Writing Advice: Save, save, save

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Here in my Writing Advice posts, I like to stick to advice regarding the actual setting down and arranging of words. But a very important part of writing in this day and age is backing up your work. Let me tell you a quick story. When I was doing my second NaNoWriMo, I was using a little portable word processor called the AlphaSmart Neo. I did not yet own a laptop and needed to write wherever I was on my college campus. This machine had ten empty files for you to fill up, but each file had a word limit. When you reached the word limit, you could export the text onto a desktop computer. That’s what I had been doing and I had a good system for it, until Thanksgiving rolled around. I became busy and didn’t empty out the AlphaSmart Neo as often as I had been. When a file filled up, I tried to copy and paste it somewhere else…and I lost 9,000 words of work.

9,000 words of my hard-earned writing progress had been lost to the ephemeral nature of typed words. It can be so frightening to know that your words are simply floating around somewhere in the ether or on a flash drive somehow. You don’t have to understand how it’s saved, just save your writing progress in many places! And this isn’t just from me, this is advice from Margaret Atwood’s 10 Rules of Writing.

4. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.

I couldn’t agree more! But a memory stick is not the only method for saving your work and it’s not always trustworthy. I would suggest saving your work in ‘the cloud’ via DropBox or the new Google Docs app. In addition to that, you can even email your work to yourself to ensure that it’s somewhere. Above all, make sure to save on a regular basis so that you have the newest version of your writing saved. Don’t let internet or technology gremlins eat your work!

— Mary Egan, Jet Fuel Blog Editor

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6 thoughts on “Writing Advice: Save, save, save

  1. Lennart Lundh December 10, 2012 / 10:25 pm

    Another reason to archive and backup? That piece that’s giving you so much grief you want to pitch it could come back to life, or prompt you to use it as a springboard, one fine day. Heck, I still find the occasional lines and paragraphs from when I was in college and the Navy that provide a spark, or catch fire with just a little tweaking.

    There’s also something necessarily humbling about being reminded how far you’ve come.

    • Editor December 11, 2012 / 6:43 pm

      Very true. I would say you should never get rid of anything you write because all of that can be mined for material when you start a new project.

  2. Lennart Lundh December 11, 2012 / 9:03 pm

    This is one of those times when you’ll actually hear me voting for computers (I was a programmer for 40 years, so it’s a love-hate relationship): Digital storage is so much easier to search than those folders and folders and folders I haven’t scanned yet.

    • Editor December 12, 2012 / 7:10 pm

      Agreed! You can search digital writing so easily, it’s amazingly helpful.

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