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The writer's magnum opus trap: Editor's Notes #207
March 31, 2016
Hello,

I like the idea of being a working writer, not of saying that it's going to take me 30 years to write my magnum opus.
--Stewart O'Nan


In this issue:

1. The Magnum Opus Trap
2. Tickled my funnybone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1. The Magnum Opus Trap
I'm pleased to present another guest contributor. Marcia Yudkin makes her living as a marketer, but she also knows books and writing. Here is her advice for those who may be trying to eat a whole elephant in one meal.

Are you writing a book? Have you been writing a book for ages? If so, consider whether you've fallen victim to what I call the Magnum Opus Trap.

"Magnum opus" means "great work" - a masterpiece that seals someone's reputation for all time.

If you're hanging this ambition on your book, you may be thwarting your progress with a few counterproductive attitudes:
  • The determination to include everything you know and believe in the book. This often makes the book's size swell unmanageably and its structure become unwieldy. Have you made your book unfinishable?

  • An inordinate concern with heading off criticism. This can hamper the book's readability and also delay completion.

  • Belief that only the full-length book can properly explain your ideas. This prevents you from gathering an audience that awaits the book.

If you recognize those symptoms, take a break. Write something shorter that introduces your themes in some useful way. Begin selling this report to bring in revenue and attract fans who will want more. You'll thereby take the pressure off the book and find it easier to reach its end!

Reprinted with permission from Marcia Yudkin's free weekly Marketing Minute newsletter. Subscribe at http://www.yudkin.com/markmin.htm.

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2.Tickled my funnybone
No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

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3. Interesting Web site
If you want to get lost in a sea of literary terms, here is a good place to start...

http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/lit_terms_A.html

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4. Writing prompt
Begin with, "It was just an April fool's joke."

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