3 Tools to Survive An Apocalyptic Writing Event

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apocalyptic writing event

Can you survive a terminal writing event? What would you do if you woke up one morning to discover all your writing had disappeared overnight? Every stroke of literary genius, every word made flesh on the page — gone. What, especially, would you do if your soon-to-be-published novel was a part of that giant data dump?

I’ll tell you what I did, because this scenario happened to me this weekend. Every shred of writing I ever produced was lost. I screamed, cried, and invoked the gods of computer science. I called down a generational curse upon the geniuses at Apple, whose latest OS release, Sierra, took out my hard drive.

Yes, with not so much as a click-whirr, my data took the swirly ride down the computer equivalent of the porcelain throne. All that was lacking was the vigorous flushing sound. Panicked, I searched online for possible solutions. I tried in vain to reboot in safe mode or even run disk utilities. Nothing worked.

Thankfully, I had a WD Passport (an external hard drive) that, as far as I know, has been backing itself up nicely at regular intervals. But I can’t be certain.

In abject misery, I headed to the nearest Apple store to see if anything could be saved. After chatting with the employees, I bought a brand spanking-new machine (yay!) at a hefty price tag (boo) and have my fingers crossed that the IT specialists there will be able to retrieve my heart and soul from the smoking ruins of my six-year-old machine.

In the meantime, I’m lucky enough to have a laptop as a backup. None of my files are here, but at least it can function to keep me connected. Considering how decidedly suicidal I’m feeling over the situation at present, I figure I need to have an emergency plan in place in the case of future writing events of a similar nature. Said plan will be able to save me and my life’s work in case of the zombie apocalypse or another iOS release, whichever comes first. Here’s what I think it’s gonna take to endure:

Apocalyptic Writing Event Survival Kit

  • You need a reliable external hard drive. Next time, I’m opting for a cloud drive, which will make my documents available across all devices and from anywhere in the world, regardless of the state of my stand-alone computer.
  • A hard copy of all my passwords. Passwords for all of my business and personal accounts were encrypted on my computer. I don’t have a hard copy. My passwords are pretty hard to memorize, so without a hard copy I’d have to get new passwords for every single account I use.
  • Hard copies of all written works. This one seems a pain and maybe even a waste of ink, but having hard copies of all my writing right now would save me a ton of stress and angst, not to mention cut down on the number of margaritas I have to drink to stay centered. In the past, I’ve burned hard copies of everything, but recently went to digital-only storage to save paper and time. Don’t do it! Always have a hard copy!

I won’t know until tomorrow if Operation Data Retrieval was successful. But I do know that, moving forward, I’m going to be far more careful with, and protective of, the contents of my machine in case of another writing event like this one. So, as my old Latin professor would say, scriptores cave—writers beware—and protect your writing like it was the gold of Croesus. After all, it just might be!

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