Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why I Obsessively Save While Writing...

A friend of mine, who is also a writer, recently lost an entire novella on accident. In a stroke of luck, her husband, who happens to be an IT guy, saved the day for her. Definitely a lucky lady.

I had a similar experience in my 20's. I was writing a novel, and for a month solid had suffered from the most stubborn case of Writer's Block, ever. I mean, for almost two months I. Got. Nothing.

Then, miraculously, the floodgates opened. I started writing one evening, and the words flowed like milk and honey out of my cobwebbed brain. Everything came out in a rush, and it was some of the best writing I'd ever done. And I was mentally patting myself on the back every paragraph or so. It was AWESOME.

After two hours of pounding away on the keyboard, the air around me felt magical. I had written some serious awesomeness. Feeling a bit drained, I ran to the kitchen for a small snack. (We writers do that, no matter what we say. Eating while writing provides the same release as eating popcorn in front of a movie. :-)

Anyway, as I trudged back to my computer with my glass of milk and handful of cookies, I realized the computer was off. Why? To this day I will never know. Power spike? Outage flicker?

I dropped my cookies and milk, screaming NOOOOOOOOO! and powered up my computer, frantically chewing my nails as I did so, staring at the screen, beads of sweat forming on my brow. Why was I so freaked out?


Autosave wasn't something I had the foresight to program my computer to do at the time (It was the early 90's, computers were simply not as fabulous as today), and for some reason, I had been so distracted by my amazing bout of writing, I had not thought to save before I rose from my desk.

It booted back up. Windows loaded. I clicked on Word.

IT WAS GONE. ALL OF IT. All I had was the same story I had hours before, with no additions. The amazing 3K I had typed was lost. GONZO.

I screamed, I cried, I knashed my teeth. I hurriedly sat down and tried to duplicate what I had written the last couple hours, but it just wasn't the same. I never got those chapters back.

Since then, I am an obsessive fan of the "Save" button. I save after I pause in my typing. I save anytime I make the tiniest edit. When I conclude a writing session, I save it all, and just for good measure, I save again. Two days a week I back up my entire document files onto a 32-gig flash drive, and keep it in my handbag in case the house burns down while I'm out. And every few weeks I update the 32-gig flashdrive I have attached to my car keys in case my handbag burns down at the same time my house burns down.

I have learned my lesson. Let my experience be one to you. Enable your Autosave option. Hit the Save button. BACK UP YOUR FILES REGULARLY.

Life will be so much happier if you do.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Let the (Writing) Games Begin!!

I am writing a new novel. I have outlined it, start-to-finish, and I have a clear road map to write, but I'm in full research mode.

It's been tedious work, but the reward has been huge. I now have a composition notebook (with tabs) where I can look up all the references I need if I'm writing somewhere offline and need to look something up. It's all "organized" into one space. Now I just need to WRITE the durn thing! Research usually precludes the writing, because I can't write until I have all the facts. I guess that's just the way I'm wired. 

Can I say I LOVE Google for research? I will by typing along, caught up in the atmosphere, but then I will hit a snag where I'm not sure the direction I'm taking is historically accurate. I pop onto Google, do a quick fact-check, and back to the story I go! LOVE IT.

I have a lot of writing goals this year. Write this novel, edit it and submit it, then I need to edit two other novels and submit them to agents. I have a few mainstream novels I have written that I'd like to see on bookshelves as well, but obviously that depends on whether a butterfly flaps its wings in Cairo or a dog barks in Namibia more than four times...right? (It seems there is no formula these days, agents are so unpredictable!) We will see what happens as 2013 plays out! I definitely have hope.

Back to researching! Well, after the 958476 things I have to do today. Maybe tonight...