Never sell your right to speak out

by David Alm January 6, 2014

Last week, the New York Times published an article on its website by Will Blythe, the former editor at large at Byliner, in which the author recounts how he was fired from that job and asked to sign a non-disparagement agreement in exchange for two weeks’ pay. He refused. I was once in the exact same position. Except […]

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Two degrees, 14 years’ experience, will tweet for food

by David Alm September 9, 2013

I’ll cut to the chase: I’m looking for a job. Specifically, a writing job, or at the very least, one that involves words in one way or another. This could include editing, ghostwriting, or even social media. It’s a depressing process, and I’ll explain why in a moment. But before I do, let me just […]

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The importance of doing nothing

by David Alm January 28, 2013

Every day at around 1 or 2:00, I take a 20-minute nap. Usually I’m at home at that time, so napping is as easy as lying down on the couch and setting my cell phone alarm for 20 minutes later. But I’ve been known to nap sitting up, too — in my office chair at […]

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Writing and risk

by David Alm November 9, 2012

Writing ranks pretty low on the list of guaranteed paths to success — down there with sculpting and growing exotic plants. No one goes into it because it’s a sure thing. And I’m not just talking about being a novelist or writing for the New Yorker. Writing, like acting, can take many forms: you can […]

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When a hurricane strikes…

by David Alm October 31, 2012

Unfortunately, I now understand what it’s like to live through a hurricane. Sandy tore through my city from Sunday night through early Tuesday morning, forcing millions of people to either abandon their homes or “hunker down,” to use the politicians’ nomenclature for enduring the storm from the confines of your house. I was one of […]

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An academic, a journalist, and a copywriter met on a sidewalk…

by David Alm April 12, 2011

Just about every time I have a conversation with anyone about his or her career, I get an earful of doubts, misgivings, annoyances, and, oftentimes, a nagging sense of futility about the entire enterprise. (And bear with me, the photo to your right will make sense soon enough.) Case in point: yesterday I ran into […]

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Let’s talk about Shop Class

by David Alm February 17, 2011

Last fall I finally got around to reading Matthew Crawford’s 2009 book Shop Class as Soulcraft: an Inquiry Into the Value of Work, a rich and compelling meditation on American education, “knowledge” work, and the intrinsic value of mastering a skill. While I have told a great many people about the book, which I loved, […]

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