Once you lose your first sizable document, the realisation of saving or storing data as you write comes to light. Here are a couple of key file-saving tips I’ve found that’s helped me a few times.
Tip: Press CTRL + S = Save
Sure, there are shortcuts on any keyboard to help you save a document while you work and that’s nice to know. It’s better to practice it and practice it often (to take advantage of it).
Whenever I’m writing something, my fingers are constantly dancing over the keys CTRL+S (Windows shortcut). If the phone rings, those two keys are tapped before I pick the phone up. It’s become second nature to me. I don’t even know I’m doing it when I’m doing it.
I don’t wait to end a chapter to save the document it belongs to. I’ll do it now, I mean right now. (While writing this WordPress post, I saved it several times — during the last paragraph!). Like I said, my fingers dance over CTRL+S. It’s so easy that it’s automatic.
Tip: Sound/Picture editors, Excel, WordPress posts, etc., use the same save shortcut!
But that doesn’t get a writer out of every kind of file-losing trouble that can arise during a project. That practice only saves the last update of a document.
There are times when the last save isn’t enough and you’ll need to go back to an earlier time in the writing to pick it up from there. You won’t know you’ll need to do this until you have to… so here are some examples of when you might:
- Before a word substitution was applied to the texts.
- Before page formatting took place.
- Before the story took a left fork in the road instead of the right.
- Or prior to the fill-in-the-blank nth number edit.
When a new book is being written, my first major saves are done in blocks of around three chapters apiece. I’ll call my first save SAVEA.docx. The next one will be SAVEB.docx and so on (.docx is the file type used by MS Word, my text editor. Your text editor may use a different one). By the time I get to the end of the book, I’ll have a set of about ten files listed from A through to J. (I’ll also save a copy of those major saves offsite when I do it — usually to cloud storage of some sort.)
As I go through the editing process of a book, I’ll do the same thing again. The entire project may contain up to 30 files that were generated at various stages during the book’s overall development — and that’s before titling, cover graphics, blurbs and other things take place.
I once had a friend tell me she kept all her files on her laptop computer. She bragged about how much memory it had in it and that it could keep her whole life in a convenient portable device while she travelled the world. She toured and wrote material as she went from place to place.
She had all her writing projects, her music edits, her videos and podcasts, copies of her legal documents and all her emails stored on that one laptop. And then one day, someone reached into her rental car and took it off the seat. She never saw that laptop again. Every file that mattered to her most was lost in an instant. There weren’t any other copies made anywhere else.
I warned her about the danger of keeping it (the data) all in one place but she said it wouldn’t happen to her as she kept the laptop safe at all times. It was always with her and well-guarded.
Portability in modern tech means theft occurs more often. You can’t predict it.
Portable devices also get dropped, left behind, struck by electrical surges, and covered in sand and salt spray. Sometimes the computer simply crashes for no reason and never flies again.
The only way to protect the files on the computer before any of these things happen to it is to make sure there’s a copy of the files located somewhere else. (It’s not good enough to save them on external hard drives, USB sticks, or SD cards and then leave them in the bag the computer comes in. That’s not fixing the problem! That’s doubling it!)
Save often. Save in blocks. Save offsite.
That’s my tip collective when it comes to protecting your writing (or any other for that matter) work!