While writing your Young Adult (or YA) novel, writing burnout can be a tricky part in the story writing process. There comes a point in your story where you get stuck and stare at your computer screen or notebook for hours at a time, trying to think about what you should write next.
Or worse, you have been working on that same scene or story for days/weeks and you’re sick of it. This results in abandoning the story and never returning to it.
However, there is hope. All authors, including YA authors, have been there at some point.
There are some tricks they use to prevent writing burnout, which might hopefully help you, too.
Here are five ways to help you prevent writing burnout as a YA author:
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Prevent Writing Burnout With These Five Tricks
1.Take small breaks
Whenever I get stuck on a particular scene in my stories, I find taking small breaks help clear my mind and provide a different angle on what I actually wanted to say in my story.
This comes in the form of putting the pen down or closing out of the story for a short period (like 15 minutes to an hour) and finding something else to do, like watching a YouTube video, reading a chapter out of a book, or going for a walk.
I learned that the key to these small breaks is that I am putting something between the story and me.
No matter what you choose to do on your small break, it is imperative you turn your mind off to your story. Then, when you return to it, your mind is refreshed, and you will find yourself back to writing.
However, avoid taking long breaks. I learned over the years that it’s easy to get distracted and not pick up the story for a while. These extended breaks could be especially detrimental to your writing as you might forget where you wanted to go with your YA story, which will prolong your writing burnout and result in abandoning the project altogether. (I have lots of drafts of unfinished stories that have laid untouched in the bowels of my computer because of these extended breaks).
2. Read a book
Many authors advise reading books to help you write your YA story. I find that this advice comes in handy when preventing writing burnout. Writers (including myself) call this tactic “refilling the reserves.” When we read, we are absorbing new ideas, information, and vocabulary that could later help you figure out how to be implemented into your novel.
I found that it helps to read books that are in the same genre you are writing. As mentioned prior, you get ideas on how to continue your story or give you a different perspective on how a scene should go. Therefore, whether you are on a break or bored, reading another YA book will definitely help you prevent writing burnout.
On the other hand, I also have found that reading different genres is also beneficial. That is because it offers different perspectives and possible avenues on how to continue the story.
3. Free Writing
Whenever I experienced writing burnout in my creative writing class back in the tenth grade, my teacher advised me to do some free writing. She explained that free writing is a technique where you basically write whatever pops into your head, even if you feel like it’s garbage. She went on to say that this exercise helps you get ideas out and may even help you sort out the difficult parts of your story.
I learned that whenever I free write, it’s best to use a separate document or notebook. A blank page always gets my creative juices flowing and also gives me room to add new ideas or thoughts. Also, the mind can’t focus if you do your free write in the same document/notebook of your story.
Free writing may sound tedious and maybe even mentally strenuous, but it’s a great method to help you out of your burnout. After you complete your free write, you will discover that you have connected the dots between the tricky scenes of your YA story and know what to write next.
4. Take Care of Yourself
This tip ties into number 1. Taking care of yourself is very important when it comes to writing your YA novel. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break from the story. Go for a walk. Get something to eat or drink. Literally, sleep on the story. Or, if you really need to, distance yourself from your writing for a couple of days.
While this tip does contradict the advice given in number 1, I can guarantee you that you will not be able to write well if your mind is racing and you’re feeling stressed out. Refreshing your body will not only reduce the stress but also improve your writing.
I have compared my writing to when I was stressed out versus when I was relaxed. The results are vastly different. Whenever I wrote when I was stressed, the paragraphs fell into two extremes: either very short and direct or overly wordy and unclear. Whenever I went back to the stories with a relaxed mind, the paragraphs still tended to be direct, but they were clear and had an even balance of short and long sentences.
5. Change Your Environment
Sometimes a change in scenery can help you out of your writing burnout. If you look at how some YA authors wrote their stories, many of them traveled elsewhere.
Some examples include J.K. Rowling, who wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in a coffee shop, or how Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn while vacationing in Elmira.
While you don’t have to travel to an exotic location like the beach or the Amazon to write your story, I found that visiting my local coffee shop or sitting in the shade of a park can make a world of difference in helping me out of my writing burn out.
If you don’t feel like leaving the house, I found that writing in a different room or even changing up your writing space helps with burnout as well. Clear off your desk and tidy up the area around it. It’s hard to write when your space is a mess.
Regardless of where you choose to write, make sure your environment is quiet and distraction free. Getting distracted can easily damage your writing or make you forget where you want to go with your YA story, which will definitely not help you with your burnout.
Writing takes time. Do not be discouraged if you sit there for minutes or even hours at a time without writing anything. There will be days where you feel like you can write for hours while others you’re lucky if you can get a paragraph out.
Remember, in order to prevent writing burnout, you must: take small breaks, read a book or an article, practice some free writing, change up your environment, and, above all, take care of yourself. As long as you practice these five things and keep working on your story, you’ll overcome your burnout and be writing your YA story again in no time.