I try not to get hysterical about these book recommendations, and I want to avoid prescribing “absolute must-reads” or saying there’s something wrong with you if you haven’t read a certain book. But in the case of Deep Work, drop whatever you’re doing and read it.

This book will not only change the way you approach work, but it will change the way your brain allocates its precious attention and focus. After one week of implementing some of the distraction-cutting suggestions Newport lays out, I’ve almost doubled my word count per hour, and I’m getting more done in shorter workdays.

“How to Be an Artist: 33 rules to take you from clueless amateur to generational talent (or at least help you live life a little more creatively).” – A massive post that does just what it says–takes you through the stages of becoming an artist from starting out to navigating the politics of success. Most of Saltz’s advice can apply to writers or creatives of any type. He gives some outstanding creativity prompts that can work in a variety of media

“You Probably Won’t Make it to the Top” – Ruby on Rails developer and Basecamp founder David Heinemeier Hansson urges creatives and entrepreneurs to stop comparing themselves to others  and instead focus on the work itself:

“Luxuriate in the experience and flow of getting better. Stop playing games where you can’t set the rules. Start winning the ones where you can.”

“Don’t Save Anything for the Swim Back” and “Never Complain; Never Explain” – Words to live by from The Art of Manliness. The first is a philosophy of total commitment from the movie Gattaca. The second is the personal motto of Benjamin Disraeli and Winston Churchill which I have tattooed on my forearm. I plan to write something about that soon.

What I’m Listening To

Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts – A 50-plus-hour audiobook on the life of Winston Churchill. I’ve found that by choosing long books on Audible I can let my free credits accumulate and end up with several free books every time I finish one. I plan on breaking up this epic listen with a few shorter audiobooks.

“Vice signaling” on the Joe Rogan Experience – Joe Rogan and math genius Eric Weinstein kick off their nearly 4-hour conversation by contrasting the merits of virtue signaling and vice signaling. Weinstein argues that vice signaling is a “growth industry.” In short, leading with one’s faults and vices is more honest, rarer, and more valuable than advertising one’s virtues and one’s ability to toe the line of inoffensiveness.

What I’m Watching

The American Meme – An almost too painful to watch Netflix documentary about social media stars and their lives off-screen. Fantastic motivation if you’ve recently quit social media and feel like you’re missing anything.

What I’m Writing

A Medium article about my first week off Facebook and why I decided to give it up.

I’m working on a post getting into “vice signaling” and how I’ve seen it play out in my own life. I’m also outlining my own reflection on the maxim “Never Complain. Never Explain” and why I decided to tattoo those words on my arm.


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Reading List: If you Write, You’re a Writer

“If you write, you’re a writer. And no one can take that away from you.”

–Brian Koppelman


What I’m Reading

Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War by Ben Macintyre — “This book is about courage,” Macintyre writes in the introduction. I was expecting to nerd-out on some military history and got so much more. This book is about strategy, problem-solving, adversity, and how to influence people who aren’t ready for your vision of the future. If you’re into WWII you’ll love this book, but I’d also recommend it to founders, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. It’s basically the story of a military startup.

So Good They Can’t Ignore: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love You By Cal Newport  — As with Rogue Heroes, the long subtitle sums this one up nicely. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in finding work they love. It challenges the “passion mindset” with the “craftsman’s mindset.” The former focuses on what your work can do for you, the latter is about what you can offer the world through your work.

“What Happened After Jonestown?” — A nauseating look at the cleanup and controversy that followed the worst mass suicide in recent times. Not something to read over lunch.

Sam Shepard’s letters and a collection of his interviews.

Brian Koppelman’s Tweets — Just what the doctor ordered when you’re struggling with your creative work.


What I’m Listening To

“Jonestown” The Last Podcast on the Left — A five-part deep dive into Jim Jones, his cult, and their mass suicide. Listener discretion is advised, especially if you can’t take sick jokes.

What I’m Watching

Liz Wellington on House Hunters International — My friend, the travel writer and content strategist, Liz Wellington was featured on House Hunters International as she and her boyfriend search for an apartment in Madrid.

Kent William’s advice to aspiring artists — Two and a half minutes of awesomeness from a talented and successful painter.

What I’m Writing

Drafting some Medium posts in my free time after my fiction, nonfiction, and freelancing work are done for the day.

The Title Capitalization Tool — I found this handy site while trying to figure out how to capitalize the headline for this post. Plug in your title or headline and it will automatically convert it to the correct format in  AP, APA, or Chicago style.


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Writer’s Gift Guide 2018

The things that make someone a writer can’t be bought. There’s no Black Friday sale on heartbreak, introversion, or an unhappy childhood. You can’t buy inspiration or a gift card redeemable by the muse. But you can buy the writer in your life a few material things to make his or her work more comfortable and pleasurable. Here are a few gift ideas, most of which I use or have used.

For more suggestions be sure to check out Kaleigh Moore’s 2018 Freelancer’s Gift guide (and if anyone wants to buy me that chair she recommends…)


An inexpensive fountain pen like the Kaweco Classic Sport or the Lamy Safari. These are cheap but they last forever and write like something much more expensive. Both are considered new classics, and any serious pen collector will appreciate them no matter what else they have in their collection. Either one is a perfect everyday jotter for someone who already has something more expensive they’re afraid to lose.

For a stocking stuffer, consider the disposable Pilot Varsity or the Platinum Preppy.

The world of high-end fountain pens can be hard to navigate, and there’s a lot of overpriced gilded bullshit out there. Here are my three favorites.

The Sailor 1911 (this is the pen, with a medium-fine nib, is the one I write with)

The Lamy 2000

The Pilot Heritage 92

Both the Lamy and the Pilot are piston fillers, meaning they require ink from a bottle. The Sailor takes cartridges, so it’s better for travel in my opinion.

If you live in New York, you can buy your pens in person at Goods for the Study or the Fountain Pen Hospital. In Boston, check out the Bromfield Pen Shop. In Montréal, go to Nota Benne where they also sell refurbished typewriters.



My favorite leather notebook is the Leuchtturm1917. It has numbered pages, a blank table of contents, two bookmark ribbons and way better paper than a Moleskine. Obviously, you can get 240 sheets of bound paper for less than $20, but the way I see it, journals are R.O.I positive. I get more than $20 worth of ideas out of mine, I get more than $20 worth of enjoyment out of writing on nice paper, and I get more than $20 of productivity out of it by using mine as a Bullet Journal.

Yellow legal pads are the best deal in paper. My entire outlining process is designed for a single sheet of yellow legal paper. I get mine in bulk from Amazon.

Everything I write that’s longer than a few pages starts on index cards, and I’ve recently started using them to take notes on what I read. I like Oxford 3x5s. I don’t have big enough ideas for 4×6.


The War of Art by Steven Pressfield — A book about resistance (writer’s block) and how to defeat it one day at a time. I recommend this book to anyone who thinks they’re too tough for writerly self-help.

Show your Work and Steal Like an Artist and Keep Going (preorder) by Austin Kleon — Motivation and inspiration in the form of books that are works of art in their own right.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott — A holistic approach to the creative life. A good one for the writer who needs to learn self-kindness.

Mastery By Robert Greene — A doorstopper about how we master skills and what we can learn from past and current masters in areas from sculpture to boxing.

Pep Talks for Writers By Grant Faulker — Just What it sounds like from the founder of NaNoWriMo.

A Waterproof Kindle — I’ll probably get one when I inevitably destroy my old one in the water.

An Audible Membership – You get one free book every month (or three if you get the Platinum plan) and if you’re like me and you read 30-hour+ books like Robert Greene’s Laws of Human Nature or the new translation of Don Quixoteyou end up amassing a bunch of credits as they roll over month-to-month.

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Reading List: Mood Tunes and a WWI Podcast

“You know who doesn’t go around calling themselves ’the boss?’ Bosses.” —Ryan Holiday

I’m still reading Sam Shepard’s The One Insideso I haven’t got any book recommendations for you this week. I do however have a bunch of articles, on everything from mortgage payments to bullies, and two of the best Spotify playlists ever made.


What I’m Reading 

“Your Life in Weeks” — If this article from Wait But why? doesn’t motivate you to get busy living, I don’t know what will. Spoiler alert: we don’t have much time.

Frogman Comics — Entertaining my inner-boy and doing some research for the novel with these vintage comics about the real-life exploits of the Navy frogmen. The Frogman series was originally published in 1952 in the middle of the Korean War, shortly after the role of the frogmen in D-Day and the Pacific had been declassified. The reprinting features ads from the 1950s including mail-order fitness plans for kids who are tired of being picked on for being skinny.

“‘Never Forget’: the Story of Pete Davidson’s Father killed on 9/11” — My brother, Michael Daly, honoring a fallen hero in the Daily Beast. 

“The Tradeoff: The True Story of my $624 mortgage payment”–Catherine Baab-Muguira tells the story of a real estate bargain that gave her the freedom to travel and write more. This post and her piece on whether or not writers need to move to New York have been helpful to me as I figure out my next move.

Ryan Holiday:

  • “Living Like a Boss” — On why you should shut up, keep your head down, and let your work speak for itself. He also gets into why consultants and self-proclaimed experts tend to be “clueless assholes.”
  • “Maybe and Might” — On the virtues of ambivalence and loosely held opinions.
  • Means— Why you shouldn’t take advantage of a dip in the economy to upgrade your living situation any more than you should move your house closer to the water when the tide goes out.

Robert Greene has two fantastic posts on dealing with difficult people which draw from his latest book The Laws of Human Nature:


What I’m Listening to

Hardcore History, “Blueprint for Armageddon” A multi-part, 20+ hour deep-dive into WWI, it’s causes and implications extending to the present day.

Two Spotify playlists: Little Big Clap and Really Good Mood Tunes. If you’re getting married anytime soon, forget the DJ, don’t hire a band, all you need is an AUX cable and these playlists.

What I’m Writing

Deep in the re-writes of my dad’s book and a novel. Anyone can start two books in a year, finishing them is a challenge.

What I’m Doing

Exploring the Cape Cod National Seashore. Henry David Thoreau said of this stretch of coast,

“A man may stand there and put all Americans behind him.”


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Reading List: Don’t Order Fish on Monday

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park.”
–Anthony Bourdain

What I’m Reading

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. A must-read for anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant or eaten in one.  It’s where he explains why you should never order fish on a Monday. This is my first time re-reading it since he eighty-sixed himself, and I’m rapidly alternating between anger and admiration.

Bourdain’s Articles on Medium including one about #metoo and his feelings of personal responsibility for having perpetuated a culture of “grotesque behavior” in kitchens with his early writing.

 “Here’s what Happened when I Quit Drinking A year Ago.” Quitting drinking from a perspective that’s a little more relatable to nonalcoholics.

How to Read More–a lot More.” In a short post reminiscent of Orwell’s “Books vs. Cigarettes“, Ryan Holiday reminds us that reading is not a luxury.

What I’ve Been Listening to

 The audiobook of Kitchen Confidentialin which Bourdain voices the accents of his runners, busboys, and mob-connected purveyors.

The Velvet Underground & Nico.

Weezer covering “Africa” by Toto after being successfully petitioned to do so by a fan on Twitter.

What I’ve Been Writing

I’ve been taking notes for the first time while I read.

Reading List: Micky Avalon Revisited

Instead of talking about how much money we have, let’s talk about how much we don’t have.”

–Micky Avalon


What I’m Reading

Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. The true crime story that inspired The Departed and Black Mass. A must-read for new arrivals in Boston who don’t know the story of the city’s disturbing pre-tech past.

Just Kids by Patti Smith. On art, love, life, loss, and trench mouth.

5 Things Every Entrepreneur can Learn from Rappers Micky Avalon and Simon Rex.”

What I’m Listening to

McCauley Culkin on Joe Rogan. The Home Alone star has grown up to write, paint, podcast, and found an art collective.

Florence Welch reading “Lovesong” by Ted Hughes.

Micky Avalon.

What I’m Watching

The world series with my dad.


What I’m Writing

Working on a New Year’s deadline for dad’s memoir.

Finished marking up the rough draft of my novel. I’ll be posting my novel log, documenting the writing process, on Medium. Stay tuned.


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