What to do when you “lost” your file

I woke up this morning and just about had a cardiac episode as I opened my working file and prepared to go to work, only to have the last saved file be from the 6th. It’s currently the 9th. My Mac has done this before where it just doesn’t update anything for a couple of days, and all that work has gone poof.

Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, there are a couple of things you can do that will help. Have a friend or a gmail/icloud account where you can send the evenings progress to and try to do that nightly. It is, by far, the most secure way of saving your progress. Not only are they saved in your friend’s computer, but you have the copy in your saved file. Of course, if you’re like me, the one night you do not do that is the one night you write the most important scene of the book and you don’t send it.

Secondly, don’t (just) save to your hard disc, save to dropbox. I’ll get to why in the things to do before screaming into a pillow.

Lastly, when you save for the day, save the final file under file name-today’s date. You won’t be searching through ten thousand versions of shaving.docx over multiple files if you current date your work.

So, if you do all of that, the chances are you’re not going to have any issue if you wake up and your computer has suffered some sort of amnesia and doesn’t think it’s saved a file since last Tuesday.

But you do all that and you forgot to email your work. What now?

Dropbox has a menu when you rightclick the file that automatically saves older versions. It will download the older file to your downloads folder. Hopefully, your work is in there. Do this as soon as you possibly can. Dropbox saves five versions of it, but the more time that passes the more time that file could get deleted for another copy of the bad file.

If that doesn’t work, do a search of part of the name of the file all on your computer, allowing it to see all files and not just those opened up by word. There might be a corrupt file that has the new data on it, but your WP can’t open it. If you can see the corrupt file and it doesn’t have zero bytes next to it, try opening it up with a text reader, like wordpad or textedit. You’re not going to get any formatting and it might be one giant lump o’text, but copy and paste the new bit out and get formatting it.

If that doesn’t work, and the file is gone, gone, gone, don’t worry. Unless it was one of those rare scene where you, as the author doesn’t know which way the story is going to go on that important scene and your main character and you figure out the path together, you can rewrite. If you’ve figured out that the rewriting stage is really rewriting and not just trying to polish, you probably would have rewritten the scene again. No matter how good you think the scene is, rewriting it from memory is going to make it tighter, faster and stronger. If you ever find your old scene back and compare it word-for-word, the new rewritten version is going to be just the good bits.

I used to hate rewriting and hated rereading what I wrote. Then I figured out that every single time someone told me the secret to writing is rewriting, they actually knew what they were talking about. I know, who knew published, prolific author mentors knew more about writing than newbies?!? Nothing in that first draft is sacred. Everything can be lost to the arrangement. If you’ve lost a day’s-week-month’s worth of work it sucks, and I feel your pain, but rewriting from the ashes is where the phoenix rises. God, that’s so pathetic. I really should delete it, but i’m not. You’re just going to have to live with my purple prose. #sorrynotsorry

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