For the month of November, I’m taking it as my civil duty to help out the Wrimos of the world. If you’ve been around for a while, you may have seen my guest post last November over on Denise Drespling’s blog (if you’re new in town, you can read my post here) about how I believe that NaNoWriMo changed my life. This is my 9th year in the program, and my (hopefully) 7th year of completing the challenge. It is my 3rd year as an ML, and my 3rd different region to be living in. I was ML of New York::Elsewhere for two years, and will still serve as virtual ML there this year, but am currently in “training” to be the co-ML of Virginia::Richmond next year. I love the program, and I love helping people along the way. So in addition to the pep talks that go out to all the Wrimos, I’m going to put out posts each week of November to help the Wrimos (and anyone else who’s writing this month, for any reason!) to help along the way.
Week 1 is today.
This is day 5 of NaNoWriMo, and day 4 (basically) of Week 1, since the 1st was a week in and of itself. And Week 1 is traditionally the easiest week of the month. Your project is new and shiny, you love your characters, you have the next five scenes planned out. You’ve averaged more than the suggested 1667 words a day, and you can’t imagine why everyone says this is so hard. You’re slated to finish 10 days ahead of schedule, and you’re in heaven.
And then the unthinkable happens.
You’re at a write-in, headphones in and words rolling, when the ML tells you that you have to pack up and go home. No big deal. You save your work on your flash drive, wave goodbye to all your regional friends, and go home. You are all primed for the next scene, which you’re positive you can get done before you have to go to bed tonight. That will make a whopping 4000 words for the day, on top of the words you already have, and you’ll be so far ahead you can’t see straight. It is all turning out perfectly.
You sit down in front of your home computer, plug in your zip drive, and open it up.
…And nothing happens.
You try again and again, on your desktop and you laptop, but neither computer recognizes the drive. You finally convince the computer to give you an error message; the disc is corrupted.
The flash drive is dead. You have lost those 4000 words, and your only copy of the book is the one on your desktop. Or, worse yet, that flash drive is the only source of your words. You are now back to an absolute zero on your word count, and you should have at least over 8000, let alone the probable 10k+ you did have.
This is the most decimating time to lose words, no matter how many. This early on, it is still very easy to toss in the towel and say that this year is not the year you’re going to win. It’s too easy to be overcome by the loss and not make up the words. If you lose a few thousand words later in the month–yes, it’s going to be hard and you’re going to be angry. But if you already have 35-40,000 words invested in your story, you’re going to be less willing to give up. You’re so close; how can you bow out now?! But at so few…it’s harder.
This is why it is very, very important to back up your work. You’ll hear all the NaNo experts/MLs/Chris Batys/etc harp about this all month long, and it’s important. I nearly lost a very large chunk of words because my laptop was misbehaving and didn’t save properly. I managed to get them back in a backup my computer/writing program had automatically made for me, but I’ve also not been as lucky. My friends have had more significant losses–like, whole beginnings of book drafts due to a missave. It’s a dangerous world, writing. You need to be vigilant.
Put your book in more than one place. Save it on a zip drive, save it on your hard drive, save it into Dropbox, save it into Google Drive. Put it on more than one zip drive. Email it to yourself each day. Get a friend to keep a copy on their computer. Put your book in as many places as you possibly can to keep it save. It will be a hassle, but you will appreciate it if/when you have an accident and are suddenly missing way more words than you can hope to make up.
Just hear Gandalf’s voice every time you write. “Is it secret? Is it safe?”
One of those is more important than the other. I’ll let you figure out which. 😉
See you next week, writers.