So Obvious I Never Think to Talk About It…
Back up your work.
That’s the topic and I have told the story many times of how I wrote a short story per week from January 1st 1982 onward and sold some of those. But I have no copies of any of them except the ones that were published, or in the mail at the time, because in May of 1985 my house burnt down, and since I was working on a typewriter, I lost most of those stories and the two novels I had written.
Seeing two novels you wrote as nothing but piles of flaked ash is not something you ever want to experience.
And I lost a large number of poems I had written as well. I have a few copies of the poems I published. The fact that I was able to go back to writing after that kind of loss of work tells you just how driven I am. But getting back to writing took most of a year. Just couldn’t see the point because back then I still thought the final story was more important than the actual writing process.
So how in this modern world do you back up your writing?
I would imagine there are as many ways as writers, so what I am going to detail here are the basics of what you need to do to have it totally safe.
WHILE WORKING ON A STORY OR NOVEL…
1… Back up to some secondary source as you work on a project. I back up to a thumb drive and carry it in my pocket at all times.
WHEN THE STORY OR NOVEL IS DONE DO ALL OF THE FOLLOWING…
2… Back up to something LIKE A THUMB DRIVE you can physically walk out of the building that very hour and store away from your home or writing office. Take it to your day job and toss it in the back of a drawer or something.
3… Print out a paper copy. (Do not wait until it is proofed, just do it at once.) Most of our print copies go to files in our office away from our writing offices and much of it right now is in a storage unit five miles away.
4… Back up to a cloud storage source of some sort. Do this at once as well.
5… Back it up as well to a second computer, even if the computer is an old one still just running for storage. If you don’t have one, go buy a used one cheap just for storage. Replace the old computer yearly.
EVERY MONTH OF YOUR WRITING LIFE…
6… Back up ALL of your writing onto two thumb drives. Put one in an off-site storage, keep the other in your pocket or purse. I actually carry two full back-ups of all my writing on new thumb drives in my pocket. One I put in our office. Every month I replace both out with brand new 32G drives with every word I have written since I got to computers in 1987.
Of course, WMG Publishing has copies of all my published work as well and have back-up storage there as well, but I don’t count that at all. Not in my control.
In other words, I treat my writing like it has immense value and I back it up all the time.
Anything less than those six steps done in one way or another and you are not doing it right. If you think those steps take too much time, what does that say about your opinion of your own work???
AND NEVER EXPECT ONE SOURCE OR DEVICE OR ANOTHER PERSON TO LAST FOR MORE THAN A FEW MONTHS.
Do all six steps, control them all yourself, and you won’t lose years of your work and take another year to recover, if you ever do.
And then after you are doing that, make sure one or two trusted people in your family know what you are doing and how to find your back-ups and then, if you are really smart, talk with someone about how you want your writing handled if something happens to you. You know, like Covid. Or a speeding bus.
But get everything backed up as I outlined above in one form or another. And don’t write me and tell me why I don’t need to do one or two of those steps UNLESS you have lost 150 short stories and two novels in a fire. Then we can talk.