Maybe I should’ve titled this post “What Not To Do When You Lose Your Work”.
If you’re new around here, (though you probably aren’t) the Herminia Chow blogging style book states: every word is capitalized in a title because she’s too lazy to follow any other rule.
It also states: punctuation comes after the quotation mark when part of a sentence, again because she’s too lazy to observe any other rule.
Maybe one day I’ll publish a post with all my rules. So you can laugh at how incorrect and lazy I am. But at least I’m consistent in being incorrect and lazy.
I’ve digressed because I rather not think about how careless I was.
And surprise, how lazy I am.
I’m usually good with saving my work anywhere and everywhere. I don’t believe you can ever save a draft too many times or have the same draft in too many places.
But this time I had one draft saved in one place. The application froze and when I went back on it, I lost all the work I did for an assignment due this Thursday. Safe to say I had over half of it done. All those hours of work gone in a few seconds.
Life’s fun and funny like that.
So naturally I panicked. And in my state of panic, I told the whole world. My mom. My dad. My best friend. My professor. That’s pretty much my world.
Could I have spent all that time redoing my assignment? Of course. Did I? Of course not.
Let this be a lesson to always save your work many times and in multiple places.
Don’t be like me. Don’t be lazy. It comes back to haunt you.
I haven’t been sleeping well these past few nights. I think I know why.
Want to know the culprit? I haven’t been backing up my stuff properly.
All jokes aside, I love having copies of everything, everywhere.
Some of the ways I do this are listed below.
- A hard drive or on a USB (I have four)
- An online platform like Google Docs and Dropbox (I use both)
- On multiple devices such as a tablet, phone, etc. (it never hurts)
- Create a draft on WordPress and upload the image, video, whatever it is into the actual post (another reason why I love blogging)
How do you achieve peace of mind?
When the power goes out while you’re writing on the computer.
Worse, when the power takes an eternity to come back on.
Even worse, when your work doesn’t save.
Speaking from experience although it’s more like an exaggerated experience.
Perhaps the world is telling me I should get used to writing by candlelight.
Today, a teacher of mine announced to the class that I wrote an awesome research paper. I’m not sure I believe him, but here’s what I did.
- Start researching early. The earlier you start, the more time you have. The later you start, the less time you have. Simple, basic logic. Too bad people enjoy doing this thing called procrastinating. I advise you not to jump on the bandwagon if you plan on writing an A+ paper.
- Let your teacher guide you. Ask questions if you are confused. Seek clarification so you know what your professor is expecting of you. Email them if you’re too shy to speak to them face to face.
- Pick the right number of sources. If you pick too many, your paper may be all over the place. If you pick too few, your paper may sound redundant. Depending on the length of your paper, the number of sources you use will vary. Sometimes your teacher gives a range. If that’s the case, aim to fall in the middle of that range.
- Select the right kind of sources. Some sources won’t help you formulate your thesis, arguments, etc. Pick what you use wisely.
- Record references and thoughts. I didn’t do this but had I done this from the beginning, my life would have been so much easier. I’m giving you a chance to learn from me. Take it.
- Don’t fixate on your arguments too quickly. They may change. So don’t get caught up in saying something that you neglect to say another point that’s even stronger.
- Polish, polish, polish. Grammar mistakes make for bad impressions. Spelling mistakes make for even worse impressions. Your chances of getting a good mark increases every time you read over your work and fix your errors.
- Save, save, save. You never know when the power may go out. A friend of mine learned this the hard way. Don’t make the same mistake she did.
Ah. You knew I was going to tackle this one.
Are you saving your manuscript everywhere?
- Let’s say your computer broke down right this second. Of course that isn’t true. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this post. Still bear with me.
- Let’s pretend your manuscript disappears into oblivion because of some technical issue.
- Let’s imagine your house burning down. Not that I wish this on anyone.
Now let’s suppose that one of the above actually happened. What? Would you lose 20,000/30,000/40,000 words of writing? Would you have wasted 20/30/40 hours of your life?
To ensure a tragedy like this will never occur, there is a solution. SAVE. Yes, save everywhere and anywhere. Save your document in multiple places. On a USB. On the computer. On your laptop. On Google docs. E-mail your novel to yourself. Save a draft of it on WordPress. Whatever floats your boat.
To be fair I had the first happen to me, I knew someone who experienced the second, and as for the latter—someone robbed my house and stole a laptop with everything of mine on it. Every loss has strengthened my resolve to save the documents that mean the most to me everywhere. And I mean it wholeheartedly when I say everywhere. Save every day. You won’t regret saving but you will regret not saving.
Promise me that you will take care of yourselves and your novel.
Tomorrow reflect on: are you worrying too much rather than writing?
A list of five things I think every writer needs to or should try to do every day. But whether or not you take me up on this advice is up to you.
- Save religiously. In case your computer crashes or your house blows up. Or aliens attack. There is no insurance, not that I am aware of, that claim to recover lost manuscripts. And no money in the world will ever buy back your time, effort, and hard work.
- Read voraciously. You’ve heard this before a million times so I don’t get any points here for originality but if you are one of those people that don’t read…then I am at an utter loss for words.
- Write fiercely. You’re a writer. It’s your job to write. It’s also your job to find time to write.
- Observe graciously. There’s a happy balance between full out stalker and causal observer. Observe people with grace. Or at least do it clandestinely. (Like me.)
- Ask curiously. Writers are curious creatures. We can’t help it. And like my science teacher once said, “Question Everything.”
So continue to save, read, write, observe, and ask questions. The person that benefits the most will ultimately be YOU.