Writing Tools

Save Early, Save Often

by Peter Basch

There is no way to completely avoid getting under the hood, at least a little bit, of your software. No, that’s wrong. There is one way: have someone else do it. But even if you have some techie under your roof or nearby, it is your fingers that will be hitting the keys. You are ultimately responsible for saving your document early and often, making backups, and taking care of your computer. I have met very smart people who work under the foolhardy belief that you don’t save a document until you are done typing! If the power goes out or the barista trips over the cord, everything may be lost. The better way to work is when you open a blank document, SAVE FIRST! Assign it a name, and save that empty doc. Then, as you type, hit Ctl+S frequently. If it can become a muscular tic that you do without noticing, so much the better.

Ellen Adds:

The last paragraph is the most important! I have learned this the very hardest way, and I am chagrined to admit that it took more than one loss for me to finally get it. Ouch. There is just no reason not to save first, and save often.

Another recommendation, is that every time you reopen your draft you save it as a new version. Something like: FirstDraft20130422. Then the next time you work on it, you change the date and save your new version as FirstDraft20130423. That way you will have a record of your work and, if you hate your rewrite, you can always go back to what you had before. It also gives you automatic backups so if you should happen to lose your doc, you won’t have lost everything, just the most recent stuff and, hopefully, you’ll remember enough to replace that with minimal pain and suffering. (yes, yes, I learned this the hard way too.)

Speaking of backups, you know you should. Save your most important stuff every day on one of those cute little "thumb drives" aka, flash drives or USB drives. They are so easy, even I can do it without help. The hard part is remembering to do it (and, of course, not losing the little flash drive!).