A couple of weeks ago, the worst thing that could possibly happen to a writer happened to me.
My laptop died.
My ten-month-old laptop that I’d bought because my previous one was too slow to keep up with what I needed it for.
And it wouldn’t turn on.
Boyfriend — who’s a computer programmer and also builds PCs — had a look, but it still wouldn’t play nice for him.
I wasn’t too worried. My writing was backed up on Dropbox.
Or that’s what I thought until I tried to open the file on another device.
The back up I had was of an old version, from about the beginning of September. I was missing several thousand words and edits to several key scenes.
Needless to say, I was a wreck.
But I could do absolutely nothing about it.
We took it to the Apple Store, and were told it would be THREE WEEKS before I got my precious laptop back and would know if my writing was safe.
Yes, THREE WEEKS of limbo.
Rather than sulk — which I desperately wanted to do — I borrowed Boyfriend’s laptop and used the time to work on some short stories and back stories. My laptop dying may have put me behind schedule, but I would not let it stop me from writing. I had far too many other things I could do in the meantime!
Learn from my mistakes!
Check which file you’re editing
It sounds like common sense, but if you’ve got two files with the same name, saved to different locations, it can be easy to open/edit the wrong one, especially after a long day. Check and make sure you’ve opened the right one and save over the top of the other one.
Better yet, give them slightly different names.
Back up After BIG changes
I didn’t think about how significant the changes I’d made were until I’d lost them.
If it’s a scene that is PINNACLE to your novel, and you’ve worked really hard on it, back up as soon as you’ve finished your session.
If you do lose your writing…
Spend some time processing
You worked really hard on what you’ve lost. Losing it hurts. Take some time to grieve and get over what’s happened: you’re allowed to, and nobody will blame you.
Take some ‘me’ time
I’m a big fan of ‘me’ time. It’s important. Losing something you’ve worked hard on can still trigger the same feelings as losing a loved one. Be aware of that, and don’t be too hard on yourself. You made a mistake, but you’re human. Play a game, read a book, bake some cakes, do whatever it is that helps you to relax and switch off. Don’t punish yourself for screwing up — you’ll only feel worse in the long-run.
Let it go
You can let the pain of what’s happened consume you, stop writing and beat yourself up, or you can put your fans first. They want to read your book. The longer you dwell on your screw-up, the longer they have to wait to find out what happens.
A week and a half later, my laptop returned.
The logicboard — the Apple version of a motherboard, where EVERYTHING that makes it run is soldered on to it — had died.
So now I pretty much have a new laptop with the exception of the case…and the hard drive.
Yep, that’s right: WHAT HAPPENS IN LONDON WAS STILL THERE!
Having seen what happens when hard drives die I did believe Boyfriend when he reassured me that it’d be ok, but the anxiety never really goes away. Especially not when a) the manuscript means so much to you, b) you’ve worked so hard on it, and c) you have anxiety anyway.
After picking my laptop up, I was a tad emotional. I went for a pumpkin spice latte to help myself relax, and after a coffee and a shopping trip felt a lot better.
Back to work!
More updates on What Happens in London soon!
In the meantime, you can get hold of an exclusive first chapter of an old novel of mine by signing up to my mailing list!