One of the questions I get asked most as an author is ‘What advice would you give aspiring writers?’ and I’ve always given the same answer: Just write.
I still wholeheartedly believe in that tip (there is nothing more important to your writing career than actually writing), but my own stupidity combined with rushing combined with not taking my own advice has made me reassess.
So, now, my biggest tip to aspiring writers/any writers/people in general is this…
BACK UP YOUR WORK
Yep. That old chestnut. Due to my sheer incompetence, I lost over seven thousand words of a novella – a fair chunk considering it’s almost a fifth of the entire book. Argh, just writing it makes me want to tear my hair out.
Another bit of advice, if you go to update your writing folder, make sure you’re not saving over the new stuff while rocking out to early 2000’s pop. I saved over everything on my hard drive, under the assumption that the newer copies were on my computer. They weren’t.
Whilst I see my situation as 110% my fault, it’s just impressed the importance of backing up work. Here’s some ways to make sure you don’t completely ruin your life.
- System restore points – Windows computers have something called System Protection, which is great when it’s switched on (have a guess; was my system protection switch in the on or off position?), and will create restore points automatically, or manually, which I’ve just done a million times. In your Control Panel go to System > System Protection and then configure the drives you want.
- USB sticks are your friends – Except when you lose them, so don’t. The amount of times I’ve thought I’d lost some work, only to find it floating around on my Darth Vader USB stick is crazy. Feel the power of backing up your work. Thanks, Darthy.
- Email yo self – The easiest way of backing up work. Email the file to yourself and make sure to name the email so you can find it easily later on. Thanks to my lack of foresight I have about fifty emails with stupid names (Writey McNovel, Tappy-Tappy El Keyboard) that contain old versions of my novels. Thanks, Past Aprille.
- Save to another device – My laptop is the one I end up toting around the place (the Kangaroo Island Ferry, a balcony in Nusa Dua, Indonesia and poolside on the Gold Coast). I back up the work to both my laptop’s hard drive and my external hard drive. I’ve password protected the laptop in case I lose it (not a stretch of the imagination the way I’ve been going lately) and I try to back up the external hard drive as soon as I can, except this time it went mighty pear-shaped. As it is, the laptop may contain some of the words I’ve lost. I’m too scared to look, if I’m honest.
Once upon a time, I finished my first novel and promptly deleted it. Without realising, I emptied my recycle bin, played the Sims for an hour, and then realised what I’d done. Through my tears and tantrums, I managed to download some recovery software (your best bud if you can find one that doesn’t suck – please feel free to enlighten me).
The software located the entire novel, showed it off in a little preview box, then asked for sixty bucks. In a fit of teenage rage, I clicked everything on the screen (yeah feel the power) until I accidentally clicked on the file preview and realised I could highlight words. I CTRL A’d everything, then copied and pasted it into a word file. Novel was saved and I felt like a hacker.
Now, I’ve learnt that valuable lesson again. You always think it won’t happen to you (I’ll be super careful with this one!) but it does. It really does. It really really does. If you’re reading this, I want you to back up your work right now. RIGHT NOW. I will know if you haven’t.
I hope you go away with two valuable lessons.
1. Back up your work
2. The Pussycat Dolls will distract you with their catchy tunes and make you careless. DAMN YOU PUSSYCAT DOLLS.
When I grow up, I want to be more cautious.