Wordcount “Wednesday”

Because it’s Wednesday somewhere still, right?

Apparently not…

So a few days ago, I posted this picture on Instagram:


Doing something scary… I’ll blog about it on Wednesday. #amwriting

A post shared by John Otte (@otte.jw) on

And I did promise that I would blog about this. So here we go.

But before we begin, I’m going to apologize in advance. This post is going to be a little self-indulgent and might come off as a little whiny. While it may appear that I’m complaining, I’m really not. But what I’m doing is a little extreme. Allow me to explain.

So if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you have a lot of stamina when it comes to reading trivial nonsense.

…wait, that’s not what I’m trying to say. What I am trying to say is that you’ve likely skimmed some of my previous Wordcount Wednesday posts about my latest work-in-progress, a book that started out with the working title “Mourning Dove,” which eventually transformed into a book I’m calling “Unmasked.” The last time I reported on my progress, I had finished the book. I had edited it, tweaked it, had beta readers go through it, and I sent it off to my long-suffering agent Amanda to see what she thought.. And I waited for Amanda to get back to me, confident that she would love it and be ready to start shopping it around.

While Amanda liked it, she had some rather interesting insights into it. For starters, while I intended for this to be a young adult book, Amanda thought that it read more like a middle grade reader. I have no problem with middle grade readers, but that wasn’t what I set out to write. She had some other thoughts about what I had written, and all of them were valid criticisms of what I had written, stuff I had largely been blind to.

That’s what a good agent does, folks, and why I’m glad to be represented by Amanda. She’s really cool and awesome.

But some of her comments knocked me for a loop. They would represent major changes to some of the characters I had created and the plot that I had put together. So I’ve spent the last several months mulling over what she had to say and how I would implement her suggested changes. I was excited by the possibilities and the new direction this could take the story. But I wanted to give my brain some time to process what I was going to do.

A few weeks ago, I realized that I couldn’t just sit on it any longer, I had to get to work and start putting words on the page again. So I pulled up the files for “Unmasked” and got to work.

Only I ran into a problem. I kept seizing up mentally. I knew what I had to do, but actually going in and making the changes was way too difficult for me. And the more I thought about the rest of the book, the more I froze mentally. I was really starting to worry that I wouldn’t be able to get through the rewrite at all.

So a week or two ago, I emailed Amanda and a friend of mine to bounce some new ideas off of them. In the conversation, Amanda had this to say:

And for some reason, those five words stuck out to me: “back-to-the-drawing-board.” That wasn’t what I was doing. I was simply trying to do another tweak, just change a word or phrase here or there and be done with it. Was that approach holding me back?

So after a lot of thought and prayer, I decided to pull the trigger and do the scary thing: I’ve set aside the last version of my story and I’m starting from scratch again. I know the story. I know the characters. I know how I want it to unfold. But what I had written already was getting in the way.

Consider this me hitting the reset button. Thus my progress bar on the right side of the screen has been reset back to 0 (or at least, it was). I have a brand new, empty file in Scrivener. And we’re going to see what emerges.

Now I may cheat a little here and there (if there’s a scene from the previous iteration that I think will still work and I’m happy with it, I might do a little cutting-and-pasting here and there), but this is a fresh start and, as scary as it is, I’m looking forward to seeing how this all works out.

And it’s already paying off! As of right now, I’ve gotten 4,676 words into this new version of the story. I’m hoping that that number will keep going up. I’ve set a target of 100,000 words. Let’s see how long it takes me to get to the end of it.

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