Posted by: nancyisanders | June 12, 2009

My Magnum Opus

Do you have a magnum opus? I do. It’s a writing project I have that is very near and dear to my heart. It’s a project so HUGE that it will take years for me to write. It’s a project so important that it helps me feel validated as a writer no matter how many other manuscripts get rejected throughout the year.

I have chosen to “guard” my magnum opus from the eyes of the world until it is complete. I rarely take it to critique groups. I rarely discuss it with other writers. In fact, I work hard at making sure nobody has the opportunity to reject or criticize it. (I won’t even tell you what my magnum opus is.) This frees me up to really let my creative side create. I try not to let myself worry that if what I’m writing is any good or not. I just try to say what I really, really want to say. I’m doing my best as I can at this moment in time, and that’s enough.

My greatest friend for my magnum opus had been and still is my outline. (It took me three full months to develop it) As I come across new information or get new ideas, I quickly open my outline and plug that information into the right spot. And when I eventually get to that spot ready to write that page of the manuscript, I’ll find that idea or bit of information there in the outline waiting for me. After several years of working on my magnum opus, my outline is now over 200 pages. It allows my project to grow over the years with me as I am growing as a writer.

And growing I am! Somehow I’m different since I started working on my magnum opus. I feel a maturity as a writer I never truly felt before. I know I’m doing something important. I know I’m working on something worthwhile. I know I have self-worth as a writer.

If you don’t yet have a magnum opus, I encourage you to find it. Take your time looking for it. You’ll know it when you see it. It will be an idea that you’ll want to work on that will make a difference somehow, someway, in the lives of others. It will be a manuscript you can pour your heart into a little bit at a time, year after year while you’re working on other, smaller projects, until it’s just the way you want it to be.


  1. Nancy

    Your truly inspire me. At first, I thought no way I don’t but then I remembered the original idea I had that got me all excited about writing for kids in the first place. Thanks for your reminder. I think summer 2009 would be a good time to take the outline out of the cerebral cortex and put it into type!


  2. Oh Diane…how exciting that after just thinking about it like this, you realized what your magnum opus is!!!! I’m thrilled that you’re going to dust it off and reconnect with it. -Nancy

  3. Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU!

    I really needed to read this. I have a magnum opus, and sometimes have been overwhelmed by the vision I have for it. In reading your post, I am rejuvenated, educated and led to take another deep breath and dive in. I have shared a paragraph here and there, but rarely the title (too precious). The main character just started “talking” to me again, yesterday, after months of silence. She told me to listen to the other characters if I wanted to understand her. So now, I have a better plan of how to dedicate myself to this. Thank you, and I look forward to more posts.

  4. Sarah, your heartfelt thanks REALLY meant a lot to me. I could FEEL you reconnect with your manuscript. You’ve inspired me about my magnum opus all over again! -Nancy

  5. Nancy, I thought it would be interesting to read one of your early posts. (It was.) Did you ever finish your magnum opus? If not, are you still working on it? If you did finish, is it something you might share with us?

    • Thanks for asking, Mary! And yes, I still have my outline and I still add to it when I find tidbits of info to plug into it. It’s now 263 pages long. But no, I don’t focus on it right now and I might not actually complete it or ever get it published. But because I’ve worked on it over the years, it has landed me numerous book contracts on different subtopics within my magnum opus. And no, I don’t want to share it yet because nobody has yet published anything like this and some day…I just might pursue it getting it published after all! Happy writing. :o)

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