(Significant Otter) Greg: What are you doing?
Erin: Researching for a new book idea
Greg: You have too many book ideas already
Erin: That’s just how it works
Greg: No, that’s how YOU work. And YOU don’t get any actual WORK done
He knows me so well.
It’s true, I have too many book concepts rolling around in my skull, four with fully formed plots at the moment. And while the ideas are always whispering and demanding my attention, I rarely get to work on them. Yes I’m working full time and getting my master’s, but I do find time to write…just not on the important stuff. Instead of working on the novels, I spend my free time writing fanfiction.
I started writing at a young age (tip: don’t read your EARLY work, stuff of nightmares). While I don’t remember, my Mother remembers reading my stories and being annoyed at how I always left off chapters with a cliffhanger (some things never change, huh?). My friend and I would write each other stories, usually with favorite band members as the main characters. This was before I knew fanfiction was an actual THING. And while it probably wasn’t my best work (let’s not kid ourselves), it was how I developed my style and confidence.
For those of you who haven’t ever read/written fanfiction, give it a try. It’s frivolous and fun. Some call it plagiarism, for the use of someone else’s characters, but I think it’s a healthy way for writers to experiment, it’s not like they’ll be publishing this stuff (unless you’re one of those people.. [Don’t be those people]).
Fanfiction has been a great way to boost my confidence and keep my writing skills sharp, but it has also been a crutch. I’ve gotten too comfortable in my fanfiction fort. I don’t have to develop my characters too intensely, I really don’t have to expand upon the world, and I don’t have to worry about getting rejected (comments are great instant gratification). Let’s face it, fanfiction is sort of like training wheels. I’m still riding my author bike, just not with the big kids.
It’s time to actually write these novels, but every time I sit down with real intentions, I get scared. I’m scared the end product won’t be as good as it is in my head, my magnum opus. But not writing doesn’t solve that problem. I have to write it and write it again and edit and share it for it to turn into something interesting. I always say art is like a muscle, you need to practice to make it good. So it’s time to practice without the training wheels.