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I don't often talk about fanfiction and if I ever do, it's usually with people I know already engage with it themselves, or have at least done so in the past. I often see a lot of opinions floating around in regards to it. Some in support, others not so much.
For me personally, I started writing fanfiction back in around 2012, and I was reading it long before then. Writing, generally, has always been something that I've loved to do, I mean, hey, I went and got a BA in Creative Writing because I love it so much. When it came to fanfiction, I mostly started because I was enjoying reading it, but also because it was an easy, assessable way for me to actually sit down and write. For the first time I was putting my stuff out there and allowing for other people to read it and let me know what they thought.
I wrote pretty regularly for a couple of years, but it dwindled during the lead up to University in 2014 and for my three years there. That mostly happened because I was dedicating my time to writing for my courses, and focusing more on original writing again. That being said, since joining University I have written fanfiction on and off with it making a big comeback in 2019.
Here's the thing: Fanfiction isn't for everyone. I get that. I don't fully understand every issue that people have with it, but it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. However, it's benefited me in so many ways over the years, especially as a writer, that I can't help but give it a little love by writing this post.
While there's always going to be some horribly negative comments that achieve next to nothing, getting feedback from people allowed me to gage not only how I see my writing but how other people do. I'll admit, it can be a little tricky sometimes with fanfiction. There will be people who will compliment your work based purely on the fact that you're writing about their favourite character and or ship, but the vast majority of the time, people will often comment on things like your writing style, whether they were entertained or not, and so on. It's a spring board to know what you're good at and what you're not so good. As well as the compliments, you can often hope for some constructive criticism.
Taking the time to sit down and write fanfiction most days kept me motivated, and has allowed for me to also keep pushing forward with original writing too. I'm always making sure that I really think through ideas before I write them, so that I can decide whether or not they're best suited as a piece of fanfiction or something purely original. (Although, it's good to remember that there are so many published books out there that were once fanfiction). For me, they both have their own individual benefits, but also the main similarity which is that it allows for me to write.
At the end of the day, fanfiction may not be for you, but it's allowed for me to do the thing I love no matter what is going on and, depending on the fandom you're writing for, there can a pretty active community to engage with. I mean, there's nothing better than having someone tell you that your writing brightened up their day.