I don't know about you, but I think reading is a blast. Reading in the Fantasy genre? Mind-blowing. Romance novels? Life-altering. I think writing is pretty freaking awesome, too, which you've hopefully figured out by now. After a while, though, it's just not enough. I need more! More experience, more emotion, more...vibes.
Oh boy, time to grow out my dreadlocks. I used the v-word. In my quest to find this mythical (dare I say fantastical?) "more" of which I speak, I've journeyed into the very depths of desperate boredom. I've found ways to expand my experiences as a reader and a writer, I've become nerdier, I've created artistic catastrophes that even the bravest dare not speak of!
Mostly, I've just had a lot of fun. And I want you to have a lot of fun, too, so here's a few ways to make that "more" for yourself! Oh, and maybe your readers, too, if you're an author like me.
Do Some Art, Even If You Objectively Suck At It.
Oh, man, when I say I can't even draw a stick-figure, I'm not joking. I really, really suck at the visual arts. And yet... I have an instagram account filled with art I've made and I'm building up a whole stock of work to add to it.
If I'm really into a character or a setting, I don't want my experiences with either to end when I'm done with the series. I'm hungry for more - I want to see it all right in front of me. And with the advent of programs like Canva, Photoshop, and myriad others, that's now totally possible. Sometimes I just cruise Devianart for an hour and save a whole folder based on whatever fantasy experience I'm trying to hold on to.
I'd say that this loosely counts as "doing art" in the grand scheme of things. It's at least an aesthetic exercise, and that's got to be close, right? Regardless, adding some visual art of your own or others' making really deepens the whole bookaholic adventure, if you ask me (you WERE asking me, right...?).
Have You Tried...Fanfiction? No, Really.
Okay, look, I'll admit it. I write fanfiction. Will any of you ever see it? Probably not. It's all stored away in a Fort Knox level secret folder deep within my laptop's hard drive. It's not that I'm embarrassed, really, I'm just territorial about it.
Guess what? You don't have to break up with your book loves at the end of their story. That's the best part about the fiction genre, really. If you've got imagination and a word processor, you can keep the fun-train going strong by writing your own scenes, characters, or what-have-you from within the cozy embrace of your book.
When I write fanfiction, it tends to be a creative exercise that makes me feel even more involved in the story than I was before. Maybe I want to explore a potential backstory for the villain (or I just want to bone him/her), maybe I have some ideas about how and why the major city in the book's world was built. It can be anything, and whatever that itch may be, I find that a quick or not-so-quick bout of fanfiction can scratch it.
Go ahead, don't be embarrassed. Let it out. Free the beast!
Write Spin-Offs (And Yes, That's Different Than Fan Fiction).
Okay, so this part is mostly for fellow authors, I'll admit. Lately I've been delving into the fun of writing a spin-off mini ebook for my subscribers, and I've fallen in love with my trilogy all over again. I don't want to give too much away about what exactly I'm writing, but suffice it to say that it's a great time.
Writing spin-offs can involve creating lore, alternate universes (AUs), trying out new romantic combinations, developing future stories or ones that happen long before the events of your book...the list is endless.
When I write a spin-off, I validate my story and the inspiration that brought it about. Sometimes I think of things to change or fix in my original work, which is both good and bad - but always useful. I think there's something to be said for appreciating your own writing enough to go even deeper into it like this.
Talk To Authors & Join Groups.
A lot of people have been tooting about on the internet saying "facebook is dead" or other such nonsense. Well, it's not. Surprise. It's actually more popular than ever, and for voracious readers like me there are more groups and forums than ever to connect to on the platform.
You can also use Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other platforms you want to accomplish this glorious quest of connecting to weirdos just like you. I also suggest using the mystical power of email to reach out to authors themselves.
Oh, yes, I know how intimidating it is to talk to us authors. We are mystical, stereotypically introverted beasts, but nearly all of us are hiding a shadowy secret. We love hearing from readers. We even love responding to them! It's a fact, and we actually tend to make it pretty easy to reach out. Just find the contact page or sign up for the subscriber list on your favorite booksmith's website, and send a message.
Not only is this step a good way to really dig your greedy little claws into a story, but it's also immensely helpful to the writers themselves. When writing a review you can understand your own reading experience better and relive the parts of the book you loved...or vent about how awful it was.
Either way, the satisfaction is real.
Join Author Newsletters.
I've hammered this home a few times but haven't given you any specifics. The thing is, we authors tend to work really hard on our newsletters and everything that goes along with them. You can get extra scenes, free ebooks, discounts, advice, and a lot of other things from these emails.
I also add my sub-par fan art to my letters sometimes, so that's a good incentive...right?
Make Music Playlists For Your Favorite Books!
A good playlist can totally transport you, and a bad one can make the reading experience implode, complete with whoopie-cushion sound effects. When I'm writing, I develop a long playlist for each book. I try to keep them pretty organized; maybe part of it is folksy indie music, some is classical, some is angsty punk rock or glitzy tech...
Whatever you feel when you're reading or writing that book, you should try to deepen and further evoke that emotion with the music you listen to while doing it. It makes everything a million times more immersive.
Look For Fantasy Blogs.
Blogs are a goldmine for content to enhance your...well, your content, I suppose. At the end of the day that's what all fiction books are. They're content - products - that we consume. Blogs just add on to this by exploring ideas, questions, and facets of the experience that you yourself may not have considered.
A lot of fantasy authors (cough cough) have blogs, and some of them are really good. If you like the way a writer tells a story, you'll probably like the way they blog. Plus, they'll often recommend new books and series in their genre, so you get more ammo for your avoid-real-life weapons system.
Basically, Reading And Writing Are Just The Start Of Your Glorious Nerdy Potential.
Why should the reading experience stop with reading? Why should the writing grind be a one-trick show? Books, stories - they're incredible. They're life changing and mind-altering and so great that I've built an entire life around them, and the more experiences you build around your own bookish activities, the more you'll get to enjoy everything they have to offer.
The best part of being a book lover is that it's a passion that never ends. You have countless communities out there that share your bibliophile tastes and so many sources of insight, theories, and conversation that you could spend every day for the rest of your life going through them all.
If you have your own ways of deepening the reading/writing experience, share it! I'd love to know all about it. For now, thanks for reading, and I'll see you soon!