Are You Sure Your Novels Are Safe?19:17
I have a pretty good system in place for backing up my novels if I do say so myself. Each one is stored in multiple locations on my computer, in case of file corruption. Many few reside in Google Drive, some live in my emails, and a few live on a USB drive. The files themselves are labelled with a title, draft number, and year completed, and are all very easy to find. All the books most important to me are perfectly safe. Well, so I thought. But, as I’ve had occasion to be reminded, no matter how good the system, it can still fail, and you can still end up searching frantically for a book that has simply disappeared.
My writing is all done in Scrivener mainly, with brief forays into Word. I love Scrivener, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for good writing. But in order to save Word Documents and the like to your computer, you have to export them into a new file format first, creating another step. Which is usually fine. I normally wait until the end of the draft to do so, and then back everything up neatly. I admit, I don’t have a great system in place for backing things up in the middle of a draft yet, but I haven’t lost anything then either, so I’m sure that’s a lesson for a later date. But what happens when, at the end of the draft, you’re so busy prepping for Camp NaNo that you forget to export the document properly and back it up to all those multiple locations you’re so proud of?
You lose an entire draft.
This was me today. On attempting to open Draft 6 of The Crystal Tree for a read-through prior to editing, I found I couldn’t locate the file at all. Cue a desperate search for the missing document. What had happened to my amazing system? Well, I completed the novel in March, barely three weeks before Camp NaNo, and in all the rush to prepare for that, I forgot to back everything up properly. Scrivener is a lovely reliable program. It saves everything every two seconds. I had no worried about losing that. Until I searched for the Scrivener project in the hopes of downloading another copy of the draft, and found that almost all my Scrivener projects were missing too.
To be honest, I still don’t know where they went. I didn’t delete them, and I still have the ones from the two latest Camp NaNos, but most of them are gone. For most of them, it’s not a huge drama. I have the drafts safely backed up. Except for The Crystal Tree Draft 6. It slipped through the cracks and was lost.
I searched for ages, dredging through the bowels of two different computers in an attempt to recover even a partially written draft. Anything that might save me from having to do all that work over again. And finally, I did locate something, hidden in a mislabelled file in the wrong part of the computer, away from my beautiful system of back-ups. A single copy of the sixth draft, one hundred percent complete, one hundred percent beautiful, and one hundred precent backed up now, hopefully never to go missing again.
Even though my system of backing stuff up is pretty good, and most of my novels are perfectly safe, things fall through the cracks. When life gets busy, or Camp NaNo sneaks up on you, it’s very easy to forget that you haven’t made sure your latest draft is safe. And it’s scarily easy to lose all that work. I’ve learnt this lesson before, and I’m sure I’ll learn it again the future. But today, I’d like to give you a gentle reminder. When was the last time you backed up your novels? If your hard drive fried, would your writing be safe? If you’re not sure, maybe spent a few minutes uploading everything to Google Drive, your online email account, or anywhere else on the internet where they will be safe. Our job as writers is hard enough at the best of times without losing months of work in a hardware malfunction.
How many places do you back your novel up in? Have you ever permanently lost a novel? What is your system for backing up a novel during the process of writing/editing, or afterwards?