Seriously, before you read this post…find your latest novel/short/poem/screenplay and hit SAVE! Hit it multiple times, hit it with vigour and purpose, hit it with a large tree branch ripped from the nearest Larch! Don’t do that last one, it will probably do more computer harm than good.
I’m telling you this because I’ve just lost a relatively large chunk of my latest short story and the deadline is in TWO days…luckily I’m in good stead with the editor, so he’s (VERY GENEROUSLY, thankyouthankyouthankyou, I owe you a pint) allowing me a smidgen of extra time to rewrite the missing parts.
But I’m still fuming at my stupidity, usually I have backups coming out the wazoo – drafts in varying stages of completion, emails back and forth between office and home, print outs littering my home office and living room, and snippets of dialogue, characterisation, etc. saved on my phone and written on the back of past due bills. I can’t fathom how I let myself lose the only copy I had!
SO…use my mistake as a warning. Back up your work! Save it to more than one computer, email a copy to yourself, or a friend for safe keeping! Make sure you have access to it at all times. And if it gets a little confusing keeping track of which one is the most up to date, then come up with a clever way of titling the documents so you know which is which.
My usual attempts at that seem to always be something like this:
StoryTitle – finished.docx
StoryTitle revised final.docx
…so, no sodding help at all really! Give ’em a number or a letter or something that can be updated easily. Have a superseded folder where you dump the old drafts, but still have quick access to them.
But most importantly of all, regularly hit that bloody save button!