#TradecraftTuesday: BACK UP YO SHIT!

Usually I, and most people who write about the act of writing instead of, um, yanno, WRITING, offer helpful tips and suggestions on how to write. I refuse to say, “tell you how to write,” because if someone is telling YOU how to tell YOUR story, that person is probably an adjunct college English professor who hasn’t published anything more then 5 people actually read and gave a shit about anyway, so their opinion probably isn’t worth a whole lot in the first place unless you’re writing for a grade. In which case, yes, write for your audience and drop a piano on their head in print as many times as it takes to wash the bitter taste out of your mouth. The point is, I try to give you pointers and help you express what you want to say in a way people will want to read.

Today, I’m not going to do that.

Today, I want to talk about something every bit as important, but which largely goes ignored and unspoken of by writers everywhere: The importance of backing up yo shit!

Now, I recognize this sentiment is ungrammatical as hell and it’s probably giving at least five editorial types a migraine headache right this moment. And in other news, I don’t care in the slightest.

Here’s WHY writers don’t talk about backing up their work.

Because it’s fucking embarrassing to have to stand in front of a novice writer who’s been a devoted fan for your entire career, who’s looked up to you and thinks you are the second coming of Christ as it applies to lit-tur-a-toor, and admit you did something fucking stupid.


This lesson was brought home to me in a particularly painful and annoying way over the weekend, when I went looking for a bunch of my previously-published works to start the re-release process under my own aegis. I searched my computer inside and out. I had a couple of files, but very little of what I actually needed. I checked my thumb drives. Corrupted. I checked my email accounts. Oh, that’s right…the last thing I released was in 2014, and I wiped all my accounts at the beginning of 2015, since I was planning to die and who the hell needs access to their email when they’re dead anyway? Foolish and shortsighted, I know, but you try forming rational plans when you’re non compos mentis and let me know how that works out for you. Just sayin’.


Since the first of my stories was released in early 2011, and it’s now 2017, and there was a three-year gap between the last thing I published and the present day, this left me in a substantial quandary. Fortunately, by reaching out to my former editors, I was able to recover all but two of my old works, and I’m hoping they will turn up soon. Honestly, of the two, the one I’m most concerned about retrieving is “Dead Means Dead.” Yes, I have favorites. Every author does, whether they choose to admit it or not.

So, here’s what I’ve done to make sure something like this NEVER happens again.

  1. Backup to external hard drive. If I change so much as a single letter, I save the file in an updated format with a new file name so I can track version changes.
  2. Backup to AT LEAST 2 flash drives. This will hopefully ensure I retain at least one fully functional and updated drive at all times.
  3. Archive all writing documents in my email account.
  4. Backup all writing documents to a separate email account which no one knows, no one can access and is used for nothing but keeping writing-related correspondence available in case I need it later.
  5. Obviously, save all documents to my computer.

This is clearly a much more elaborate and time-consuming scheme than the “Rule of Three” backups most professionals espouse. On the other hand. considering how much time and effort I could have saved myself by simply not losing my work to begin with, I’m now firmly convinced there’s no such thing as too much INFOSEC, as the military and certain scary organizations whose initials strike chills down my spine call it. I’m also that asshole who overwrites his hard drive ten times before I take my computer in for service, just to be absolutely certain the things on my computer stay private and personal until I’m damned good and ready for them NOT to be.

So, this is my suggestion. You may find it needlessly Draconian, or you may have other suggestions I’ve neglected here. Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and ideas about how YOU as a writer avoid data and file loss!

Be sure to tune in tomorrow, when I’ll be talking about what is and is not a submissive act, and on Thursday, when I’ll be discussing some changes to my forthcoming release schedule for Dusk, my novella/short anthology (title TBD) and Angels Cry!

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