Some thoughts on being a fanfiction writer
1) Never let anyone tell you that being a fanfiction writer is bad. The Bronte sisters wrote fanfiction about the Duke of Wellington and they just happened to also release beautiful books like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights - it’s not a new art form, and it’s not a bad quality one either.
2) Fanfiction is a great way to write when you don’t have your own characters yet. Simply being able to say ‘what if this happened’ and then write it gives you a real understanding of plot, and more flexibility when it eventually comes to the world you will create.
3) Fanfiction allows you to write lots and lots of words without even realising what you’re doing. Did you know the first Harry Potter book was 76, 944 words? If you can write near that amount, imagine what you could do if you created your own universe.
4) You have been practising your craft all along. Even if you started recently, you’ve been practising and improving your writing. Read the first thing you ever put up and read what you’ve most recently written - I bet you’ve improved.
5) However, you are not limited to writing fanfiction, no matter how hard it can seem to break free from the limits you have put on yourself. You want your own world to play with, but you feel like you don’t have the creativity to do so. Sound familiar? Well you’re wrong when you say you don’t have the creativity to create your own world.
6) You’re comfortable with characters you are familiar with, right? Well, become familiar with your own characters. Start simple - what do they look like? What’s their name, what age are they, what’s their job? Imagine what they’d do in situations you’re in. With a little bit of work, you’ll be as familiar with them as you are with your fanfiction characters.
7) Maybe making a world is harder, but you don’t need to begin with your own Hogwarts or Middle Earth. Set it where you live, and if you get bored of that, then set your sights higher. The only limit you have is your confidence.
8) Let other people read it. The chances are, with your fanfiction, you’ve posted it somewhere and people have read it and given you feedback. There’s no reason to stop that now - show a friend, put it on a blog, send it in here, or you can even send it in to literary magazines and journals. But spread your work so you can get feedback.
9) You don’t need to write a novel. Start with a bit of flash fiction, a short story, or in fanfiction terms, a one-shot. But if you want to write some original fiction, starting with a novel can be daunting, so start small and increase to that.
10) You can still write fanfiction. Writing isn’t black and white between fanfiction and original work, and it hasn’t been for years. Did anyone else watch Death Comes to Pemberley or Dickensian? Just because it’s on tv doesn’t mean it’s not fanfiction, and just because you have the capability to write your own stuff doesn’t mean you can’t write about other worlds any more. As they say, the only limit is your imagination.