Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why You Should Save (AND BACKUP!!!) Your Work

What Marlin and Dory found in THE ABYSS... no
lost stories, though... :(

While checking out posts for the "Oh, The Early Work" Blogfest, I noticed a pattern of people saying things like "unfortunately I've lost all my childhood stories I wrote" or "yeah somehow all my work got deleted" before they went on to describe their early work. But it isn't just recently that I've been hearing this kind of thing. I've seen a lot of people say they've lost their work because they didn't save or back it up and then it got deleted or flushed down the toilet or thrown into the great, giant abyss.


Wait, I don't think you got the message yet:

SAAAAAAAAAAAAVVVVVVVVEEEE!!!!!!!!! BACKUP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So WHY am I so passionate about saving and backing up your work? Wait, before I tell you, if you're working on something right now, go save it. You did? All right, good. We can continue.

So, why does it even MATTER if you don't save/backup your work? Especially, like, old embarassing stories you wrote when you were little and childish and didn't know anything? Or even some of the stories you write now that you know you're not going to want later because you're just kind of barfing stuff onto the page anyway?

Well, let's make a list.

1. You really DON'T know if you'll want to use those ideas later.

Let's say that you, I don't know, wrote this weird paragraph-long prologue-sort of thing one time when you were bored at Christmas (and you wanted to try out your new office folder you got) and you pretty much thought you'd never use it again. BUT THEN later you had a whole bunch of other ideas and then it turned out that you could actually incorporate that old prologue thing you wrote at Christmas into your new ideas. And you gasp and realize you actually KEPT that prologue and it's in your filing cabinet RIGHT NOW and you are so HAPPY because for once when you're writing you ACTUALLY KNOW WHERE TO START. And then the story that branched from the prologue becomes a trilogy and it's all because you kept that one paragraph.

Yup, it's true... I'm the kind of person that loves getting office
supplies for Christmas. Oh yeah, I'm that cool.

SO if you didn't catch that, it is AWESOME if, when you realize you can use an idea you had way back when, it turns out that you still have some scrappy writings to start from. It is quite awesome not to have to start from a blank page, right writers? I think this would be the biggest reason to save your work.

2. You can see how far you've come.

 Obviously as you write more, you'll become better at the craft of writing (as happens with anything you practise). When you look back at old stuff you've written years ago, you realize exactly how far you have come, and I think that's pretty cool. You feel proud of yourself when you see that.

3. You can laugh at your silly self later.

I had a fascination with dragons when I was younger...
quite a few of my stories featured them. GO DRAGONS!!

Kind of like I did here. This one isn't quite as useful a reason as the other two, but still. It is fun.

And as for backing up your work....

4. Your work WILL get lost/deleted/whathaveyou.
And guess what? If you have backups, then that won't matter. Go out there and figure out a way to backup your work automatically, or make extra copies and store them in different places, or whatever. But do it, in case you lose your work or it gets deleted.

I'm not the best person to ask exactly how you should save or backup your work (although while you're writing I think you should press Ctrl/Command+S after every sentence) but I would like to tell you that YES, IT IS WORTH IT to put the effort in to take the time to set up something so that your work gets backed up in case something happens. Better safe than sorry, right?


Why do you think it is important to save or backup your work? How do you go about backing up your work?


  1. Most of my old work was handwritten. My only worry is:
    will someone else accidentally throw them out
    how will I save them in a fire?

  2. After going through my own little file clean up a few years ago, I decided that keeping external drives was the best way to go for me. Story ideas and works in progress stay on something I keep a hold of to use when at home or whenever I can steal a few minutes to write.

    This is a great reminder post. Thank you.

  3. I've become so obsessive about saving my work, ever since I lost a story I was working on. I can't remember which story it was now, but at the time that I lost it I thought it was the end of the world. I cried for days, and was so sure I'd never get over it.

  4. I've lost a few things but my dad is an expert at backing things up so he has everything set up for me so I don't lose anything. :)

  5. Old files that we saved can refresh forgotten instructions, and these can be used to improve current capabilities. As backing up data helped me evaluate my approach on making a project, you may use your saved files to work on your current skills. You have to come up with a plan on how to back up your files to protect them from damage and loss.

    Ruby Badcoe


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