I would rather write one-hundred thousand words of fan fiction than ten-thousand words of “original” fiction. Is it because I have fewer ideas for original stories? Is it because I prefer the writing process with fan fiction, or that writing fan fiction is in someway easier? Nope, nope, and not at all. The key is motivation – let me explain:
Ten-thousand words of a novel is ten-thousand words of a novel. It’s not a complete novel. Unfinished as it is, no one wants to read it*. And, generally speaking, you shouldn’t want to show it to people before it’s ready anyway. Posting it online severely lowers your chance of getting it accepted by a traditional publishing house. While giving friends and family a sneak peak can be a blessing or a curse, and there’s no way to tell until it’s too late.
So, basically, you’re left with ten-thousand words to worry over. Is it good enough? Will people like it? Even if you’re certain you’re penning a best seller (which you absolutely can not be sure of) you have to slog on and go through the long process to publication. It can take years, and it can be demoralizing.
Fan fiction, on the other hand? Because it’s not for profit you can share it online to your hearts content and, when you do, your heart is indeed content. You get reviews, and compliments, and people boast about you on Tumblr**. To me that kind of affirmation is like a drug***, and that’s why I do it. The fans. The community. People placing value on my work.
…I would rather write one-hundred thousand words of fan fiction than ten-thousand words of “original” fiction. This is a problem, because I have a novel to write. Can someone start paying me for Spike and Buffy stories?
Recommended Video: A TED Talk on Self Control (It’s vaguely related, and very interesting.)
*I’m throwing generalizations around, here.
**Okay, so you’re not guaranteed to get showered in praise but I’ve found that – excluding a few haters here and there – fan fiction readers are lovely, and if you come up with anything half decent you will no doubt get fans/followers.
***Disclaimer: drugs are bad. The high doesn’t last forever, and the following slump can be crippling. Same goes for writer’s block, though obviously to a lesser degree. Haters do hate, and they will kill you slowly if you let them.