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16 April 2013 @ 05:20 pm
Being Well-Rounded for Dummies  
 We've all heard that piece of advice: "Have well-rounded interests, not just fandom." It's a good piece of advice! You can be as big a fan of any show, game, comic, book, or other piece of media as you like, but it will make you that much happier and more at-home in conversations with people inside and out of fandom if you have a broader frame of reference and outside interests.

It can be daunting. Maybe you've spent a long time deeply invested in one thing because you love it so much or because you have a connection with the community around it. Maybe you just haven't found anything else that has captured your interest. Maybe you're young and you've only really been in one fandom so far! Circumstances like these can make the idea of opening your horizons to new fandoms difficult and scary, but it's definitely worth the risk.

First, I'll take a look at what is perhaps an easier leap to make: getting into other fandoms or media.
  • Figure out what you like about your fandom! Is it the content of the media, or the community surrounding it? Are you fond of the characters? The plot? The setting? The sense of humor? Do you like having a tight-knit little community, or a massive fanbase creating almost infinite varieties of fanworks? Are you fond of certain fics, fanart, or AUs? Is availability a concern? Identifying what it is that makes you like a fandom so much lets you determine what to look for in other fandoms.
  • Look at the things your fandom friends like. The things BNFs like. Chances are, you have stuff in common with them, and they have secondary fandoms, so there's a strong chance of overlap.
  • Just poke around and find works with similarities to your main fandom! If you like Mass Effect for the rapport of the main cast and their world-jumping adventures in the second game, maybe you'll want to watch Firefly. Or maybe you like it for the diverse aliens and world-shaking events, and will feel more at home getting into Babylon 5. If it's the Bioware sci-fi combination, you could check out the Knights of the Old Republic games and dip your feet in the vast waters of Star Wars canon. And that's just a few examples going off one fandom! The possibilities are endless.
  • Try crossing boundaries. Is your main fandom live-action? Look for things in common with it in comics, cartoons, anime, or games! Is your fandom a game? Give a non-interactive canon source a shot! Into anime? Test the waters of western animation or live-action! Really into a movie? How about you check out a long-form story next? It can be easy to get locked into one type of fandom, so it's important to look for things you like across media. Same goes for genre- when you heavily favor fantasy, don't forget to look at sci-fi, horror, and more "realistic" genres. Don't be afraid to check out literature and serious cinema if your fandoms lean towards more fluffy entertainment!
  • Remember: just because you experiment with one outside fandom and don't like it doesn't make it a lost cause. You'll always learn something new from finding a fandom you don't like, whether it's about your taste or about qualities of writing and production of media in general. And there are always more fish in the sea.
Now here's the trickier bit. Non-fandom interests. They're vital for everyone to have! They're not always the easiest to figure out right off the bat! Don't be discouraged, though. You can always find something.
  • Anything catch your interest in school? I know, school is pretty terrible, but we all had at least one favorite subject. History, science, literature, writing, mathematics, sociology, psychology, music, theater, visual art... even sports! Follow up on your interest in that and make it something yours, not just a subject you liked in school. Do outside research in the parts that really interested you, or stuff that you wish your teachers had talked about more but didn't.
  • Do you have an artistic talent of some kind? Great! Even a strong desire to develop talent in an art is enough, really, because effort is half the battle of talent. Draw, paint, sculpt, sing, act, compose music, write poems, write stories. Do fanworks, but also make your own original projects. You'll more likely than not love them like they're your own children. Don't give up because you're not good at first. We all have to overcome the first hump there.
  • Is there stuff within your fandom that really intrigues you? To go back to Mass Effect, maybe you're really fascinated by the physics and space travel that come up in the series, and want to know how plausible they are in the real world. Maybe Game of Thrones has given you a taste of medieval politics, or you want to learn more about the weird animal facts that keep popping up later on in Hunter x Hunter. Did you watch Madoka and go "what's the deal with entropy?" Or did Tsuritama hook you on fishing? Fandoms will always provide interesting topics, and you should seize upon them when they catch your eye! More often than not, these topics are directly related to the interests of their creators. Follow their example, and broaden your horizons, too!
  • Dig deep. Don't just limit your investigation of subjects to their Wikipedia pages, though you don't need to discount Wikipedia's value for getting you started on a subject. Look for cited sources and read them! Find books and academic papers, specialized websites, and documentaries on the things you like. Who knows, there might even be a TV show dedicated to that subject that so fascinated you!
Once you start to broaden your interests, you'll find yourself with a well of subjects to talk to other people with. You'll find others who share your interests, or who don't know much about them but are intrigued and want to find out more. You can gain insight on your existing fandoms when you have information from outside them- your fanworks and meta will drastically improve with this insight. And even if you leave the fandom, you'll still have knowledge, passions, and an idea of where to go next. So be brave! Find interesting things and pursue them!