Tag Archives: Writing

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

giphy (11)

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.

giphy (12).gif

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 3.56.04 PM
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:”

IMG_7224.JPG
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!

rwppv_s-200x150.gif

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)

5097d55985136ec473f551beb32d7728877d07c5e764e64201eda25ef220fff1
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!

Advertisements

Mama I made it!

Welcome to Dreux:

IMG_6460
View over the center of town on a very cloudy day
IMG_6405
The belfry at the center of town–the cafe with the red tents has the cutest little terrace in the back and they have cheap wine!

I’ve tried to condense the last week into a series of bullet points to make it as easy to read as possible. SO much has happened!

  1. I moved in

When I got off the plane I had the most massive customs line ever waiting for me (like seriously it took 45 minutes), but once all of that was over my teacher contact from my high school was waiting for me just on the other side! I’m really lucky that I didn’t have to navigate Paris with two suitcases to get to the train station because then she tucked me into her car and we drove to Dreux.

Then she gave me the low-down on all the gossip of the school the hour drive we had and when we arrived at the school she dragged me inside to meet the Principal (Le Proviseur) and half of the administrative team. Who were all quite nice and tbh I didn’t remember half of their names because I was so jet lagged. And then she brought me to my room.

Basically I’m living in the student dorms. They’ve reserved a couple rooms for teachers. It’s a tiny bit bigger than a dorm room, but not by much, but I have my own bathroom and a communal kitchen I’ll share with another language assistant and the nighttime workers who stay awake to make sure all the kids are in bed and asleep at curfew. All this is fine because it’s free. 

Yes you read that right. I won the jackpot in this town.

2. Welcome dinner

On Thursday my contact from the high school organized a welcome dinner at the Italian restaurant in town & I was able to meet many of the people who work there. (And not just the English teachers) I sat next to the science teacher who also participates in National Novel Writing Month each November so we ended up talking about books quite a lot, the teacher across from me had fun trying to make me say as many French cuss words as possible, and I drank soo much wine.

I was so happy I was able to speak with people, outside of the work context and just have normal conversations *IN FRENCH.* I find there’s always a little “trial” period when new people try to figure out if I actually do speak French before they try to speak to me, but at least I got a lot of that out of the way at dinner!

3. I’ve adopted a cafĂ©

giphy-7

Dreux doesn’t have a Starbucks. It’s that tiny, but it does have a cute little coffee shop that I’ve been to… 5 out of the 7 days I’ve been here already. The second day I came in they gave me a rewards card… and I’m over halfway already… oops?

The employees all know me… probably as the American, but well that’s fine.  Plus the food/coffee/wifi is great there.

Oh did I mention that I don’t have wifi where I live?

Yeah, they don’t want the students staying up all night on the internet. I’ve got a little bit of data with my international phone plan, but for now if I need to do any heavy internet use I have to come to this cafĂ©.

Besides internet surfing I have gotten quite a bit of writing done there too!

IMG_6481
How could I not get writing done in a place like this?

 

4. I still haven’t started work yet.

We had our teacher’s meeting in OrlĂ©ans yesterday, which was really really boring.

AkkpP
It might have been useful… If I hadn’t already lived in France before, so I felt a little like Hermione. #beentheredonethat

They didn’t give us any new information or give us any instruction on how to work with students. To me it seemed like a meet and greet more than anything, but at least there was free coffee?

But yeah, I’m not sure when I’ll actually go into the classroom for the first time, so we shall see. Tomorrow maybe?

5.  Phone companies suck.

giphy

I’ll just leave that one as is.

Compared to living in Paris I already love this city more. I don’t feel quite so anonymous here & I’ll be able to get to know people better I think because I see the same people every single day–even walking on the street!

There’s so much more that’s happened that just couldn’t fit into one blog post! If you’re interested in keeping up with me this year, click subscribe!

I’m Moving to France!

Hi World,

It’s Emily here… two years later and I’m graduating college in… three weeks?!

hello-its-me-i-was-wondering-if-after-all-these-2648917

And I’m reviving the blog because I’M MOVING TO FRANCE AGAIN!!

giphy

I have been accepted to the TAPIF program which is a teaching assistant job in France. All I know about where I will be right now is that I have been placed in the AcadĂ©mie of OrlĂ©ans-Tours. It’s that giant region under Paris.

 

The “AcadĂ©mies” of France aka the academic departments.

This region is also the châteaux region of France and home of the Lorie Valley (think wine and awesome cheese). It was one of my top picks for regions and I am so excited to be going back!

I will find out my specific city placement sometime in June/July.

This decision was not an easy one as I had been contemplating a more permanent job here in the states that would have assured me a connection to my yoga community (oh yeah I’ve become a certified yoga instructor by the way so get ready for a whole year of yoga pictures across France and Europe) which is something that I’ve come to value profoundly this year.

IMG_4935
Just a casual spring break sunrise headstand…

And then I realized, this teaching contract is only for SEVEN months! I’m not abandoning the permanent job or my yoga community – they will still be there when I come back.

This decision has ultimately been one of love and passion. I have many friends (soul sisters, best travelling buddies ever, and some friendship that were so hard to speak about aloud I created a blog for them) in Europe that I feel a profound connection and love for and the thought of never seeing them again has brought me to tears over and over. THIS is my opportunity to see them again and spend quality time with them one on one without the pressure of a job or a family to get back to.

THIS is my opportunity to write novel number two and maybe! get novel number one published.

Ultimately, I’ve realized that out of both decisions I would most likely come to regret the decision not to return to France. So here’s to living abroad and being nearly broke for the next year – that 40 hour grind can wait one more year 🙂

Until then… I won’t be going anywhere until September!

I invite you to catch up on all the adventures I had while studying abroad in 2014-2015 and follow me along this amazing adventure next year. Please subscribe (click Follow blog via email in the column on the LEFT!) to receive this blog’s updates via email! Also, I love getting feedback so please comment!

 

What was Emily doing all November?

Truth? I was in my lovely Parisian apartment… writing.

Writing like a madman... or a novelist.
Writing like a madman… or a novelist.

This past month I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) If you haven’t heard of it, check out the website. It’s basically a personal contest/challenge to write 50,000 words in a month. The organization has been running this “contest” for over a decade and I’ve been wanting to participate for the last several years but never found the time, until now.

My progress through the month
My progress through the month. I hit 50,000 on the 26th!

Of course you might say “Why the heck would she decide to write a novel when she’s living in Paris? That would be such a waste of time!”

Did it take a lot of time? Of course. I usually spent at least 2 hours a night writing, but to call it a waste of time would be wrong.

I wrote a novel in Paris.

200

Writing a novel has always been something I’ve wanted to do and something I have even attempted several times. I have word documents full of story ideas and even a 35,000 word attempt from back in middle school. (For all you non-Americans when I was like 12) So when I say I’ve wanted to write a novel my entire life, I mean it.

And writing a novel in Paris was a bucket list item too tempting to be missed. Paris, the same city where Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Oscar Wilde, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, George Orwell  were all inspired and wrote their timeless masterpieces.

So November 3rd, I sat down, already three days late and started writing. 23 days later I’d broken the goal of 50,000 words and I took a little break.

Then I continued writing slowly and I had reached the last scene of my novel when I had to leave to catch a plane to Prague. I don’t think I’ve ever been more upset to travel.

So. Close.
So. Close. Just one more hour!

 

Prague was absolutely amazing (blog post to come) but as soon as I returned (and had a nice long nap) I sat down to finish the last few scene of my still unnamed work full of vampires, werewolves, witches, and one very strange tattoo.

Is it a masterpiece?

Not in the slightest. It’s a first draft full of mistakes and I spent the entire month ignoring my inner editor and writing down things I will need to go back and change, but only after I finished my first draft.

I spent most of the month in my room as I said earlier, but don’t worry because I still worked in a day trip to Versailles, a comedic play, and the Christmas markets of Paris. So I wasn’t a total shut in.

tumblr_m6bgh5DEv11rziwwco2_500

 

Now I’m going to go write some papers, study for finals and enjoy my last few weeks TEN DAYS in Paris before I head home for Christmas. (And then come back a few weeks later of course)

Now here’s one last obnoxious victory gif:

I WROTE A NOVEL GUYS. AN ACTUAL NOVEL.
I WROTE A NOVEL GUYS. AN ACTUAL NOVEL.

Don’t miss a single blog post of my entire adventure! Please subscribe (click Follow blog via email in the column on the right!) to receive this blog’s updates via email! Also, I love getting feedback so please comment!