And, of course, the entire perfect story (which surely would've gone on to find a publication home in The Atlantic or The New Yorker) disappeared, because I did not hit save once before one of my roommates thought it would be a good idea to mess around with our dorm room's fuse box. I ended up pulling an all-nighter to try and re-create the magic while sleepy and upset.
In my actual (and factual) flashback, I lost one short story (and a first draft at that), but the emotional blow was great at the time. Also, I could've avoided losing most of the story by just hitting save every so often. Now imagine losing everything on your hard drive today. It can and does happen to people every day, and there are things you can do to protect yourself now.
Here are some ways to protect your writing:
- Save as you work. My flashback above should give you plenty of incentive to save as you work. It's hard to get back into "THE ZONE" when you're recreating a scene (or set of scenes).
- Save files on an online site. For instance, my wife prefers using Google docs for all her poetry and Flickr for her images. These sites are good, because your computer could crash, but your files won't be affected.
- Use external hard drive. This is a good way to save important files, but if you do this, I would suggest keeping the external hard drive in a separate location than your actual hard drive. After all, the external hard drive won't help out much when a fire, tornado or flood damages your home if it gets destroyed along with the regular hard drive.
- Find an online backup service. There are many companies that offer online backup services for reasonable rates. For instance, Carbonite offers unlimited data storage for $54.95 per year; Mozy has rates as low as $5.99 per month.
- Keep copy offsite. I know I recommended this in step 3, but I think it's advice worth repeating and bolding. A copy only helps in unexpected disasters if it's separated from the original.
- Print copies. This is old school, but you could always have a paper copy of writing just in case all the data storage in the world is wiped out by an electromagnetic pulse or intense solar flare. Of course, if that happens, the last thing you might be worried about is whether you have a copy of your unpublished manuscript.
Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer
Check out these other Tips for Writers:
- Negotiating Tips for Writers post.
- Blog Design Tips for Writers post.
- Platform Building 101 for Writers post.
Protect yourself with these tools: