Colin Dunbar

2019 in Review




I decided to stay with my plan to be transparent and honest in these annual reviews.

2019 was stressful, and exciting at the same time.

Workwise (i.e. the 9-5 job) the year started off shaky. On 31 January we received the official email that layoffs were being implemented. The normal corporate BS about streamlining, etc. In the email, the option of voluntary retrenchment was available.

I spoke to senior management, and there was no good news: the junior VP told me that my name was on the list (and suggested that I take voluntary retrenchment).

I first grabbed my pen and pad, and also opened a spreadsheet. My wife and I had lengthy chats, and looked at the numbers, and then the decision was made: take voluntary retrenchment.

19 February was my last working day. The day before my birthday.

I looked at my skillset, and began looking for freelance writing gigs. I also re-opened my book design service.

It was stressful.

The first highlight of the year was my son ( giving me a MacBook Pro for my birthday. It took some time getting used to working on a Mac, but I managed to get the hang of it.


The next highlight of the year was changing my website to WordPress, also thanks to Bronson. He designed the theme for me and set up the techie stuff.

I was super excited when the blog went live in September.

I decided to focus only on my personal site (blog), and didn’t start any new sites in 2019.


I published the second edition of How to Format Your Book in Word. Sales of the book were very low but (practically non-existent), but I cannot expect anything different, because I did very little to promote the book (primarily using Twitter and LinkedIn).


Goal Setting 101. This was a book that was gathering cyber dust on my hard drive. I resurrected it, and published it as a Kindle ebook.

Blank Page to Finished Book. I managed to finish the first draft of this book, and will be publishing it in 2020.

LWAD. This is a memoir I am helping a friend write. Because of the subject, it is going slow, and we hope to have it finished towards the end 2020.

60T. This is a new book I have started working on, and there’s still a long way to go.

IDEA. I have an idea for another short book, but at this stage that’s all it is: an idea.

Hobbytrepreneur. Although I finished Hobbytrepreneur, it wasn’t to see the light in 2018. It will be a rewrite, and I have no firm date as to when it will be done.

Word Book Templates. I published 3 fiction and 6 nonfiction Word book templates, including video tutorials.


Apart from my books, my writing was divided between:

Online Courses

After a couple of years of doing research, I eventually decided to take the step with creating online courses. This is thanks to the tremendous gift from my son.

To wet my feet with the video medium, I created 9 video tutorials for my Word book templates.

This was nerve-racking, mainly because I’ve always been a behind-the-scenes type of person. And I prefer writing to talking.

But times have changed, and I decided to take the plunge with online courses.

At the close of 2019, I have the scripts done for 6 online courses, and will start with them in early 2020.


actionBuddy for Writers. This is a productivity app for writers, and was a joint project between myself and Bronson. He went live with this in March. It is available for free when you sign up for my newsletter.

I opened an account at Independent Author Network, but no sales have come from that. I also signed up at Authors Den, and similarly, no sales.


In this area I had my toughest battle. I’m grateful that there were no major physical health issues. Mental health was a different story.

Being unemployed is stressful.

I continue to fight depression every day. As so many people have said, this is not something that’s just cured. It’s a catch 22 situation, where I want to progress, and then the feeling of hopelessness raises its ugly head.

I did a stint with antidepressants as prescribed by my GP, but after a few months I discarded the drugs.

I tried meditation for a couple of months, and although I believe there are tremendous benefits to meditating, I just couldn’t get into the habit. Towards the end of 2019 I researched Transcendental Meditation, and that looks like something I could get into.

The other [thing] I did was journaling. For a period of just over 3 months, I journaled every single day, and everyone who knew me said they could see and hear a difference in me. I then used myself as a human guinea pig, and stopped journaling. It wasn’t long and I was in that hole again. I returned to journaling, and it is something that I will continue to do into the future.

Something else that helped me was a 7-week CBT program that I did. I was amazed at how I discovered things about myself through the exercises. I plan to repeat the program again in the new year (and will probably do it 2 or 3 times a year).

Keeping busy, and my writing help me to counter the negativity and hopelessness of that damn fiend.

I understand how ignorant I was concerning depression, and only now appreciate the words of Martin H. Manser, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his boots.” There is still an enormous stigma attached to this, and ignorance is rife.

What I Read

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy (I re-read this book) ****

Building a StoryBrand by Dennis Miller (I will be “studying” this book) ****

Choose by Ryan Levesque (This is one of the (if not THE) most practical online business books I’ve read) ****

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff (Extraordinary book!) ****

Icarus by Deon Meyer (I struggled to get into this story but from about 2/3 it was typical Deon Meyer :o}) ***

Ultimate Survivor by Hykie Berg ***

Heinlein’s Rules: Five Simple Business Rules for Writing by Dean Wesley Smith ***

Private Gold by James Patterson (BookShots) ***

How to Write a Book by David Kadavy***

Think and Grow Rich – An annual re-read of this classic

First Blood by David Morrell **

Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell**

Book Blueprint by Jacqui Pretty

On Leopard Rock by Wilbur Smith (memoir) (This book is more like a mini autobiography) **

The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid by Pat F. Garrett (a Time-Life book I’ve had since 1981, and read it now for the first time)

Ikigai by Hector Garcia. This book was not what I expected, and I was very disappointed *

As part of my on-going research into self-published books, I buy these every now and then…

A Writer’s Guide to Creative Blogging Sub-title: Create the Writer’s Blog You’ve Always Wanted by Rebecca A Emrich & Paul Nieder

How to Write a Great ‘How To’ Book by Lisa T. Douglas  Uurrrrgggggh!

Goals for 2020

  1. Freelance writing. This is going to be my #1 priority.
  2. Online courses.
  3. Blank Page to Finished Book.

I only achieved two of my goals from 2019, and decided to scale down on my goals for 2020.


2019 was a tough year. I am tired.

But I will continue the fight, both materialistically and mentally. What’s the alternative?

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