#5onFri: Five Reasons for Writing Fanfiction

by CM McGuire
published in Writing

If you write, odds are you have a passion for storytelling. It’s the same creative passion that might push someone into the realm of insanity that is cosplaying, fanwork, or seeking an artistic career. Whether you produce creative content professionally or grind through a traditional 9-5, burnout is inevitable. If you’ve ever considered writing fanfiction, here are five reasons why you should:

Writing Fanfiction Helps You Follow Your Passion

I personally find writing fanfiction to be the perfect remedy for beating burnout, because you can focus on your passions. Writing fanfiction requires the writer to engage with their fandoms and, therefore, likely sources of inspiration to reignite their love of the medium. If not for a love of writing itself, it can provide something valuable to anyone: an escape. 

Writing Fanfiction Lets You Experiment

Fanfiction is the ultimate sandbox medium because you enter with all the sand you could possibly want to play with. You can comfortably borrow the rules of a world, a character, or a trope to play around and see what works. 

This isn’t just about experimenting with content (though, seriously, who hasn’t reimagined the Star Trek heroes as werewolves meeting in a space coffeeshop?) One of my favorite fics of all time showed the life of a beloved character through the perspective of his sweater. Drabbles and vignettes offered tiny slices of life that could be combined to hint at without ever directly seeing the larger picture. It’s also about experimenting with form and perspective. If you want to play with a different genre or length of story, fanfiction is a fun place to find out if it works for you. 

For this reason, fanfiction isn’t just the place to write out fantasies for your favorite fictional world. It’s the place where you can play with fiction and, if it doesn’t work, you can just try again next week. 

You Can Develop Your Personal Style

Writing fanfiction can also teach you more about yourself as an author. You’ll be working with characters you already know with established personality traits. So how do you, as a writer, show this? What differentiates you from other fanfiction authors? The more relaxed you are, the more you’ll write. The more you write, the easier it will be to discover what comes naturally to you and what you might need to work on a little more. 

Maybe you’re a first person writer. Maybe you’re third. Maybe you favor singular points of view. Maybe you jump around. Maybe it varies based on the story. There’s a great way to find out.

You Can Use Fanfiction as a Practical Classroom

Writing fanfiction is, to a degree, an interactive activity. Most people write it and post it online, which means encountering an audience. This can be terrifying, but it’s also a great way to acclimate to feedback. What do people respond to in your writing? What earns reviews and what doesn’t? Over time, it can also teach you to differentiate between helpful and unhelpful feedback. 

It’s also a great way to learn what people respond to in your writing. Writer are their own worst enemies. We’re often hardest on ourselves. Maybe a reader won’t review. Maybe they won’t like the story. Or maybe, just maybe, they’ll think it was so much better than we imagined.

It’s Low Stakes & Low Pressure

I don’t mean to say there is no pressure involved in fanfiction. If you become heavily involved in the community, there can certainly be an expectation to produce certain content in a certain time frame by readers who might be no kinder to you than to a published author. But here’s the most magical thing:

You are the only person you have to write for. 

Fanfiction has no financial incentive, so there is nothing forcing you to write or continue with something you no longer love. There is nothing stopping you from branching out or trying something new, from getting experimental or indulging in a beloved trope or cliché. 

If you tire of a fandom or discover a new passion, there’s no requirement for you to stay. In the end, we’re all storytellers. Why not indulge in a storytelling medium for which the reward is, ultimately, the story you tell?

CM McGuire is a born-and-raised Texan, where she still lives near family and with her two cats (aka the needy terrors who prevent her from working at home).

CM started writing at a young age, much to the relief of her mother, whose ears needed a break from her nonstop stories. It was her passion for stories that led her to pursuing a major in history, minors in theater, and anthropology, and onto her current masters in Creative Writing. It also led her to her membership in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. 

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