One of the hardest aspects of being a writer for me (besides continually chasing down the ever-elusive muse) is being organized about it.
More often than not, I find myself working on six or seven different stories at a shot, which keeps my “In progress” folder on my desktop busy. And as someone who’s been writing for a long time and can’t always get to a computer in time, I have a fair amount of notebooks about my house.
There’s just something about taking that pen into your hand and seeing those words spill onto the pages of a notebook, isn’t there? I’ve always felt the feeling was altogether different than typing onto a computer.
I have notebooks under my bed, in my closet, in an organizer tote by my bed, and there is always, always one in my purse and on my nightstand.
Why so many notebooks? If you’re a writer like me, and if you spend a fair amount of time at it, more than likely you know the pain of turning that computer on, settling down into your chair with your bathtub-sized cup of tea or coffee, opening that file….. and suddenly, you feel all the blood draining out of your face, leaving you with a dizzy, light-headed feeling, your eyes glued to the screen.
“File not found”. Poof. Days, weeks, months, years of work, vanished without a trace.
When I was still in high school, I lost a story that was over 250 pages, size ten font, single spaced. More recently, I found a story I’d been working on for five years had become corrupted, and the checkdisk decided that it would be a good dear and “fix it for me”. Over 1100 pages poofed overnight. 5 years of work, up in smoke.
I spent the next week begging and pleading with my computer, swearing and calling it every name I could think of (inventing some new ones along the way), opening temporary files and going off of old saves and wracking my brain to piece the story back together because I couldn’t stand the thought of letting that much work go without a fight.
I’m happy to say I got most of it back, and that because I’d been working on the story so often, and read over it so often, I didn’t lose nearly as much as I would have if I hadn’t kept my notes.
I’m a firm believer in backups, thanks to that cute little 250-poof fiasco, don’t get me wrong, and after the 1100 page snafu? I’ve become even more of a spastic saver than I used to be– one main save, a couple of backups on separate hard drives and USB drives, and my ever-existent pile of notebooks.
My husband gets it, but then he called me on the phone on his way to work the day of the 1100 fiasco and was greeted by the sounds of me panicking and hyperventilating and all-around freaking out at the thought of losing so much time and work. He doesn’t question my need for notebooks anymore, and to be fair, I’m trying to be better about my organization– I keep my creative clutter cornered in my little cubby hole in my bedroom, by my computer desk.
If you’re currently a writer or looking to become one, I hope my ordeals serve as a warning– if you’re not a spastic saver of your work? You should be. I can’t stress enough over the need for backups, whether it’s on another computer, or a separate hard-drive, or a USB, or notebooks. Always, always back up your work. It’s better to have too many copies, than to wake up to find that all your work has poofed.
I’d much rather have a pile of notebooks under my bed than the “it’s gone” heart attack any day of the week.