How to Prevent Every Writer’s Worst Nightmare: Losing Your Work…

by Blake Atwood  on The Write Life site:

Beware: What you’re about to read is a real-life horror story as told in The Write Life Community Facebook group.


“Gone. ALL of it. Gone.

Every old idea I ever jotted down. Gone.

Every short story, script, chapters of multiple books. Gone.

An entire universe of superhero ideas. Poems, short stories… gone.

I have NO IDEA how it happened. None.

I can reason out how I may have lost some things, but most everything was so redundantly copied in various places. Yet somehow, it is all gone.”

This is every writer’s worst nightmare.

Losing writing isn’t new

Saving our words from annihilation has been a problem that’s long plagued writers, even before computers made our writing lives so much easier (yet simultaneously more complex).

In 1922, Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, lost his works-in-progress and his carbon copies when they were stolen during a train ride to Switzerland. Hemingway recounts the horror in A Moveable Feast: “I was sure she could not have brought the carbons too….It was true alright and I remember what I did in the night after I let myself into the flat and found it was true.”

If Hemingway had written on a computer instead of a typewriter, maybe he wouldn’t have lost those pages. Then again, if you’ve ever lost your words due to a bad hard drive, a power outage or a Microsoft Word error, you know that’s not true.

In fact, even one of the most technologically sophisticated companies of our day almost lost an entire movie because, unbeknownst to them, their backups had been failing for a month prior to a major incident. Had a supervising technical director not had the only extra copy of the entire film on a hard drive at home, Toy Story 2 may have been completely erased.

In other words, whether you write on paper or with a keyboard, the specter of losing your work is always lurking just behind your shoulder.

So, let’s kill the ghosts of future lost words.

Find out more at:

A writer’s four-step backup action plan

TSRA Bonus Recommendation:

Email your updated MS, to yourself, at the end of each day you’ve worked on it.

The email with the latest date will tell you which is the latest version.

Worst case scenario: you lose ONE DAY of work only…

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One thought on “How to Prevent Every Writer’s Worst Nightmare: Losing Your Work…

  1. Good recommendation, Chris. I always save my WIP to a thumb drive at the end of each day’s writing. I’m now planning on saving all of my work to an external hard drive. I’ve considered saving to a cloud, but not sure I trust them. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

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