A Writer’s Worst Nightmare

If you’re a writer you should finish reading this post. Someday you’ll thank me, I promise. Image

There is one thing which I fear more than anything else on this planet, one thing that keeps me awake at night in a cold sweat. It haunts anyone who has ever sat down at a keyboard and opened a Word document.

It has happened to the very best of our kind. It has probably happened to you. And even if it has, you’re not safe. It will happen again. Take this as either a helpful reminder or a dire warning, it doesn’t matter – like I said, you’ll thank me one day.

This morning I woke up, rolled out of bed, opened my laptop, and pressed the power button. That process has happened most days in the three and a half years since I first got a laptop. What followed, however, was not what normally happens next.

The power button didn’t work. Nothing. I pressed it again. Again, nothing. No lights. No hum. No bright screen.  

I checked it was plugged in. Yup. Any signs of damage – did I stand on it in the night? Nope. Hit the power again.

Still nothing.

And thus the writer’s worst nightmare was realised.

Now this has happened before. A while back I broke the poor thing’s screen. Suitably horrified, I backed up everything after it was fixed. Thousands of documents and pictures and videos. But over two months and a lot of writing has passed since then, including the two thousand rather excellent words I bashed out and carefully saved last night.

It won’t do you much good if you save your Word files to your hard drive only for your computer to blow up.

I know you hear it all the time but seriously, fellow writers, back your stuff way up. Whether you just email yourself a first draft, or invest in a full separate hard drive (I’m considering it now), your caution will pay off, because I can guarantee you one thing – eventually your laptop or PC or electronic whatever will break. And the pain of losing hundreds of thousands of words will be almost unbearable.

Thankfully this little anecdote has a happy ending. Guided by the mysterious savants on the ‘Yahoo Answers’ (and before you yell “plot inconsistency,” I was using my PC for this bit) I removed the power cable, took out the laptop’s battery, held down the power button for 30 seconds, spun thrice and threw salt over my left shoulder, then reconnected the power and voila. For some tech-head-alone-knows-why reason it now works just fine.

And my inbox is full of a dozen new email attachments from one Robbie MacNiven.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “A Writer’s Worst Nightmare

  1. I’ve lost two whole books to the dreaded computer crash, so I’m glad you were able to recover what you wrote yesterday! Get a flash drive and always back up everything.

    • Two, that really is a nightmare 😦 Still, it seems every author has a story to tell about the time they lost a load of work yet the rewrites turned out better than the originals.

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