Goal Crushing on TAPIF: Novel Edition

Steps to writing a novel:

  1. Come up with an idea
  2. Vomit all over your computer (or your notebook if you prefer to write by hand) until you have a first draft, because that’s exactly what a first draft is, WORD VOMIT

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Now you might be saying: “Wait, Emily, what did you do this month?”

WELL, let me tell you.

There is this thing called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo that occurs every year in November. It’s a “contest” to write 50,000 words in one month.

So I did it. I wrote more than 50,000 words in a month.

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Here are my stats for the month: as you can see for most of the month I was either slightly behind or right on track. I hit 50,000 on the 27th of November 🙂 

I also “won” NaNoWriMo three years ago when I was studying abroad in Paris. I’ve also done a “camp NaNo,” which is essentially the same thing, making this the 3rd time I’ve completed a “Novel Writing Month.”

What I’ve learned from completing my 3rd NaNoWriMo* (if you’re a stickler this was technically only my 2nd November, but I completed Camp NaNo with the exact same 50,000 word count goal this past July)

  1. The key to attaining any goal is consistency and practice.

I have to admit. This month I didn’t know what half the plot of my novel was. I knew who the characters were (kind of–I only had half of their names picked out) and I knew there were going to be some sort of demons… and that was about it.

AND what kept me going, what kept me from getting “stuck” was to JUST WRITE. Sit down in front of my computer and click keys. Even if that meant I was just musing about my plot and characters or actually moving my characters through the story as long as I was putting words to the page I was making progress.

And that’s it.

Consistency.

You can’t finish a novel if you’re not willing to put in consistent daily work to finish it. –I would know, I have a silly little unfinished novel from middle school sitting in my bedroom at my parent’s house.

You: “So what’d you write about?”

Me: “Um, well, it’s Urban Fantasy, with a female protagonist, demons, and a blood splatter of romance… uh, here have a picture:”

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This is what we’d call a Novel Aesthetic. Basically a collection of photos I found that I feel describe my characters and my novel. 

You: “Wow that looks so cool!

Me: “Why thank you!

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You: “When can I read it??

Me: “Uh…

As I said at the beginning. First drafts are WORD VOMIT. The hardest thing in my opinion is writing the first draft. Getting the skeleton of the novel down. Then my writing process is to go back and add layers, add in some more three dimensionality to my characters, give people chemistry, intensify feelings, up the stakes, MAKE SURE THINGS ARE COHERENT. (Because I promise you when I reread this first draft something in it is going to make me, the author, go WTF)

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Same Rumple. I don’t know what I did to my main characters either, I blame it on the wine I drank while writing. 

So EDITING will come in the next several months. (So ask again in a couple of months if you still want to read it)

But moving on.

My work week during TAPIF (Teaching English in France) is 12 hours. So before I said yes to this program I knew I had to have plans for my alllll my other free hours so I wouldn’t waste a year watching Netflix. (So if you’re reading this blog and considering TAPIF, I highly suggest making a solid plan to fill up your free time productively!!)

So my goal has been to fill that with writing.

I’ve written/almost finished two whole novels in my first two months.

I’d say I’m crushing that goal pretty hard. 🙂

(Now back to the grindstone. I’m going to Berlin… tomorrow, so I’ve got some work to do!) Just wanted to give a tiny update to remind everyone I’m alive!

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That Isn’t Too Heavy For You?*

*(And other things I hear while lifting weights at a gym in France)

Since I’ve arrived my teacher contact has been taking me with her to her gym in Dreux. It’s a tiny two room gym with a weightlifting section, two treadmills, two bikes, one rowing machine, and one or two ellipticals. In the second room is a wide open space where they hold classes.

To give you guys a little bit of a background I lift weights *at least* once a week and have been doing so for over a year. And when I say lift weights I don’t mean the little 2-5 pound weights. I’m talking about thirty to a couple hundred pounds depending on the exercise/machine. That plus I’m a yoga instructor so I’m no stranger to fitness. (I promise I’m not trying to brag haha I just feel a little defensive as a girl in a gym where there aren’t really other girls who lift)

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The first day my teacher brought me to a Body Pump class (which exists in English too, you can check it out here) It’s basically a high rep class that uses a bar with weights and you hit every part of the body with squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench presses, tricep dips, abs, etc etc.

My first day was a little confusing just because it took me a little while to get used to the vocabulary. (Add more weight, take weight off, release, etc)

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But at the end of the class we did “stretching” and well… I stretched like a proper yogi.

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I swear this is absolutely normal for me/isn’t something I consider to be extreme or strenuous at all. I don’t get much of a stretch if I don’t go down this far haha

But then it was great because while everyone was freaking out about my extreme stretching thinking I was about to hurt myself… I got to speak to them in French and tell them I was a yoga instructor.

Then the next time I went there a couple days later for a crossfit class. I’d never done crossfit in my life before, but I walked into the class and the coach loaded up my bar for me. And the great thing is he didn’t go easy, he put easily twice as much weight on my bar as any other girl in the room.

And that’s pretty much when I knew I’d be sticking with this gym.

It was honestly the best thing ever because as a girl who lifts weights, sometimes guys just tend to underestimate you/look down on you and think you can’t actually lift. And considering that culturally in France girls are even LESS likely to lift weights/do sports I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the people in the gym were!

That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of strange incidents. I think everyone knows that there’s a redhead American at the gym now so they all come to talk to me while I’m working out. (As in like in the middle of my leg press reps…) And maybe it’s just the culture at this particular gym, but when someone new walks in they shake hands with every single person they pass (without introducing themselves sometimes awkwardly enough) I think I prefer the head nod culture in the states.

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Voila. All the interaction you get at a gym in the US. 

Whereas in France you do “La Bise”

This is what it’s supposed to look like:

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Oh and don’t forget to make a kiss noise for each cheek

Except you go down the line and do this with EVERY SINGLE PERSON. And when I’m at the gym sometimes I feel like this:

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I’m sweaty! You don’t want my cheek sweat, I don’t want your cheek sweat!

But regardless of odd introductions:

Just last week a guy told me:

“Oh you’re flexible, but you’re not that strong.”

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Pretty much my exact reaction right here

I straight up told him: “That’s an insult. You insulted me.”

Him: “No! I said you’re flexible! You know the word flexible! Like elastic!”

Me: “Yes. I understand your French. But it was the stuff you said after that.”

Him: “Oh yeah, you’re not strong. That’s not an insult!”

Me: (fuming) “Uh, yes it is.”

But the bright side is I told the coach about what he said and he told everyone in the gym and they all thought it was an insult too. So at least its not a cultural thing! There are jerks everywhere I suppose.

The main reason I’m writing a blog post on my gym though is because I’ve started teaching yoga there! In FRENCH!

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First time I’ve ever taught a class with more guys than girls… but it IS after Crossfit!

It’s been a little crazy, but it’s been going super well. I’m grateful for everyone at the gym for dealing with my eternal American accent when speaking French!

But yeah. So the gym has turned into my social life haha I go every day I can. Everyone there knows me and tries to talk to me (insults or not haha) and at the very least the Coach who teaches all the classes respects me haha.