How I Transitioned from Writing Fan Fiction to Writing Novels

There seems to be this stigma that comes with writing fan fiction. A stigma of, “Those people are dorks who spend way too much time involved in a fandom for something that isn’t real.”

That’s only partially true. And the same can be said for novel writers.

The other truth is that those who write fan fiction are still writing. They are still part of a community, learning and growing. Especially if writing is what they want to do with their lives. Some are more successful with it than others, but writing fan fiction is where I started my journey. I used to be “in deep.” I wrote Star Trek (which nobody ever saw) and Supernatural stories which I did post on sites like Wattpad and Archive of our Own.

I used to be “in deep.” I wrote Star Trek (which nobody ever saw) and Supernatural stories which I did post on sites like Wattpad and Archive of our Own.

As a child of the 90s it initially took a lot for me to learn to not hide behind a username. I’m a real person, not a “keyboard warrior.” Heck I even did those message boards back when the Internet was still a teenager itself. (Yeah, I’m older than the Internet). When I first began this website three years ago I definitely hid behind the AnotherHartmanAuthor name. While it’s still part of this site’s identity I realized that, if I wanted to seem more credible and approachable, people would want to know my name.

Having your name known in the writing community is, I think, something that many writers want but don’t admit out loud. We want our stories to be read by others. Perhaps we want to be as popular as R.L Stein, J.K. Rowling, Lewis Carroll, Stephen King, James Patterson and all those others. That’s only a small part of why I switched from fan fiction to novels.

I got frustrated with the fan fiction culture. When it felt like stories centered around abusive relationships and smut were getting all the attention, here I am in my own little corner attempting to not include any cussing whatsoever in my stories. It was like I couldn’t find anyone who felt the same so the aforementioned sites did end up leaving a bitter taste in my mouth.

Then again, that may have been partially my fault as well. If you don’t actually have a good story, it’s not going to gain traction in that kind of environment. But, Leigh…a lot of crap stories get traction! Yes, yes, I know that. I understand that. Writing is an imperfect and highly subjective field.

Then again, that may have been partially my fault as well. If you don’t actually have a good story, it’s not going to gain traction in that kind of environment.

And you know what? I’ve learned to just roll with it. To have a thick skin. No matter if you’re writing fan fiction or full on novels, you have to understand that everyone is going to have an opinion, for better or for worse, about your writing potential.

When I took the leap from fan fiction to novels I realized that didn’t solve any of my problems. I still have trouble finishing stories. I still chronically underwrite and it still takes me forever to actually write them.

But now I know things like outlining, editors, and agents exist. I know there are outlets, support groups and local library groups focused on discussing techniques and actual writing. I didn’t know about or have these things before so of course it felt like I was alone. The only one going through stuff like self-doubt, frustration and writing induced depression.

I am not alone, and neither are you. Whether you write fan fiction or you’re trying that old school traditional publishing route, you are not alone. Neither one is better than the other. The point is – you ARE writing. Whether it’s about Star Trek or Supernatural. Your favorite members in a kpop band or a historical story you can’t get your mind off.

Write. Write just for you. Technique and writing for others can come later. If you have a story to tell, then TELL it.

If you have a story to tell, then TELL it.

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