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Foreworld Saga Authors > File Under Author Resources: Good and Bad Habits

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message 1: by Mike, Vor Dweeb (last edited Jul 11, 2016 10:05PM) (new)

Mike Voss | 60 comments Mod
In which I almost cry, but manage a stiff upper lip in the end.

It comes up every now and then, on Twitter, on blogs, in email convos: How does one handle ideas and "in-your-head" snippets of prose or dialogue that come at inconvenient times? Defining "inconvenient" as "Not at your accustomed writing place."

Because we all know the most frequent place of inconvenience is in the shower (or bath, if you're the leisurely type). Sometimes that means rushing to the computer or notepad barely dry, and if your memory is good you recover everything, and maybe add some more.

As I'm an on-the-run kinda guy (read: too lazy to get up early and give myself time to do things before getting on the bus) I sometimes lose it in my haste to make the bus on time, and forget entirely what I had rattling around in my brain.

Other times, I start recovering the notes or snippets while waiting for the bus, and on the 20 min ride to work, using the free Colornote app on my Fire HD6 tablet, which fits conveniently in a back or jacket pocket. Then I send it to myself via e-mail to deal with when I get home. At lunch time I may write my entire day's output this way and transfer to Scrivener that night - again adding to it if work hasn't wiped me out.

I also keep a spiral notebook in my backpack, to use similarly, but I've found that I seldom transcribe what I wrote there, instead using it as a basis for a newly written scene or scenes. I've stopped using the notebook lately in favor of the tablet.

I also (and here comes the bad habits part of the post) carry a USB drive to use at work if anything comes to me, loaded with .doc versions of my Scrivener chapters or sub-chapters. So I can edit as well as add original content and update at home from the thumb drive.

I had a nice 16gb Kingston USB drive I'd been using for a long time this way, and recently loaded up the .doc version of a sub-chapter, The Narrows, from Chapter 18 of Crux Passages. My intent was to do minor edits on the passage, a fight scene. I surprised myself instead by rewriting much of the scene from scratch, with little reference to the original, until I had 1200+ words that I felt were vastly superior to the original, and I was excited to get home and continue where I'd left off. I used the Windows function to properly and safely eject the thumb drive from the computer, as I always do, and went about smugly thinking what a triumph the morning's work had been.

Before long, I thought of a question that required re-opening the file and reviewing what I had written. Put the USB drive back in and clicked on Computer to access it. No Kingston drive. Hmmm. Refreshing didn't work. Rebooting with the drive in didn't work (and that always works!) Googled to find a method to Scan for New Devices in Device Manager. No joy. Rinse and repeat all efforts. No. Effing. Joy. Confirmed when I got home. Home computer can't see the Kingston drive either. It's dead, Jim.

So one of my best efforts - on a fight scene, no less, the hardest thing for me to write under the best of circumstances - gone forever. There may be a utility that will find and recover data from a USB drive. I'll look into that. The free ones I could find on CNET don't look like they will do the job, so I may have to spend a few bucks. I'll look into that after my Tuesday writing session - in which I will refer to notes I made that night in preparation to duplicate (and maybe improve!) my efforts at rewriting the scene. I'm convinced it'll come out newly improved once more - because otherwise I'd cry. And I'll want to recover the lost scene to compare :-)

So, lesson learned. Never rely solely on an external drive to do this sort of thing. If I had just printed it out and/or emailed it to myself I'd be in fine shape (but without those shiny new improvements coming Tuesday). Another alternative, btw, that I have used before when I forgot the USB drive: typing directly into an email to yourself.

Here's hoping all your writing is safe and sound, and backed up to every place you can find, including the attic and garage.

message 2: by C.B. (new)

C.B. Matson Michael, it's the day-job gods meting out justice... yeah, it happens. Once wrote for an entire 16-hour flight, everything on the thumb drive, same results. The best planned backups work wonderfully well, until they don't.

Lawd, twitter is bad enough... the writing obsession can jus' dog a man's days. Best thing is to confine yourself to post-it notes; that way it doesn't become a huge time suck. Stick 'em to the inside of your wallet and transcribe 'em at home.

Hadn't spotted this post... hope you've reconstructed everything by now. Safe writing all.

message 3: by Mike, Vor Dweeb (new)

Mike Voss | 60 comments Mod
C.B. Matson wrote: "hope you've reconstructed everything by now

Rewrote that sucker from scratch - and amazing how my desire to recover the lost version dwindled away to...nothing? Yep, a mild curiosity is all that remains. When I review that section tomorrow as part of my last (fingers crossed) edits before I read through the full ms in prep for a beta compile, I'm convinced I'll make it even better than the lost version could possibly have been. You come to realize after doing this for a while that your best version of any sentence, paragraph, chapter, or entire story is the one you wrote last. And you can always make it better by writing it again. Until it's almost a shame you have to finally stop and say, DONE! And on to the next one...

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