Writing and Publishing

Why You Should Save All Your Writing

It’s disconcerting to admit, but I’ve been writing for 40 years. (Would you believe me if I said I started at birth? I didn’t think so.)

Much of my early work has been forever lost. This includes school assignments, teenage angst-poetry, and short stories. While there would not be much of worth in that batch—and society will likely benefit through its permanent loss—I do wish I had kept them.

It would be good to be able to look back and see my progress as a writer. It would have been affirming to see the sheer quantity of what I’ve written. And some of what I wrote then might have been fodder for new works today.

Even more upsetting is that I have no record of more than 100 columns that were published in the 1980s. I didn’t keep the original version submitted or save the approved printed results. While some of those columns would have been dated or too specific to be of value now, others could have been adapted, repurposed, or put into an anthology.

Alas, those possibilities are no longer options.

So take it from one who learned the hard way, saves everything you write, everything you submit, and everything that has been published. You never know when it might come in handy.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Writing and Publishing

Why I Back Up My Writing

Early in my career, I worked as a tech writer. I knew the importance of making copies of my work, so I would faithfully make a backup each Friday as I wrapped up the workweek. One Friday was particularly hectic and in a rush to begin my weekend, I postponed making my backup, planning to do it first thing Monday morning. That was my first mistake.

My second error is that I left my computer running. Over the weekend, a power spike corrupted the files. As a result, I lost over 40 hours of carefully crafted writing; I needed to revert to my backup that was now over a week old.

Although dismayed at my shortsightedness, I immediately begin reconstructing the lost work. Fortunately, the second pass went much quicker than the first iteration; I was able to recompose everything by midday Wednesday. As a bonus, I think the second version was superior to the first.

Having experienced firsthand the importance of frequently backing up my work, I became fastidious in doing so; it is a practice that continues to this day. Not only do I make backups on a network drive, but I also use an automatic off-site backup service. And for writers who feel they can’t afford the $40 or so annual fee for such a service, they should at least sign up for a free Gmail account and email themselves a copy of their writing each time they finish working.

Some people still aren’t following this advice. Periodically, I hear of aspiring writers who lose their entire book when their hard drive crashes.

Please make sure I never hear your name mentioned in such a devastating story.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.