NaNoWriMo: National Back Up Your Novel Day

A WordsDay Special

Saturday is NaNoWriMo’s National Back Up Your Novel Day. I’m a pretty dutiful backer-upper, so I’m doing okay (knock on wood), but I figured I’d take the opportunity to remind my writing buddies to do the same.

But why, I asked NaNoWriMo Program Director Lindsey Grant, do we need a special day devoted to something writers should be doing anyway?

“Back Up Your Novel Day is probably not as successful as it could be,” Lindsey told me. “We do it because after NaNoWriMo ends, we get countless emails from people whose computers are stolen, broken, or any variation therein, and they lose their only copy of their novel. They email in asking if we have a copy saved in our databases—which we don’t—and it breaks our hearts that they finally wrote their novel and then lost it.”

“Sadly, these things happen,” she wrote in an entry on NaNoWriMo’s blog. “And that is why we have created a day in honor of backing up your novel to a CD, flash drive, external hard drive, and emailing it to yourself and others for safekeeping. The world needs your novel, and it simply won’t do to have it gobbled up by bad luck.”

As I reminded my writing buddies to back up, I also asked them how they were doing:

Anna Maria Ballester Bohn in Madrid, Spain: “It’s National Backup Day? I’ll go back up RIGHT NOW! So far I’ve backed up once—yes, I’m bad—but then, my trusty Mac has never failed me, so I’m kind of spoiled.”

“So far, I’m very very happy with NaNo. So happy, I almost feel bad when I see my friends are struggling. I thought I’d fall into a hole as soon as I started work, but I found that I was still writing pretty easily. It’s really great to have that cushion Week One gave me.” Anna was on vacation for the first week of NaNoWriMo and so stockpiled a huge headstart.

Jennifer McConnell in Cleveland, Ohio: “Just uploaded from my laptop to Google Words…and on my desktop, we actually pay about $8 a month to have our entire harddrive backed up every night. Too many times we’ve lost stuff. Totally worth it!”

“After the second week glitch, I’m am feeling renewed energy and am spending the weekend catching up and getting ahead. It’s not a question of words—they are there—it’s the time factor. Thank goodness for in-laws and coffee. My chapter took a depressing turn, but interesting nonetheless.”

Jessica Ann Coder of Portville, N.Y., NaNoWriMo’s regional liaison for New York’s southern tier: “I don’t physically back my novel up, though I should because I fell victim to a program error last November and lost around 5000 words. Instead, I write my novel in Google Doc, which auto-saves every time I write more than a few characters. I did save the novel on my hard drive once, and am planning on doing that again, but I’m really bad when it comes to saving things in separate spots often.”

“I started out this November without any sense of a plot. I had a character name, a basic look, and I knew that she was a gypsy, but nothing after that. So, writing at all has been sort of a challenge. I introduced an antagonist, but then he turned out to be a really nice guy—so, yeah. I did manage to get up over 20k last night before bed, but I’ve been busy all day that I don’t think I’ll be able to get anything on paper tonight.”

Lizz Schumer in London, England: “Damn, no. I did not. Some writers (um, me) always forget to do that. I live dangerously.”

“It’s going well, though! I’m just over 22,000 and hoping to reach 25,000 by tonight. My characters are all out of line as usual, but I’ll reign them back in during editing. We’re just having a good romp right now.”

Jill Smith of Bradford, Pa.: “About six months ago, I was writing a novel and I accidentally erased my hard drive and lost 17 chapters. I was not happy. So, I am obsessive about backing up.”

“It’s going well. I haven’t run out of steam yet so that’s a plus! I realized what I was doing wrong at, like, Day Three.I kept going back and rewriting and changing things and making sure everything was consistent, which was not only holding up the progress of the word count but it was also halting my creativity. Now I’m just writing, which has been extremely liberating!!! So, this has been a great exercise for me.”

Ashley Waterman of Dunkirk, N.Y.: “I have not been backing up my story, but I think it’s time I throw it onto my flash drive. Doing that will also allow me to work on it when I’m not at my computer. :)”

“I’m doing pretty well at this point. My main issue is that I feel like my characters are kind of one-dimensional. I’ve been focusing on events and plot points, and that’s okay. This just means I’ll have to expand on the actual characters during December!”

Jeri Webster in State College, Pa.: “Despite being Week Two’d, I’m happy to report I had a Really Groovy Flash of Inspiration (a breakthrough, I’d call it) on my drive home from work tonight. So I’m back into it this weekend, full steam ahead. Both feet. Full force. Hard core. Even if my character DOES wanna keep doing good things no matter HOW badly I want him to be bad.”

I should also note that Jill has been posting quotes about writing on her Facebook page:

  • “Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow…” — Lawrence Clark Powell
  • “The act of writing requires a constant plunging back into the shadow of the past where time hovers ghostlike.” — Ralph Ellison

4 replies »

  1. I like the way you’re bringing in the experience of others. Adds perspective to your experience.

  2. I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, but have been a religious backer-upper since we fried a hard drive and nearly lost everything. We were lucky–$500 paid to a data recovery service salvaged our pictures and other documents, but we’ve been using a backup service ever since.

  3. @ Denny: Thanks. I figure any single writer’s experience is unique enough that it is and is not representative of the overall process and experience, so the more folks I talk to, the better I can capture a sense of what this whole experiment is like.

    @ Jennifer: Smart, smart, smart on the backing-upping!