My Yearly Reminder to Backup Your Work

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Recently, I came across a funky little article that reminded me of a story I had written. My story was unfinished, but I've become less and less afraid of leaving unfinished work. So, re-inspired to return to the story, I looked for it in the last place I thought I left it.

It was gone.

How could that happen? I wondered to myself. I had left it in an app that I really don't use anymore, but it supposedly backed up my work onto Google Drive. So, I felt fairly confident not babysitting it anymore. I had other stories in there. I even have a half-finished attempt at a story about outer space (not an attempt I make often). 

Examining closely, I looked in each file. I knew the story had been written in 2020 because it was inspired by the pandemic. I dismissed my 2019 and older stories, regretfully realizing that this story wasn't there. I searched through files in Google Drive and combed over old emails thinking I had emailed it to myself.

Nowhere. It was gone.

Later that night, silently kicking myself for having lost this story, I reminded myself how important it was to backup my work. Relying on one app, or computer to save your work is a fool's game. As writers, we never know when a piece of writing will scrub up clean and become something polished enough to submit. And how know where things can go from there? 

Then it hit me. 

Previously I had been looking up the story by one particularly unique feature: mannequins. I knew I would find that story by looking it up with that word. It's my second story featuring that element, and I was quite proud of the direction this new one took it. Until I decided to look up the story by another element: an Italian restaurant.

I looked up those words in Google Drive, doubt lingering in the corners, and lo and behold, I found it. I found my untitled story. Turns out, despite featuring a mannequin, I hadn't used that word at all. 

So, ladies and gentleman, as I type this on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, with light streaming through the windows, I implore you to do only one thing today:

Backup your work. 

No matter how terrible you think your story is, or how incomplete it is, or how outdated it appears, backup your writing. Save it in a flash drive, dump your stories into a DropBox account, or print it out and shove the work into boxes. Whatever you need to do, make sure you have a backup copy of your work. Don't rely on one solitary piece of technology to hold your precious babies.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be taking my own advice. Happy saving everyone!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--You're right. Even the work that stinks needs to be saved. You never know when you might want to retrieve a tiny nugget from that pile of poop in order to begin a new piece.

Great advice... advice I need to follow. ;)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Ugh. Been there, done that, forgot, too. Thanks for the reminder. :-)

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Nicole, many years ago when my computer went on the blink, I lost many stories I hadn't backed up. Lesson learned, a hard one at that. Thanks for this important reminder for all of us writers.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

What a horrible, frantic feeling! I'm so glad you located your story but if you will excuse me. The computer tells me it has backed things up. My tech guy has assured me it is there. But in light of your experience. . .

Renee Roberson said...

My husband is the one in our house who constantly tells me to back up my work and bought me an external drive in order to do so. Every few months he asks "When was the last time you backed up your computer?" I guess I should quit grumbling about him "nagging me" and take your lesson to heart. Glad you ended up finding the piece you were searching for!

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