For pretty much any writer, November is known to us as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It's the time of the year we challenge ourselves to write at least a 50,000-word novel in only 30 days. In the midst of this month, the challenges lie within time and creativity.
It's the reason that we find ourselves planning for NaNoWriMo at least two months before it starts. We participate in workshops, read prep books, and do character and plot prep for our novel.
Its why I found myself in September struggling with the idea of writing a full novel for this month. Yes, I had the idea for the plot and the characters all lined out, but I just wasn't feeling that my heart was completely in it. The thing we all know as writers is that if your heart isn't in it, you shouldn't be writing it right now.
Although, the one thing that my brain (and heart) kept circling back to were my current fanfiction ideas. My love for fandom, television shows, and books consistently leave me with ideas for a different or desired story that doesn't originally take place. Its why I decided I was going to write fanfiction for this NaNoWriMo and realized there were many reasons to do so.
1. Fanfictions (or multiple fanfictions) can be just as long as a novel.
A fanfiction can sometimes be the full length of a novel. And those are truly some of the best ones I've read.
A large amount of the fanfictions I've read over the years have been as long as a full-length novel. While the minimum goal of NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words, fanfiction can have the potential to go above and reach 100,000 words or more. This also applies to one-shots since some are able to be expanded beyond their original premise. A not fully formed novel idea may leave you struggling to reach the minimum. However, a fully formed novel idea can leave you achieving more than you bought you could.
2. Fanfiction writing can take as much planning as a novel.
Planning is a part of writing, even for fanfiction.
If you think that fanfiction required planning, that's far from the truth. It may already be in an established universe with established characters, but there are other things that require planning. For one, the plot requires planning time. It has to be outlined just as would with a novel. There are also times when one introduces an original character into the story. The original character is a creation of your own and requires a bit of outlining in regards to their role in the story and interaction with already established characters. In addition, alternate universe/scenario stories are the fanfictions that can cause you to dive into a bit of research. Let's say, you're going to place modern characters in the setting of the 1950s. It's going to lead to you researching the time period. This way you're still practicing the skills of planning and research, while also getting to chance to write fanfiction.
3. The universe and characters of the story are already created.
The beauty of fanfiction is that is allows you to play with characters you love, but also achieve a writing goal.
This reason here is what gives a slight advantage to fanfiction writing. As discussed in the previous point, fanfiction requires planning. Even though you may not be creating characters or the verse, you still have to plan to remain in it. If you know fanfiction well enough, you'll know that doing OOC (out of character) writing is an essential no-no. The reader is still expecting their character to remain the same, just seeing them in a different story/scenario. The establishments can seem like a slight advantage, but it's also the thing that makes it hard. Although, it does provide a challenge that can make your writing stronger in the future.
4. Fanfiction can give you instant feedback.
Feedback is essential to becoming a better writer and learning your audience. It comes even faster in this form.
If there's one thing we could use, it's a confidence boost. The majority of the time when someone writes a novel, they work to have that novel published (and yes, sometimes it's online). From there, you have to wait for a reader to find your novel and then receive feedback. However, when writing fanfictions you typically post them online when finished or by chapter (update). Readers find them instantly by searching for stories in the tag and if you're lucky, leave comments and kudos. Of course, while there are negative comments, the majority can be positive. It's these comments that can improve your skills as a writer, especially if they come in the form of a good critique. Also, other fanfiction writers are willing to provide feedback in the form of a beta.
5. It gives you time to plan original material.
If you feel lost on one project, another one just may spur some ideas.
While working on another project, it can begin to help flow the creative process of another one.The fanfiction can help to influence the original material. The thing you may have been stuck on during planning may finally be solved while writing about another character or story. It's true that the characters we already know can subconsciously affect our own original characters.
In the meanwhile, you get to achieve some writing and a get a start on the next project.
It's these various reasons that allow me to believe I'll be satisfied at the end of November. Instead of focusing on a half-prepared project, I will have finally achieved completing already existing ideas that have been stirring around for a long time. Fanfiction writing is just as real as novel writing. There are times where I've been excited for a fanfiction as much as I was for a novel. I've spent many nights staying up late reading both fanfiction and novels alike. Others may be quick to dismiss fanfiction, but you should try it before you knock it. It has the potential to have as large an impact as any novel, and can even be the beginning of an author's career.
I love fanfiction and this is the perfect time to perfect the thing I love.