Welcome to my March 2018 Project Report. My goal with these monthly reports is to help other authors, entrepreneurs, leaders, or anyone else who wants to make an impact through their work. Each month I will share how I spent my time as an author and creative entrepreneur and the successes, failures, and lessons I learned along the way.
How I Spent My Time in March 2018
I track every minute of time I spend working on projects using an app called Toggl (here is why). Here is a list of the projects I spent the most time on last month:
- 15:44 – Public Speaking (Los Angeles Religious Education Congress)
- 13:11 – The Religion Teacher Email
- 10:30 – The Daily Learning Log (archive)
- 8:30 – Fiction Writing
- 6:24 – Tax Preparation
- 5:23 – The Religion Teacher’s Catholic Mass Worksheets
- 4:44 – The Religion Teacher Membership January Launch (shipping books)
- 3:58 – Morning Preview
- 3:57 – Weekly Review
- 2:36 – The Evangelization Stack Online Workshop
Total Time Spent: 100:41
Here is what I produced last month:
- Worksheets: 15
- Articles/Blog Posts: 31
- Newsletter Emails: 23
- Videos: 1
- Books: 9,322 words
- Workshops & Webinars: 3
2018 Goal Update
I used to focus only on mission and vision and not specific performance goals for the year. I’m trying something different this year and setting some big goals for myself as a entrepreneurial author. You can find my goals here. This is the progress I made so far:
56% Progress / double the number of members TRTm members (audacious goal)
0/5,000 copies sold of Christ in the Classroom (good/great)
0/1 published work of fiction (good)
3/7 paid speaking gigs (expected)
16/50 Read 50 books (good goal)
50% Paid Off / Pay off mortgage in 2020 (good goal)
Best: 00:00 / Run a 5K under 23:00 (good goal)
Start a support ministry for startup founders. (expected goal)
You can read about the process I used to set these goals along a scale of success here: A Simple Process for Setting Bigger Goals.
March 2018 Highlights and Lessons Learned
2018 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress
The Los Angeles Religious Education Congress is the biggest event of the year for me. I was honored to give a presentation on each day of the conference this year. I presented two workshops and served on a panel with Fr. Michael White (Rebuilt) and Sherry Wedell (Forming Intentional Disciples). All three presentations went very well.
When I wasn’t speaking, I spent my time in the Ave Maria Press booth and got to meet a number of people who follow my work. I love meeting people in person who say they feel like they know me from subscribing to my email list or attending my webinars. It makes all that work so worth it.
It is hard to be away from family for so long, but this really is an incredible event.
One thing I did not expect as my side business grew each year was the amount of work it is to organize and prepare taxes. I hired a local accountant to file the forms for the last five years or so, but it still takes me many hours of gathering materials to file taxes. Like a lot of authors I have multiple streams of income, but that means lots of extra forms to collect and fill out during tax time.
I cannot thank Mike Michalowicz enough for his book, Profit First. Because of him, I channel the revenue from my business income each month into multiple buckets according to pre-determined percentages. I only pay myself 45% (plus 5% profit) of the revenue each month. I keep shifting the percentages around, but I need to set aside about 30% of the revenue for taxes and pay quarterly (which is never enough). They don’t teach you about the self-employment tax growing up!
I need to think more strategically about taxes next year and hope to come up with a better plan for 2018.
Last month I started taking my fiction writing more seriously. The first thing I do in the afternoon when I sit down to work for the first time is write. I filled that writing block of time with fiction in March.
I’m excited to share more about my fiction journey this year. I have been thinking about it a lot and trying new things. I started the year thinking I would write fantasy and science fiction and I realized more and more that the contribution I wanted to make in those genres was for kids rather than adults. It didn’t take me long to realize that I am drawn to sci-fi and fantasy works for young adults and middle grades. As a teacher, this is a much more natural transition from nonfiction anyway.
So, I started the month working on a novel about an elf in a human school. It was inspired by a drawing one of my daughters made while during her sister’s basketball game. A few chapters in, though, I set it aside. The main character was brooding and angry with everyone. I didn’t like him and didn’t enjoy creating the world as much as I thought I would.
Half-way through the month, I started thinking about developing a platform in fiction and I realized I wanted to find stories that helped form character and virtue in young people.
I came up with the name “Formative Fiction.”
A natural format for Formative Fiction is fables (wow, that is a lot of f’s)! So, I’ve been writing fables for the last month and I have found it gives me a great opportunity to practice storytelling.
The biggest lesson I learned–or more accurately re-learned–was that you can do anything with a little practice. I had so many doubts at the beginning of this year about writing fiction. I had zero experience with it. I have found, though, that practicing not only makes me a better writer, it makes me a more confident writer. I won’t claim that the fables I’ve written are good, but they are enabling me to get better.
You have to think about these kinds of projects from a ten-year perspective. The practice I put in now is going to build the foundation for many more years of hard work and growth.
The Religion Teacher’s Catholic Mass Worksheets
After a few months, I finally finished the worksheets to help teach about the Catholic Mass. I am going to launch them in April before the end of the school year.
I’ve created and published around 300 worksheets in the last few years and I’m looking forward to the response these get. They will help a lot of young people make meaningful, personal connections between what they pray and do and their everyday lives.
Creating these worksheets and writing books and stories are very similar. You have to create something from nothing. You start with a blank page, find a kernel of an idea, then start creating something. Day after day of going through this process adds up until you have a vast body of work and people start to think of you as “prolific.”