Charles Daly


Category: Blog (page 12 of 15)

Bite Off More

Busy writers get more done. One of the best ways to increase your output is to increase your accountability and commitment. Take on a new weekly deadline on top of the work you’re already doing, check in with your writing partner, move an existing deadline ahead and work faster. That old struggle over ‘what you’re really trying to say’ gets a little bit easier when you stop giving yourself a lifetime to say it. 

“I’m always home, I’m uncool.”

I’ll let the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman take it from here in that immortal scene from Almost Famous. 

The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.

Team Building and Christmas Parties, Will Self’s Rules for Writers

In the Guardian’s Rules for Writers series, Will Self advises writers to view themselves as ‘corporations of one.’

“Take yourself off on team-building exercises (long walks). Hold a Christmas party every year at which you stand in the corner of your writing room, shouting very loudly to yourself while drinking a bottle of white wine. Then masturbate under the desk. The following day you will feel a deep and cohering sense of embarrassment.”

Reading Everything with Sarah Palin

In a now infamous interview, vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin was asked which newspapers she reads. Her answer: most of them. 

The hero of Woody Allen’s Zelig suffers a lifelong identity crisis that begins when he lies about having read Moby Dick

David Foster Wallace once asked a student, “have you read Anna Karenina?” To which the student replied, “well, not personally.”
There’s even a book on the phenomena, How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read.

This isn’t a reading problem, it’s a self esteem problem. It’s a fear problem, the fear of being found out. Left unchecked, this fear can make us talk like hateful politicians or like that windbag with the ponytail from Good Will Hunting. You don’t wanna be that guy. Just keep reading and get comfortable with the three liberating words: “I don’t know.”

Mass Reproduction in Dafen, China

Not that kind of reproduction..
Dafen Village, a suburb of Shenzhen, China, produces 60% of the world’s oil paintings. Thousands of painters, mostly struggling art school grads, toil long hours on an assembly line to reproduce well-known masterpieces. 

Photographer Susetta Bozzi has been documenting Dafen Village for some time. “I haven’t seen anything really artistic,” she told Wired. “They’re more like factory workers than artists.”

The assembly lines of Dafen are a reminder that competence is not enoughCompetence is the realm of the lowest bidder. A buyer who’s looking for an exact replica of Van Gogh will try to find it as cheaply as possible. The painter is irrelevant. Competence is faceless and replaceable

Did you work like a factory worker or an artist today?

Be yourself. Everyone else has been outsourced. 


Wabi-sabi (侘寂) — A Japanese aesthetic principal of beauty in the “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.[1]

See the Imperfectionist for wabi-sabi in practice.  

wabisabi, zen, garden

[1.]Koren, Leonard (1994). Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers. Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1-880656-12-4.

One Question for Seth Godin

This blog owes its existence to the wisdom of Seth Godin. These posts are an exercise in what he calls “shipping.” I make something every day and put it out in the world in order to practice the vulnerability required to make art. I think out loud often enough and publicly enough that I lose any fear of sharing my words. Seth Godin’s blog is my model. 
For those of you who don’t know, Seth Godin is the best selling author of Poke the Boxthe Icarus Deception, and the Purple Cow. He is the founder of Squidoo and Yoyodyne, one of the first online marketing firms. Forbes Magazine described Godin as a “Demigod on the web… uniquely respected for his understanding of the internet.” 
Recently Godin reached out to his readers for questions to address in an online course on freelancing. Mine is one of the questions that he chose. Here’s what he had to say: 
Charles Daly:
If, starting today, you had to draw 100% of your income from writing fiction how would you go about doing that? As writers we’re told that only the outliers get to pay the bills with novels, is that true?
Seth Godin:
As I’ve said before, and I’m going to keep saying, being generic is a choice. Being average is a choice, being in the middle is a choice. Only outliers can make a good living as freelancers. Only outliers make a living writing fiction. 
It’s the outliers who succeed, so that’s not the question. The question is: what type of outlier are you willing to be? 
One type of outlier is to be the writer of a specific type of genre fiction that you can own, that you can be the leader of, that you can be on the edge of. There’s someone I was talking to the other day who writes adult fiction that involves men and women and various furry animals. Don’t ask me, but there are people who really want that and if you’re the one who owns that genre you can do just fine. 
The other alternative is […] to build a subscriber base. You, like Charles Dickens, can have people who sign up to hear from you on a regular basis. 
So our work, as a writer of fiction, is to build something people want to talk about and they want to sign up for. 
What I say to every first-time novelist is simple:  if you can’t get it sold to a big, fancy publishing house (and you probably can’t,) take your novel, print it to PDF–make it pretty–and then send your novel to a hundred people. If they share it with a thousand or ten thousand people you’re doing great and publishers will start calling you. And if they don’t share it, well, your novel wasn’t that good and you should start over. But either way, it doesn’t wait for you to sit around hoping to get picked. 
Seth Godin
Seth Godin’s Freelancer Course is available through Udemy. It is a must for anyone interested in freelancing and entrepreneurship. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Along with Seth Godin’s eighty-seven mini lectures (varying in length from 1 to 5 minutes,) you get an active and supportive online community, and assignments to evaluate your assets as a freelancer. 
There’s another lesson here: I almost didn’t submit my question. There was a deadline, so I didn’t think I had enough time to craft something perfect that would wow my hero (because that’s why you ask questions, right?) Besides, I’m not someone who wins contests anyway. My question was far from perfect–I think I sounded like a fourth grader on career day–but I shipped it.
Thank you, Seth. 

A Cautionary Sketch

I missed my deadline for today’s post. Here’s a page from my journal instead. Like I said, missed deadlines must come with consequences.


When’s your deadline? More importantly, what happens if you don’t meet it? There’s nothing about marking a date on the calendar that inspires action. The effectiveness of the deadline is in the consequence of missing it. Journalists don’t believe in writer’s block because they can’t afford to. The stakes are lower in the fiction racket, and that’s a problem. We’re not going to starve if we don’t finish our stories on time any more than we’re going to feast if we do (and what, by the way, does ‘on time’ mean to a fiction writer?)  We must set our own deadlines and impose our own penalties. If the writing life is like having homework forever, the best writers work as though someone might cancel Christmas if they start slacking. 
D-Day for the second draft of my novella is May 10th. If I don’t get a draft to my first reader by then, she won’t read it. I’m supposed to take a trip that week: if I don’t turn in my draft, I won’t get on the plane.
D-Day for this post is now. It’s not right, but it’s written. 

How Many Conrads did you Write Today?

Author, Will Self measures his work in ‘Conrads,’ a unit equal to to Joseph Conrad’s daily word count. One Conrad is 800 words.
Self elaborated in the Telegraph:

“I write a first draft fairly rapidly,” he says. “I write in Conrads. Conrad wrote 800 words a day, on which he could support a butler, two maids, a chauffeur, a gardener and an under-gardener. On a good day, I write three Conrads, on a fighting day, four.”

  • NANOWRIMO writers challenge themselves to produce a novel of 62 Conrads in one month.
  • The rough draft of my latest project is 40 Conrads long. I’m looking for entire Conrads to cut.
  • Graham Greene limited himself to exactly 0.625 Conrads a day and stopped short even if he was in the middle of a sentence.
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