For some people, saving your work seems like a no-brainer. For others, the thought doesn’t always come to mind. Lots of writers tend to be a bit flaky sometimes. We forget things!
I was really bad about saving my work. Really bad. As in I didn’t. Let me share a story about how that completely blew up in my face.
The Devastation of a Computer Crashing
One day in February of 2017, I was working when suddenly, my computer crashed. No matter what I did, I could not get it to come back up. This was the first time something like this had ever happened to me.
I panicked. I searched for the nearest computer repair shop and brought it in to be fixed. They were very confident about fixing it and I left it in their hands for the next week.
I ultimately needed a new hard drive, as my old one crashed. When I picked up my computer, the tech told me that he got all my documents and stuff changed over to the new one. But, if any were missing, I should bring it back with the old hard drive and he could recover them.
I got home and checked my computer. I had a file titled “Books” which had everything I’d been working on with my writing. Three WIP novels, no less than 20 notes documents for my WIP series, a few notes docs for the other two, a list of novel ideas, a few documents with some notes on those ideas, and other related notes on writing in general.
What was left in the folder? A small handful of documents. None of the folders for my WIP’s (which each had their own folder). I wasn’t too panicked at this point. The tech told me to just bring it in to get them extracted. So I did.
Now, I don’t really understand tech jargon when it comes to the inner-workings of electronics. But he told me that he was unable to extract the document. He could see them, but he couldn’t access it.
My heart dropped.
We brought it to another computer repair shop in town to get a second opinion. He basically said the same thing but offered us another option. He could send it out to a third party and they might be able to extracted the files. However, he wouldn’t have been able to quote me a price and there was a chance that nothing could be done, but I would need to be charged anyway. He was very honest with me (which I appreciated) and said it wasn’t really something he recommended because there was really no guarantee of anything.
Ultimately, we opted not to go this route. It would likely be too expensive and we could wind up with nothing.
Devastation isn’t a strong enough word for how I felt. When we made the ultimate decision and the weight of what this all meant came crashing down on me, I lost it. I clung onto my fiancé and just sobbed. I literally cried like I never had before in my entire life. I cried for a solid hour for my loss.
What I Lost
I started my writing journey in 2007. In 2012, my dad bought me a new laptop as my college graduation present. I download all of my files to a USB to transfer them to my new laptop. That was the last time I had saved my work. So, I didn’t lose everything. There was a sliver of a silver lining there. I was grateful to have had that.
As I’ve mentioned before, the year 2013 was a time of great writing for me. I had focused so much time and energy on my writing. I had “completed” a novel that I submitted to agents and publishers. I worked on my WIP series extensively, doing many re-writes and re-vamping. In 2015, I had “completed” another novel that I had begun sending to agents and publishers. All of that was gone.
It actually took me close to a year before I could even open up that USB to see what was left there. I knew I had lost so much of my work. At the time, I hoped that maybe I had saved my work after transferring my files. But I was heartbroken by it all and couldn’t bear to face it.
Finally, while on maternity leave this past December, I faced the reality. This was when I discovered what was saved after getting my new computer. I wouldn’t have to start from scratch. I still had plenty to work with. I chose to take an optimistic approach and see this as an opportunity to do what I could to make these stories even better than they were before.
Even though I don’t have the physical words that I wrote during that time, it wasn’t a total loss. It’s not as though that time was wasted. Writing is a process and we grow through each writing session. I’m a better writer now than I was then and that I will be in the future. That’s what really matters.
A Valuable Lesson To Learn
This whole experience taught me an incredibly valuable lesson as a writer, one I wish I had the common sense to have known already. Backing up your work is the most important thing you can do as a writer. I firmly believe that you should back up your work every single time you write. Simply saving it in a document on your laptop or computer isn’t enough. Anything can happen, at any time.Backing up your work is the most important thing you can do as a writer. Click To Tweet
Below are a few tips that have helped me save my work and I hope will help you as well!
1. USB Drive
We rely quite a bit on technology. But we can’t assume it’s the end-all, be-all. Having a hard copy of our work is of vital importance. Who knows if we were to lose access to something online or our computer was to crash? Having a hard copy allows us to plug our USB in anyplace and pick up right where we left off.
Don’t think me crazy, but it’s probably a good idea to have more than one USB drive. These things are small. They could break or get lost quite easily. It good sense to back up your back up!
I keep my USB in a firebox for safe keeping. I keep another one in my desk for easy access. Every time I finish writing, no matter how little I wrote, I save it.
2. The Cloud
I know I said technology can be a finicky thing to save with. But saving in the cloud does have some great benefits. What happens if your USB drive is stolen, or lost? You now have a secure online place to access your work. I don’t know a whole lot about where you can save things online. But one that has been beneficial for me is Google Drive.
If you have a Gmail address (which I think most people do nowadays), you have the benefit of a Google Drive. It’s a great place to have a back up copy. What’s great about it, too, is that you can access it from anywhere.
Say, for example, you go to the library or a local coffee shop to write and you forgot your USB. Just access it from and save it to the drive!
A Necessary Evil
Now, I get it, this kind of seems like a lot of work. But it is so worth it. I’d much rather take the time and be a bit obsessive about it if it means not losing my work again.
I urge you, don’t make the same mistake I did! If my story can prevent someone else from a similar fate, I would be elated. Now get out there, write, and back up your work!