Friday, January 7, 2011

Can you replicate your writing?


Every time I write a sentence or two, I hit the save button.

I'm petrified of losing my writing. What if I can't rewrite that sentence I just crafted?
Maybe this is just me, but I think about this all the time, especially if I write something I'm half-proud of.

Do you think you could recreate your writing if you had to, if someone stole all your files and *poof* it was gone? Just wondering. Random Friday Thought, here.

And in case you are worried about permanently losing your stuff, check out this old post of mine about Backing Up Your Writing: Is it Secret? Is it Safe?

Don't let MY fear become YOUR reality.

60 comments:

E.J. Wesley said...

Happy New Year, Lydia!

I don't think that I could ever replicate anything I've written 100% as so much of what I write is heavily influenced by my mood, or the music I'm listening to, a movie I've seen, or a conversation I've overheard. The original 'flavor' so to speak would be lost.

However, I do think I could approximate, especially if it's something that I'm quite a ways into and have a pretty firm grasp on the characters, etc.

I'd always hate to lose any writing, but I'm really paranoid to in the very early stages of a project, I think because the idea itself is in such a fragile state.

EJW

Liza said...

I save mine like crazy and then back it up to a thumb drive after every session.

Liz Pezzuto said...

Command+S and I - we're good buddies. That and my backup flash drive!

If I lost my work I don't know what I'd do. Just knowing all that effort was gone would really hurt my motivation, and I think it would be really hard to recreate what I had written. I don't think it would ever be exact, and trying to remember and make it exact would be a very painful process.

Saving and backing up are very important for us to be vigilant about.

salarsenッ said...

Ugh...I've been there. Though still a newbie, when I was 'just born' a writer I made that horrible mistake of not backing up. Actually, I don't even think I knew how. Duh... My hard drive crashed. Believe it or not, some awesome clerk at a Staples store recovered my file for me. Love to him forever!! (...even though it was my first manuscript which was horrid...)

The Red Angel said...

I could TRY to rewrite a piece if I lost it, but it would never be the same or as good as when I first wrote it. In fact, often I think of a really good sentence as I fall asleep or during class, but when I wake up and scramble to add it in my notepad afterwards, I can never fully remember it.

If I lost a whole book (such as the time I lost a 60-page manuscript after my computer broke down! God forbid THAT ever happening again), I definitely wouldn't be able to write it as I did before. I'd end up recreating it in a whole different way.

~TRA

http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

Laura Pauling said...

I definitely don't save every two sentences, but I do frequently. And I back up. And no, I don't think I could recreate the same exact thing - but who knows, it could be better. Just hard work.

Magan said...

Wait...there is just one button I can push to save without having to go up to the save button on my word document? Why don't people tell me these things????

I actually save...alot...and then I back up my files every few chapters. One time I lost my flash drive and I cried for a good hour till I found it in my junk drawer...

I feel the save and replication pain...I don't even want to think about trying to replicate what I wrote.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I hit save after every paragraph! And no, I don't think I could replicate it if I tried.

Kelsey said...

I do the exact same thing. One time my work was closed unsaved - it was like taking a bullet.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Thinking about it now, I don't know how often I save. I do know I save every time I stop or even pause. The only time it's a problem is when I'm on a roll and I've written several paragraphs very quickly - if the power burps between my last save (or the last auto-save) and the outage, I lose things I can't rebuild. Been there, done that, and it hurts too much to lose large chunks of work. Save save save.

Thanks for the keyboard shortcut, Lydia. I need to start using that. =o)

jbchicoine said...

I've had to do that very thing. Sometimes I rewrite it better, but most of the time I get that nagging feeling that I didn't do it quiter right. Now, I'm mush more diligent about 'saving' and 'backing-up'.

Jon Paul said...

I share your fear. Famously, long before the era of computers, Ernest Hemingway lost a valise that held all his writings until that time--and there were no copies. What a difficult blow that must have been.

Old Kitty said...

I'm atrocious at saving my work! Terrible!!!! And when I realise that I have lost it - I tear my hair out trying to remember but I'm sure I never recreate the same twice!! Bad habit for me!!!

Thanks for the link!! Take care
x

lovedfromthestart said...

Nope, can't recreate it as well as it was before :( so I have a backup hard drive that plugs into my computer.

Kelly said...

I think I could get close to replicating it but I don't think it would be complete. I would cry if I lost my manuscript!
I occasionally email it to my second email address for saving. Plus thankfully, my beta readers have a copy too!

Giles Hash said...

I don't think I could replicate it very well, but whenever I back up my files, I e-mail them to myself. That way I don't have to pay for cloud storage, and I always have access to the files no matter what computer I'm using.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I think I might openly cry if I lost all my novel files. No one can accurately re-produce exactly what they wrote. But if you're a good writer -- and you are a good writer, Lydia, then you would produce a credible replacement. Still, sometimes the lightning hits just right, and the turn of the prose is magical.

Saving our work on an external source is always wise. Have a great end of week, Roland

Angela Felsted said...

When I first started my poetry blog, it was to have a place to store my writing that wasn't connected to my computer. So I understand this fear.

Now I have a thumb drive I use to back up all my writing stuff. Now that I think about it, it's about time to back my stuff up again.

Matthew Rush said...

This is actually one of my biggest fears. I could tell the story again, sure, but some of the wording and prose would change, there is no way I could remember all of it.

For backing up I use a combination of gmail, dropbox.com, and external USB drives. I highly recommend doing at least this much.

Alleged Author said...

I always hit save numerous times. I lost half my senior thesis when I forgot to in college. I definitely learned my lesson!

Clara said...

Ha, I've lost once half a day of work (a writting work which I was extremelly pleased with) because of a system malfunction. I think it was the closest I have ever come to a heart attack. Luckily I had memorized my favourite parts, but, I have to admit, I dont think I can mimic my moments of brilliance very well.
Great post Lydia!

Tracy said...

Was your "is it secret, is it safe" a purposeful nod to Gandolf from LOTR or just a lucky coincidence?

I don't usually worry about it too much while I'm writing itself. I only save whenever I step away from the computer for a break of some sort. But I do back up all my works on three different computers and a jump drive...so I guess I am a little paranoid.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Lydia...I am sure I won't be able to replicate my writing word for word. Like you, I press the save button after few sentences, and I also make several backup copies of my files.

Mary Vaughn said...

I know I couldn't replicate it. I save as I go, backup to external hard drive and use a flash drive.
After losing EVERYTHING Christmas Day 2009 take no chances.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOL So I'm not the only one who hit saves after every word or two. I keep telling my kids to do that. They never listen. The usually excuse is, "I wasn't finished it!" Too bad the laptop crashed before they were. ;)

Meredith said...

I'm super careful about saving my writing, too! If I have to replicate my writing, I end up with something completely different: my plot goes in a different direction, my characters say completely new things. Sometimes, that's good, but I usually end up wishing for my first draft!

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm almost as obsessive as you about saving.

I think I could rewrite most everything I've written, but the stories and characters would probably be a little to a lot different because I'm not the same person as when I wrote them originally.

Literary Magic said...

I think I could recreate certain aspects of my writing, and in the case of first drafts, would perhaps benefit by losing it altogether. The right combination of words rarely comes in an instant. Rather it comes in stops and starts so purposely losing one's writing and being forced to recreate it might be a good exercise in dealing with this natural phenomenon of literary fitfulness.

Munk Davis said...

Writing is such a labor for me, I back up obsessively.

Heather said...

I actually have lost my novel once. It was the very first one I wrote and I never backed it up. My laptop crashed and the board was fried. FRIED. After a lot of tears and salaging only tiny bits of it I rewrote the entire novel. I don't recommend it. It was a nightmare! I double back up everything now!

Melissa Gill said...

I've never lost a whole novel, (but it's inevitable with my atrocious organizational skills) But I can't tell you how many times I've transfered a file and then saved it some random place and couldn't find it again. (I know I'm a total whack job!) I'll have something really great, and then poof I can't find it. But usually when I write it the second time, it comes out much better, more clear. I don't know. I have gotten a better plan for backing things up now.

Krista said...

I usually hand write first drafts and then I'll leave them around to drop coffee on, or lose a page, or the whole thing. I've never re-written anything, because it hasn't seemed worth it, but it's tucked in my head if I wanted to. I haven't lost anything big though, just some short stories.

Sarah said...

If my novel went away and I had to rewrite it, most of the same intent and themes would still be there, but the language itself would be different. Though, I've read and edited it so many times, I might be surprised how much I could actually replicate.

My backup system is to continually email myself documents as I'm working on them.

Krispy said...

Oh, I hear you! I'm a compulsive saver, but this is less a habit formed from losing creative writing and more a habit formed from fear of losing papers the night before they're due. Yeah.

I think I could recreate some of it, but probably not the parts I liked best. I recently completely restarted a WIP, and while the events in scenes are the same, they sounds quite different.

Taryn Tyler said...

I've had files be deleted on me before. Not fun. I can't recreate the words and scenes exactly but sometimes the second time around I have a clearer idea of where I'm going and the writing is actually stronger. And sometimes I just can't get it to work and curse the fates that made computers.

The Golden Eagle said...

I save what I'm writing every few sentences as well. I have my writing backed up on a disc, so I think it's safe--I know I should store it online, too, just to be safe-r.

Carol Riggs said...

I do the same thing! I save very often. And I periodically email my WIP to myself so I have a copy online somewhere, not dependent upon my computer. I'm still paranoid it'll happen JUST BEFORE I email or save it... Ugh, I'd hate to have to recreate anything. It'd be similar but not exact, of course.

M Pax said...

We have to learn to give up the fear and have confidence in ourselves, so we can axe the things that aren't working and start over. Hanging onto the old often inhibits making it better.

Since my desktop died this week, I can not stress how important it is to back up. I am grateful I do.

Nas Dean said...

I don't think I can completely replicate the same thing. If the notes are there, maybe it'll turn out, but not guaranteed!

Thanks for the reminder for back ups.

lbdiamond said...

Oh yeah, I totally learned the hard way--I save every few minutes and e-mail myself the document once I'm done...

Colene Murphy said...

oh God oh God oh God. Thinking about losing it all makes me want to curl up in a corner and rock. Couldn't recreate it. Wouldn't even be able to try!

Chris Phillips said...

Pretty much everything I write is an opus of literary gold, so I'm sure I could rewrite it, but I save and back everything up mercilessly.

Donea Lee said...

Recreate to spec? Never. Man - that would just be awful to lose EVERYTHING! I think you just convinced to go out and buy a few more jump drives...just in case. :)

Holly Ruggiero said...

Oh ya, I have auto save on and still save frequently and backup often.

Janet Johnson said...

No way I could. It would be a whole new book. :) Yeah, I need to do better back ups!

Melissa said...

I do save frequently but if I need to I can rewrite my own writing I can.

Shallee said...

I'm always afraid that I'm going to end up like Jo in Little Women-- a nasty little Amy-virus is going to come along and burn up all the stories on my hard drive. :) I keep three different copies of my writing folders-- on the computer, an external hard drive, and a thumb drive. 'Cause that Amy-virus can't get to them all!

Jonene Ficklin said...

Back in the day of floppy disks, I double-backed up my first novel, and lucky I did, because my computer crashed. We re-loaded all the programs, then I re-loaded floppy 1. The computer reformatted the disk and I lost it. Lucky to have number 2? It did the same thing. I was numb with shock, and then the mourning set in. But now, years later, I'm fine. I've learned so much between now and then that I'm glad my first novel never went anywhere. But you can bet I back up a variety of ways now! To answer your question, no, I don't think I can rewrite what I did before, but hopefully the second time, I've learned something and can do it a bit better.

Dora said...

This is a great post.And thanks so much for the reminder about keeping data secure.I never for get to backup my important documents.I use both my external hard drive and the online backup soft ware i have on my Computer called www.safecopybackup.com

LTM said...

No. I couldn't. ergh. I think I could retell the story, but not in the same way. This has actually happened to me w/my news writing before, and I always am convinced the first version was best... :D

It's funny, you and Nicole D. had similar posts~ I'm trying dropbox, OK! OK! ;p

Christopher said...

I have trouble even saying the same thing twice. Just not good at repetition. If I lose the words they are gone forever.

Olga said...

I am extra careful about saving my writing because I spent extra time writing it :) But from time to time, no matter what, I tend to lose something...

Vicki Rocho said...

I'm pretty careful about saving as i go...I've lost stuff before and nothing will make you scream and wail more than losing an hour's worth of work -- no matter what it is!

I think for the most part I could recreate my story, but I don't know if I could recapture the magic of certain phrases a second time.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

I back everything up on a flash drive and keep "saving" as I write or re-write. I don't think I could write the exact same story or book a second time, if I lost everything. It would probably come out differently.

Beth said...

I worry about it too, and I backups all the time. Better safe than sorry!

CailinMarie said...

I can't. I loose the freshness and it ends up sounding too stiff - and so I just have to let it go completely -
and you are teasing us with Tolkein!

Patti Lacy said...

I've lost writing, and it's never the same.
With two hard drives and a company called Mosy, hopefully I'm secure.

Good to see you:)
Patti

Lisa said...

I just lost an entire chapter of what I was writing. I *could* have rewritten it, but I ended up rushing the laptop over to my computer guy and paying $20 for him to recover it. $20 for 10 pages seemed kind of steep, but I really did not want to go back and rewrite that section!

Gail said...

Nope, I'd never be able to recreate more than a sentence or two. That's what external hard drives are for!!!! To keep us safe and (relatively) sane!

Naomi Ruth said...

I have been afraid of have to replicate my writing for a very long time.

One day I lost a scene I wrote. It was horrible.

So I re-wrote it.

Then I found the scene I had originally wrote.

It was almost exactly word for word. It was so entirely creepy. But I don't think I could ever do that again.

So I make sure I have things backed up everywhere, and my sister just introduced me to dropbox, which she heard was very good and safe and all that.

I hope you never lose your stuff! That's one of the most awfulest things ever.

 
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