Why you should back up your work

Scrivener working across multiple devices
Scrivener used across different devices (Literature and Latte, n.d.).

Please remember to back up your work. I went to the UK for a holiday over Christmas and New Year. When I got back home, a month after I left, my laptop would not turn on. I could not remember my iCloud password and I ended up locked out for 24 hours. It was a really painful 24 hours.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. After 12 hours, I was let back into my iCloud account (after realising the password was saved in my Google account) and only one of my novels was backed up. I downloaded it and only the first 10,000 words of edits had been saved.

After some research I discovered this is because I had the novel open in Scrivener when the backup was made. I was absolutely shattered. There were three thoughts that consumed me over the next few days:

1. This was entirely preventable. I did this to myself by not backing up my work properly. I deserve to lose everything.

2. It’s for the best, I was never cut out to be a writer anyway.

3. Sure, I can redo what I’ve lost, but it will never be as good, so why try?

It took a lot of self-care and discipline to challenge these destructive thoughts instead of giving in to them.

1. While losing those files might have been preventable, they’re gone now and there’s no use dwelling on it. I shouldn’t be criticising myself for not having the files backed up, especially considering the things I was dealing with last year.

For example, the reason my second novel didn’t sync was because my iCloud membership lapsed and I ran out of space. My wallet was stolen last year and the card attached to the account had to be cancelled.

The thieves used my drivers license to apply for credit in my name and I had to lodge fraud claims with each business individually. Updating my card for online subscriptions wasn’t very high on my list of priorities at the time.

2. When I lost my work, one of my most dominant thoughts was ‘you lost your work, therefore you cannot write.’ It took me a long time to realise my this was my inner critic speaking.

It makes no sense, and yet I’d so quickly accepted it as fact. I’ve put a lot of effort into challenging this belief by reminding myself of all the people who read my work and enjoy it.

3. Every step of the way I’ve felt like what I’m doing is no good. What I need to remember is that I’m always happy with the work I produce when I read over it.

It’s normal to feel like this. It’s part of the process. The novel will be just as good the second time around. First drafts always suck.

So what will I do now? Well, to start with, I’ve stepped away from the novel to give myself some time to mourn it. After a couple of weeks, I’ll gather my notes from the first draft and redo the edits I lost.

I’ve also set up multiple backup systems. I did some research and found that Scrivener has the option to sync directly to Dropbox, so I’ve set up a Dropbox account.

I also upgraded my Google Drive account and my iCloud account and will be downloading apps for all three on my laptop, when I get it back, so that backing up my work becomes an easy, stress-free process.

Most importantly, I’ve developed a schedule and limited my time on different projects so that I’m not as overworked as I was last year. Hopefully this will stop things slipping through the cracks.

My schedule for the first part of the hear.
A copy of my schedule for the first part of the year

I’ve read a lot of different writer’s journeys to publication over the years. Most of them include some kind of setback and this is going to be mine. This will be the story I’ll tell at writer’s festivals and book launches. This is going to make me a better writer.

I remember being told once that a professional artist is just an amateur who didn’t give up. I am a professional. I will rewrite what I’ve lost.




Literature and Latte. (n.d.). Scrivener. Retrieved from https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview

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