The Mystery of the Missing Chunk

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 ALL.docx
StoryTitle DONE.docx
StoryTitle (bits).docx
StoryTitle (FINISHED).docx
StoryTitle (FINAL).docx
StoryTitle revised final.docx
StoryTitle COMPLETE.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 Have a superseded folder where you dump the old drafts, but still have quick access to them.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!




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  1. I wholeheartedly recommend WordPress. One of the best things I ever downloaded/signed up for.

    1. I mean Dropbox. Brain isn’t working today.

      1. It’s Monday – no one’s brain is working 😛 I have Dropbox, but never used it for backing up stories…for some strange reason :S I will investigate!

        1. Best thing ever.

          1. I used Evernote for a bit, but was never happy with the text editor. Makes sense to do it in Word and back up on Dropbox, don’t know why I never fully embraced it.

  2. It’s so frustrating to lose work!

    1. Extremely! It will never be the same as the “original”…although that might not always be the worst thing in the world 😛

  3. Maddening when it happens! I backup finished work to an external hard drive and I e-mail drafts to myself… but I don’t do it after every writing session and you have just reminded me that that is exactly what I should be doing!

    1. Yup, that’s what happened this time. So lost in the words I didn’t think about backing up 🙁

  4. Hope you’ve retrieved enough from your personal memory – the one in your head – to write it again!

    1. I’ve written down the synopsis and as much as I can remember from the draft, so it’s mostly retrievable, it will just be different and I know I lost a few good lines I won’t recall.

      1. Might be you’ll write some other great lines. I’ve found that a number of times when I’ve restarted something I’ve tried before but given up on, the words have come out in a similar way, but better, more refined. I think once you’ve written something, it’s kind of imprinted in your brain. It is for me, anyway.

        1. Yeah, I get that when I leave notes in the office and want to carry on with a story at home. I rewrite from memory then when I get back to my notes I’m like “what the hell is this crap?!”. Same for copying up from longhand notes – always improves from writing from the half inane scribblings that I thought were great when they were being penned.

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