My first fanfic was about me as an elf wandering through the vast wilderness of Middle Earth. I would always end up with a happily ever after with Legolas Greenleaf one way or another.
I was only writing short stories then for fun. I didn’t realize I was building my craft as a writer. I started writing longer fanfics and publishing them on Fanfiction.net.
I look at them now and would probably go, “WTF did I write?” You must start somewhere.
Then the flamers (trolls) came. Ugh.
I shrugged my shoulders at some rude comments and kept writing. Unfortunately, one troll told me I should die for my “awful” writing. I stopped writing for a few months.
My young, middle-school aged self wasn’t used to such brutal comments. And the troll was some dude from a community college in Florida. What kind of adult tells a kid to end their life?
Of course, I wasn’t let down enough to consider suicide. I was merely shocked.
I realized nobody’s a perfect writer. Everything you write will suck at the beginning. It’s all part of the writer’s path.
Fast forward to now, I’ve been writing in different areas: screenwriting, playwriting, and blogging. I didn’t consider writing fanfiction again until I started playing Overwatch.
There was a voice inside me repeatedly saying, “Girl, if you don’t start writing and quit playing around!” I turned off my PS4, stopped looming around Archives of Our Own, and began my first Overwatch fanfiction on Word.
Eventually, I opened a Tumblr account and posted the story there along with a few others.
The habit of writing and receiving feedback led to something remarkable. There are three surprises fanfiction gave me as a writer:
1. I Can Smash My Word Count Goals
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” -Louis D’Amour
It takes me longer to write a non-fiction article than a creative short story.
1,000-word fanfic? Piece of cake! With a detailed outline, I can write it in 35–45 minutes.
Writing about digital marketing or 25 ways one can use coconut oil? Uh, give me a couple more minutes (or a few hours).
Writing flow can work the same for both fiction and non-fiction writing. They both have a story to tell, even if it’s merely instructional.
My problem is over-thinking. I stopped this habit and focused on getting the words down on paper. Edit later.
So far, my new habits have worked.
2. Triggering My Dopamine the Right Way
“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.” — John Irving
Dopamine is your brain’s motivation booster. It’s the reason why you want to eat another piece of cake when you promised yourself only one. The first time you won first place running in a marathon, you want to do all over again.
Once you receive a good response, your mind craves more of it.
Dopamine kept me on the move from the likes and reblogs on my Tumblr page. Plus, personal requests were filling up my inbox.
One reader wanted a fluffy, comfort scene with Junkrat. Another wanted a sweet story about opening a bakery with Roadhog. Yeah, that’s the Overwatch fandom for you.
All this happening motivated me to be a daily writer. I started organizing my publishing times on Google calendar, same with Medium and other places I post online.
How I Created a Publishing Schedule with Google Calendar
Want to schedule your future articles and stories way in advance without the use of a dozen paper calendars? I feel…
It’s incredible how fanfiction has shaped me into a consistent writer.
3. Encourages Me to Write a Book Someday
“Write in fear until you have faith.” -Shane Black
For the longest time, my excuse for not writing a book was inserting character dialogue. In the beginning, I could never correctly format it in prose.
Fanfiction.net moderators caught me for writing dialogue in script form (thus my knack for scriptwriting was born). I stopped writing at the site for the freedom to write my way.
Now, I have no excuse for not writing a book. I can always read books, take online courses, and practice.
Besides, I ended up writing character dialogue in my fanfics anyway (holy crap). It was like I’ve been writing it since I was in my mother’s womb. I’m sure I’ve made a few mistakes, but it was much better than the dialogue in my 15-year old Lord of the Rings stories.
It’s all about applying what you’ve learned and reflecting on your mistakes. Never limit your writing possibilities!
Fanfiction is no joke. Your craving to write a fandom-based story has come out for a reason.
Do you want to create a story where your original character owns the Infinity Gauntlet or Daenerys Targaryen has a better ending than the canon TV show? Do it!
Fanfiction is still writing. Whatever you write repeatedly will turn you into a better writer.
Imagination will take you farther than your limiting beliefs.
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