What a year it has been. Personally, 2017 has been exceptional. It wasn’t all rainbows and dollar signs, but things are trending in the right direction.
Okay, let’s get started.
Reflecting on 2017
The year started off strong. I was still at my old day job – teaching English to first graders in Yangzhou, China, my wife and I, with help from her parents, bought an apartment near Shanghai, and dictation became a part of my writing process, which kickstarted the 100k Writing Challenge.
This was my third year teaching in China (4th year overall) and the experience has been a lot of fun. Occasionally frustrating, like practicing having fun for three days because a government official was coming to inspect the school or waking up too damn early and going to class only to find out classes are canceled. Overall though, it’s been a worthwhile experience. In fact, I wish I had traveled abroad to teach English sooner. Experiencing life outside the US has been a satisfying and fulfilling adventure. Leaving a comfortable government job to teach ESL probably seemed foolish to a lot of people, especially since I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy being around kids all day. After sucking it up and moving to Korea, I realized that I actually like kids quite a bit. There are a ton of benefits to living abroad and that’s what pushed me out of my comfort zone – low cost of living, comparatively high pay, lots of free time, delicious food, easy travel, and so much more. I’ve since paid off my debt and live a much freer life because of it.
Sometime around February or so, we decided that we could afford to have me quit my teaching job to write full-time. The rest of the time before my teaching contract ended in June, I wrote like mad. Once the school year ended, my wife and I moved into to our new apartment and got back to work.
We also bought a spring season pass for Shanghai Disneyland and had a blast! We’ve now been to Disneyland in Anaheim (3 times for me, once for my wife) and now Shanghai. We’d like to visit every Disney park in the world. Luckily, Hong Kong and Tokyo are fairly close. Disney World and Disneyland Paris will be more challenging.
Getting back in shape has remained a struggle. Even when I left my day job, it’s been difficult to remain consistent with my workouts.
In the health department, I had to get a root canal. It wasn’t as bad as people made it sound. After I got the Novocain shot (which they said I didn’t need) it was a breeze. Thank goodness we had a trustworthy dentist nearby. They did a great job and the procedure was affordable with no insurance. All told, for the best materials, multiple x-rays, multiple visits, and Novocain, it cost roughly 3,000 RMB or about $460 USD.
Lessons Learned: Four years of teaching (3 in China, 1 in Korea) has made me more comfortable speaking and performing in front of groups of all sizes. It also opened up business opportunities, which were started this year, but are a big part of my goals for 2018. Hard work pays. My writing income has tripled to a reliable 4-figures per month. Consistency is still something I need to work on to hit my goals.
- Bought an apartment outside of Shanghai, China.
- Went to full-time author as of June 24th, 2017.
- Had a spring season pass to Shanghai Disneyland.
- Joined first anthology in August (End of Days).
- Hosted/Launched my first anthology in November (Fall of Magic).
- Published 7 unique titles. This includes 2 anthology contributions, 2 co-written books, and 3 solo titles (One I later unpublished).
- Wrapped up a co-written trilogy, The Collin War Chronicles.
- Hit and maintained my first income goal of low 4-figures per month.
- Hit all-time sales goal of 5,000 book sales, with 60% of those sold in 2017 alone.
- Failed to hit my target weight of 100kg/220lbs.
- Didn’t publish as many books as I wanted to. Goal was 8 solo titles (fell WAY short!).
- Didn’t launch a podcast that I’ve been planning on.
- Barely missed hitting my goal of writing 1,000,000 words this year.
Overall, the failures of 2017 weren’t that bad. The publishing one was a little disappointing since I’m now full-time. I got stymied by a difficult anthology submission and some difficulty writing the collaborations. For future co-writing collaborations, I plan to have the whole thing outlined before the writing starts. W.C. Hoffman and I lost a TON of momentum between book 1 and 2, which sucks because the trilogy is awesome. 🙂
The podcast didn’t get off the ground because of internet issues. China can be difficult when it comes to internet since they censor so much and really tighten things up during special events (the Party Congress), anniversaries (like Tienanmen Square) or holidays. I’ve debated whether to just do the best and deal with dropped calls and poor access to resources or wait until we move to a less restrictive country. Now I’m leaning toward a short format interview with like 15-minutes of news every week.
My bodyweight is serious if I don’t deal with it since it raises my risk of many preventable diseases. Combine that with lots of sitting to get my work done and it’s a recipe for early death.
Goals for 2018:
- Publish 8 books.
- Write 1,000,000 words.
- Submit a book to Kindle Scout.
- Make a consistent mid-4-figure income per month.
- Reach & maintain ideal body weight of 100kg/220lbs.
- Launch teaching website.
And… Possibly start the podcast I’ve been thinking about.
How will I hit my goals?
Publishing 8 books shouldn’t be too difficult, especially since I was so close this year. A few minor adjustments to my work flow will help with this. For example, I will outline more thoroughly and efficiently so I don’t have to wait for new beats to continue drafting. That part has already been implemented. My wife and I are collaborating on a trilogy so I went ahead and did the beats for all three books. Now I just have to draft and revise. Ugh, revisions. That’s biggest hurdle I have to overcome to publish 8 books. That part of the process is painfully slow right now. I want to whittle it down to like one week for a full-length novel.
Writing 1,000,000 words requires consistency. I missed this bad boy by such a small amount that I’m kicking myself. But it’s nice to know that it’s not unrealistic. Looking at the number can be scary. ONE MILLION WORDS! Ahhh! But really, that’s only 2,740 words per day. So, at a minimum, I have to write first draft material for one hour every day. If I do that, I will overshoot my goal because I dictate more than that per hour.
At this point, I’m not sure what book I will submit to Kindle Scout. This will be an interesting experiment. There’s also no guarantee that I’ll get selected for publishing, but it’ll be fun to try.
The income goal will be a challenge, but with consistent releases and more total books, it’s well within reach.
Fitness. Right now, this is my white buffalo. The one that got away. I know what to do, how to do it, and the I have the equipment and time to get in shape. I just have to put it in my schedule every day and stick with it. Consistency. Just like writing.