Today, I’m glad to have author Brianna Tibbetts to share her insights on how writing fanfiction keeps her productive in her own writing!
From Brianna Tibbets:
When I discovered fan fiction was a thing in 2011, I didn’t think I’d ever want to write it. I read it on occasion, mostly to fill in holes in character development left behind by existing franchises I loved, but I couldn’t have imagined writing it myself. Then, in December of 2012, the BBC show Merlin ended. I loved the finale, but felt distinctly unsatisfied. There was so much I wished had happened, but none of it would ever be addressed, because the show was over. So, I wrote my first fan fiction to get it all out of my system. Less than two hours later, I had five thousand words about two of my favorite characters on my laptop screen. Writing fan fiction was much easier than I’d expected.
I repeated this process a few more times before I realized what was happening every time I wrote fan fiction. Without fail, whenever I sat down to churn out a few thousand words about someone else’s characters, story, and setting, I would spend the next few weeks or even months being just as productive with my own original works. It didn’t matter how frustrated with my own book-in-progress I’d been when I decided to work on a fan fiction instead. When I was done playing in someone’s else’s sandbox, I could build elaborate castles in my own sandbox with ease.
I wouldn’t tell you I’m a victim of writer’s block. I don’t tend to get stuck so much as I get burned out. I end up tired of my characters, my story, and my setting. When I get tired of my book, I can’t fathom finishing it, because if I’m bored, anyone who reads the final product will be too. When I was younger and less aware of this mindset within myself, I was prone to abandoning projects when I felt I’d exhausted any creative energy attached to them. I didn’t realize that was something I had the ability to replenish.
When I write fan fiction, I’m working within an established world that’s got a lot to draw from. There’s very little I have to come up with on my own in order to craft a reasonably compelling tale. Most of my fan fiction doesn’t see the light of day, but what does always earns a rather encouraging amount of praise. It’s reassuring when I’ve just been staring at my original manuscript, feeling doubtful about my abilities. I don’t have to spend a lot of creative energy to write fan fiction. Mostly, it’s fun. It’s revisiting characters and places I loved and getting to explore opportunities with them that the original creator never did. When I’m done, inevitably I find my creative energies rejuvenated, and I can return to my own manuscript inspired and eager to continue.
I think a lot of people will tell you that fan fiction is therapeutic for them, whether they mean reading it or writing it. There’s a satisfaction in following a story thread to completion that a book or television show left hanging. The way in which fan fiction is therapeutic will vary for everyone, but I’ve always found it to impact my creative drive more than anything else. I enjoy writing and reading fan fiction, and sometimes I’ll do it just because I want to. More than anything else though, I do it to restore my joy for writing so I can dive back into my own stories. In the back of my head, there’s also a little voice wondering if someday, worlds I’ve created will be a sandbox for other writers to come play in.
Raised on a steady diet of rich fiction, novelist Brianna Tibbetts has been writing exciting, speculative worlds as long as she can remember. Currently based in the Pacific Northwest, she reads voraciously and writes extensively. In everything from short stories to series, Brianna demonstrates her passion for lively stories infused with faith. In addition to writing, her other superpowers include being ginger and yarn crafting. When she isn’t spending time in her own creations, she loves indulging in the fictional worlds of others. She is the author of The Knight in Battered Armor, a children’s chapter book, and she is a Marketing Research Assistant for Uncommon Universe Press.