Writing Tips

Burning Out on Your Fav Genre

Before every YA fantasy writer in the world loses their mind, I want to start out by saying that I, myself, am a YA fantasy writer and reader. Again, try not to lose your minds. This isn’t a personal attack. There’s some AMAZING YA SFF coming out right now. My most recent fav was Warcross by Marie Lu. But lately, I have been so burnt out on YA fantasy.

Being burnt out on YA SFF makes me sad, too.

Honestly, this is really difficult for me to admit. I LOVE YA fantasy. I’ve always read it, I mainly write it, and I’m constantly on the lookout for more of it. But recently, I have picked up book after book after book—and I’ve barely been able to connect. Worse? At first I thought it must’ve been the authors or the stories. Then, after a self-criticizing conversation with myself, I realized it was my fault.

You see, all I’ve been reading and writing is YA SFF—and that’s the problem. While writers are constantly told that they need to be reading what they are writing, we aren’t told as often to read outside of what we’re writing, and reading outside of your genre is just as important. Why? Because it teaches different approaches, different voices, different everything. And it helps you from burning out.

So what do you do when you burn out on your favorite genre?

 1. Try a different sub-genre

One genre has a million sub-categories, so try one you don’t usually pick up. For instance, fantasy is a HUGE umbrella term. Maybe you’re reading too much epic fantasy or urban fantasy. Try historical fantasy instead. Or reach into the fringes and grab that alien-vampire-cowboy mash-up you’ve been secretly eyeing.

2. Try a new age category

Don’t forget that there’s a fantasy section in the children’s, YA, and adult sections. Heck, grab a graphic novel. Each age category tends to have a unique approach, and it might help freshen your understanding of your genre. If you’re super unsure, see if any of your favorite writers write in different age categories. Ex. Victoria Schwab writes YA and adult fantasy.

3. Try a new genre completely

Yes, you’re supposed to write what you read, but seriously, reading other genres is just as important. Pick up a contemporary book. Browse some poetry. Reach into the great unknown. Honestly, this option is the one that helps me the most.

I’ve recently been reading more—*gasp*—contemporary, like Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde and Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra. (Both highly recommended by the way). And, honestly, I wish I started reading them earlier this year. I wasn’t paying attention to how burnt out I was getting—how much reading and writing only fantasy was drowning my creativity and enjoyment—but these books quickly pulled me out of a slump once I started them. I’ve even been able to read fantasy again—and sure enough, after a little break, I started loving each story.

Basically, the point of this post is to remind writers that, yes, while you should always be reading what you write, you should also make time to read genres and age categories that you don’t write. Why? Because it expands your pallet. It resets your writing gears. It resets everything.

And it’s fun.


16 thoughts on “Burning Out on Your Fav Genre

  1. I think taking a break from anything when it starts to feel tedious– be it blogging, reading a certain genre, or even reading in genre– is always a good idea. I experienced this with YA lit a few years ago and taking a break definitely helped. Great post! 🙂

  2. This is good to hear.
    I was surprised by your repeated adage that we are supposed to read what we write, though. I actually avoid doing that in an effort to avoid repeating what the author wrote or slipping into his/her style.
    Also, I had assumed my reading tastes changed. I hadn’t thought about growing sick off over-indulgence. 🙂 It sounds so simple after reading this.

    1. I truly believe it is essential to read the genre and age category you are planning to publish. Most agents/editors/publishers agree with this, too. Why? Because if you don’t know what’s being done, what is expected, where your book would be on a shelf (a.k.a. comp titles), and what is needed, it will be much, much harder to appeal to your audience. I understand where you’re coming from, though. I know many writers who struggle to read in their own genre. What I’ve seen work for a lot of them is taking breaks off of writing that certain and using that time to catch up in that genre, and then it slowly gets easier to read it and not letting it influence your voice too much. I hope that helps!

  3. I had the opposite problem in that I really got into reading classics from late 19th/early 20th century, while writing a contemporary realist road novel. Had to make myself go on a crash course of contemporary fiction while I’m trying to find an agent/publisher for it. But I loved the broad sweep of authors such as Zola, Conrad, Steinbeck, Dostoyevsky, writing what was then about their contemporary world and is now fascinating history to us. If you want a serious break, I’d highly recommend perserving with some of them as the worlds they create are wide and complex. Take a look at my blog about this, if you get a minute: https://pennyfrances.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/catching-up-with-the-twenty-first-century

    Thanks, as always, for a stimulating blog, Shannon.

  4. Yeah, I take breaks when all the story descriptions start to sound the same. Then it’s time to seek out greener pastures and let the grass grow back… Okay, I’ll stop torturing that metaphor now.

  5. Yes I totally agree. Furthermore, it’s very important that as we grow older, we should also evolve in the kind of books that we normally read, and to be more more open minded to try out something new; something that is beyond our comfort zone. 😊👍🏻

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