I think challenging yourself (univeral “you”) to write outside your preferred genre is great. I know that you just might find out that you have strengths beyond those of which you knew, so please don’t construe this list as a way of saying, “Don’t write YA if you’re not already writing it.”
But here are some things that you might want to keep in mind.
1. Don’t write YA if you consider it a stepping stone to writing adult fiction. YA is a refined category in its own right. There is a sophisticated body of YA literature and that body of work keeps growing. So if you think that YA is some sort of dilapidated halfway house towards your career in the adult fic market, you best get your snooty patooty on up outta here.
2. Don’t write YA if you don’t love reading it. Seriously. The vast, vast majority of the books I read are YA and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, if you are just writing it, but not wanting to read than this probably isn’t the “genre” (read: age group) for you. More importantly, if the last piece of YA lit you read was Ender’s Game, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that you need a refresher course. YA lit isn’t all Harry Potter these days. A lot of the titles doing well are quite edgy and certainly not all rated PG.
3. Don’t write YA if the reason you’re writing it is because it’s “hot” right now. First of all, writing to the market is generally not that great an idea. Trends change faster than you can write ’em and just because YA is getting some publicity, doesn’t mean that a great book won’t succeed in another genre…which leads me to my next point…
4. Don’t write YA if you don’t enjoy writing it. If you are bored as a writer or, perhaps less dramatically, not as passionate about the category as you would be in writing a different genre, it will show in your writing. You have a much better chance of writing a book that will sell, if you write a book that you love, a book with that little extra bit of magic that only a writer’s unbridled enthusiasm for the content can create.
5. Don’t write YA because you think it is easier to write. I have heard way too often on message boards “YAs have simplistic plot lines,” “teeny-bopper voices,” “one-dimensional characters,” and “preachy messages.” Again, these misconceptions can be fixed by reading recent YA.
So, here’s what I’m trying to say. YA is awesome. If you are interested, by all means, I suggest everyone check out what’s out there. I hope you love it as much as I do and will want to contribute to the YA litosphere. But, let’s face it, not everyone loves the same books. Not everyone loves the same types of books. That’s ok. Just because YA is a growing market, doesn’t mean that if you don’t write it, you’ll somehow lose out on your golden opportunity or be left off the bandwagon. It’ll be ok.