So Jesus and Satan are sitting in the café sipping coffee bragging to one another. Satan says, “Dude, I’m a much better writer than you.”
Jesus laughs and says, “Hell no! I’m a better writer.” This goes on for a few minutes until Satan proposes a challenge.
“It’s 1pm. I bet I can write a better story than you by the end of the day.”
“You’re on! Be back here at midnight with your work.” Jesus answers, and they both leave.
Both diligently begin tapping away at their keyboards and both make great progress through the course of the day. But a well-timed thunderstorm (blame Zeus) rolls in at 11pm and knocks out power for a few minutes. Jesus is back at the 24-hour café at 11:30 patiently waiting and enjoying a divine slice of I don’t know, let’s say….angel cake. The devil bursts in the door at 11:59pm grumbling to himself and sits down at the table across from Jesus.
“All done?” Jesus asks and leans back with a smile.
“Yeah, had to rewrite it though, god-damn *badumbump*storm knocked out power. Only got 900 or so words, and it’s crap.”
“Wow, what a shame. A travesty I’d say,” Jesus says, and plops down a 5,000 word masterpiece.
“How the hell *badumbump* were you able to write so much since the storm?!?!?” Satan yells, steam bursting out of his nose and ears.
A patron sitting behind Satan leans in and answers.
The point of the story is simple. Save your work. Save early. Save often. Save the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then back it up and save it again. USB Flash drives (aka thumbdrives) are available practically anywhere for under $10. Buy one and when you’re done writing for the day, save your work on the thumb drive. Save it on your computer’s hard drive. Then log into your email and send the file to yourself. Dropbox it to yourself. This way, you’ll have it on your computer, your thumb drive, and “off site” on your email account or dropbox.
If you’re working on different drafts of a story or doing revisions, I also highly recommend naming the file with the date of your last and revision number. And if you’re part of a writers critique community, also include your name in the filename. Here’s an example:
Doing this makes life a whole lot easier for yourself and your writing peers trying to figure out who submitted what. When editing other writers’ work, I also include my name and the date and revision of the last edit when returning work to the author. This is especially important when working with a client or editor; you do not want to be applying suggested changes from your editor while your editor is working on a different version of the file at the same time. Mass confusion and a lot of copy/pasting between different files wastes valuable time and can lead to oversights.
Trees may disagree, but it also cannot hurt to print out a hard copy of your work after finishing a draft. If you’re cheap like me, you can even cut costs by lowering your font size down a couple (standard is 12pt font, print out drafts in 10pt font, squeeze those margins a bit, condense the work to single space, and if you’re REALLY cheap like me – change your font to Century Gothic or Times New Roman, as they use the least amount of ink…true story!)
Inexpensive software is out now that can scan printed documents and incorporate them into text with few to no errors if you somehow happen to lose all your digital files. When it comes to writing, the five minutes it takes to back up your work during each session may save you hundreds of hours down the line.
Lastly, save everything you write. The good, the bad and the godawful. Just a few months ago I was working with a fellow writer who submitted a feature length script (about 120 pages – one page per minute of screen time.) I said that due to the complexity of the story, it might be better suited for television. He then told us the original draft ran about 250 pages (waaaay too long for a feature length spec script.) He then confessed that when he cropped the script down to 120 pages, he didn’t save the work he cut. Doh!!! Major Doh!
Save your work. Save it all. It may not work for the story you’re doing now, but you never know when and where it might fit.
Okay I’m done with this blog entry. And yes it has been uploaded, and saved to my hard drive and thumb drive. Time for a slice of…angel cake?
Now Get Writing!!!