The Joys of Unplugging

A wooden screen door slapping closed. Small waves gently lapping up against a waterside cabin. Delicious lake breezes rustling the leaves and billowing a window’s curtain. The sounds of summer. The sound of leisure. The sound of unplugging. What could be sweeter?

Promise I’m not trying to rub it in, but… I’m in the midst of a well-deserved vacation after my recent book launch (check it out here). I’m on the shores of Thompson Lake – one of the prettiest, cleanest, clearest lakes in Maine – for my annual retreat to The Cape (though the pix there don’t begin to do the place justice…), an indescribably beautiful spot in the southwest part of the state. Highs in the mid-70’s, dry, breezy. Yes, we’ve had some rain, but even the rainy days are lovely in their own way.

40 minutes of swimming every morning in its brisk, bracing, crystal-clear waters (and a few more times through the day). Days spent reading, raspberry-picking, antique-store-hopping, farm-stand browsing (often unattended with honor-system cash boxes), and chowder- and lobster-roll scarfing.

By the way, for those of you who’ve never experienced a lobster roll – certainly one of life’s perfect culinary experiences – here’s the drill: the meat of an entire lobster, cut in bite-size chunks, mixed with a tiny bit of mayo to bind it, a dash of salt and pepper, and all crammed into a grilled, buttered, top-split hot dog bun. Words fail…

And naps. Oh, the naps – utter bliss. No place to be. Nothing to do. Time rendered relatively meaningless. Genuinely unsure of what day it is. Getting back in touch with nature and one’s natural rhythms and a simpler way of living. Reconnecting with family and friends.

Meals bursting with ingredients locally grown, made or caught: yogurt, granola, honey, vegetables, herbs, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries (pick your own at five bucks a quart), lobster, crabmeat, maple walnut ice cream and so much more…

And unplugging… No TV. No phones (yes, I have my cell, but it doesn’t always work…gee, what a shame). Email? I check it just once a day, and guess what? The world doesn’t end. Honest.

I do it from the wraparound porch of the main house (having to walk 100 yards to get a signal prevents more frequent monitoring, and that’s a very good thing…), sitting in a rocker overlooking stunning English gardens and the lake just beyond. It’s enough to make you giddy. Seriously.

I’m the first the admit that there’s no way I could accomplish what I do and have done minus my connection, but that same connection, let’s be honest, often links us to a world utterly lacking in richness, depth and substance. Regular unplugging is healthy. I’m guessing you won’t miss being connected all that much, and if you do, you need to disconnect more than you know. Doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to happen.

Next week, I’ll be all hooked up again, but that’s seven days away. And until then, I’m going to work overtime at being unproductive. Gotta go – it’s cocktail hour.

Do you take time to totally unplug at least a few times a year?

What does yours look like?

What does it mean to you?

If you don’t, have you made plans to?


Generalist or Specialist? (P.S. Seeking a Few Successful Generalists for Webinar…)

(Sorry it’s been so long since the last post. The book launch (and myriad technical issues) have kept me hopping of late. We’re back on track…)

Finishing up a round of work for one of my regular commercial freelancing clients recently, I once again paused to savor my original choice to be a commercial writing generalist. Yes, I tout my sales and marketing background as positioning me nicely to write effective copy in that arena, but within that broad category, I enjoy taking on projects types across the spectrum.

And frankly, I wouldn’t have landed this client as a specialist focused on one industry or writing project type. Over the past three or four months, she’s hired me to work on commercial writing projects spanning the gamut: marketing brochures, ads, direct mail, flyers, emails blasts, landing page copy and a lot more – for one of her clients.

I love the variety and she loves that she can get everything she needs from one person. She’s crazy-busy all the time, with little time to juggle writers; she needs and wants ONE reliable and multi-talented writing partner.

Others in our field (you?) love the specialist route. Folks like Michael Stelzner (white papers) and Casey Hibbard (case studies) spring to mind. Others zero in on one industry – usually the one they came out of. They love (or at least don’t mind) operating with a narrow focus, and are typically rewarded handsomely for doing so – often more than generalists.

But, while income potential is often higher for specialists, in my humble opinion, you should choose either route, first and foremost, because you truly enjoy that path, not because you think you’ll make more money. I mean, isn’t one of the key reasons for self-employment to do what you enjoy?

WANTED: A few successful generalists (like me!) to showcase in upcoming webinar. I’m looking for a few commercial writers who’ve gone the generalist route by choice and thrived (i.e., a six-figure writing income, ideally, or close to it…); big plus if you have a web site. If that sounds like you, email me.

Are you a generalist or a specialist, and why did you chose your path?

If you’re an ex-generalist/now-specialist, why did you make the change? Is your job satisfaction and/or income higher as a result?

Have you found that being one or the other has helped you weather a tough economy?

What do you see as the pros and cons of your path?