Storage disaster day. And a few solutions.
TRACEE: Let’s get the facts out there first. It shouldn’t be difficult: You write or type words on paper. There they are! Ready to be manipulated, changed, read aloud, or published. At least that’s what I used to think. When I was in junior high school I had a long obsession with James Michener’s books. I won’t claim to have read them all, but I made my way through quite a few. Some more than once. I then read in an interview that Michener had a near final manuscript on a book set in Russia. For an adolescent Russophile, this was pure joy for me. Then…. the bad news. The manuscript was lost in a suitcase and he simply couldn’t imagine trying to re-create it. This may have been when we parted ways. Was he lazy? It was written! Flash-forward years later and not only do I empathize but I can’t imagine how he ever wrote anything again. Needless to say, now I fully understand that the re-creation of a sentence or phrase is difficult enough. The re-creation of an entire chapter is impossible. The rewriting of an entire book…. What’s the word beyond impossible? I’m going to create a new word for this level of depression, despair, and inability. Which brings my modern writing self to the all-important question. How do you make sure you don’t have a James Michener moment? How do you store your work, both in the moment (not to lose the changes of the last hour) and long term? I used to rely on backups to an external drive. More recently I’ve taken to emailing a daily copy to myself and keeping every printed copy ever made (and these are legion). What say the rest of you? And let’s hear from our resident computer expert last. That’s you Robin. We should probably all do what you do. ALEXIA: I use cloud storage and paper. I have an Office 365 subscription which includes Word. I turn on auto save and Word periodically saves whatever I’m writing. I also keep all of my handwritten notes and drafts and I print out a hard copy of my manuscript at various stages in the editing process. And, yes, I keep the paper versions indefinitely. I love paper. SUSAN: I save things on my flash drive every half hour or so. Then every day I change the flash drive so that if something’s wrong with it I won’t lose anything. Then every so often I print out a complete draft. I also put the date of the draft in the header so I can figure it when it’s from. Amazing all the things you can forget. Susan TRACEE: The date in the header is so key! CATE: I email the story to myself at the end of every day and I save on my hard drive. MICHELE: I have auto save, Carbonite, and use flash drives. I email myself and husband (he is a saint) drafts as I go along. When I have a first draft, I print it because I am a very visual person and viewing my work on screen doesn’t work well for me. I put it in a three ring binder so I remember it is a book, not a plight. Like Alexia, I love paper. I finished my WIP while traveling and couldn’t get it printed. It made editing a nightmare and resulted in a few glitches. TRACEE: I used to rely mainly on the hard drive and the external drive, then we were burglarized and the hard drive and external drive were stolen. Thank goodness for printed copies and email! PAULA: No power now thanks to nor’easter so reminded that pen and paper work as long as the dog doesn’t eat it! MICHELE: Well, there was that time when I was just about done writing a brief for the Appeals Court and a powerful thunderstorm blew through, taking every word I had written with it. Of course, it was due the next day. There’s a good reason I am neurotic! ALISON: Like the rest of you, I’ve had my brushes with terror. I back up to both iCloud and a backup folder every few pages. When I’m done for the day, I email myself. Once I’m at the revising and editing stage, I print out everything and use a good old-fashioned pen (purple not red) for making changes. TRACEE: We need a separate discussion on pen color. I LOVE red ink. If you ever mark up one of my manuscripts I’ll send you a good and bloody red pen. ROBIN: I save WIPs on my laptop every few minutes while I’m working (keyboard shortcuts for the win). Years ago I lost a report at my day job when my computer crashed and I’ve been a compulsive saver ever since. Every couple of days I save both the Pages and exports in Word formats onto a USB thumb drive. If I’ve created or added to any notes files, those get copied, too. Each book gets its own folder and in each folder I stash all versions, notes, and research. Every few weeks I save the folder (and any new ones) to another thumb drive and a desktop computer. All of it is local. You can see my feelings on cloud storage here: https://www.missdemeanors.com/single-post/2017/11/20/Cloudy-With-A-Chance-of-Uh-Oh. TRACEE: I was waiting for this Robin! And admit to editing out that I use Cloud storage for my files. I’ll read your post again and perhaps change my ways…. Perhaps. ROBIN: (after a long sigh and possibly some muttering)During the first draft, I do a significant amount of writing in a notebook. I keep all of my notebooks in boxes (some dating back to high school) in my home office closet. While revising, I print out 3 chapters at a time to edit in pen and paper. For whatever reason, I see errors or omissions, leaps of logic, and such on paper that I overlook on a screen. Plus, I just like writing with a pen. Every night, I transcribe either the first draft from the notebook or the edits I made on paper to the “soft copy” on my laptop, saving every few minutes. Lather, rinse, repeat. CATE: Reading how compulsively everyone saves and in how many formats I have realized that thriller writers must all have anxiety disorders. Myself included TRACEE: Thanks everyone! Now I’m going to spend a few moments backing up everything I’m working on. Any other storage solutions out there? Any horror stories?