There’s a story about American writer Ernest Hemingway losing his suitcase filled with his works at a train station. It was a devastating event. But Hemingway ploughed through and wrote some of the best-known works of literature.
We can look at this story and event from various angles, but an important one is- how can we keep our works organized and safe.
As technology processes, there are so many options available. So many that we might get lazy and slack off. Don’t tell me you religiously back up your files? Like seriously? I do it every once in a while when I end up reading an article about how my computer can collapse. Fingers crossed, hope our computers never collapse in that manner!
If you are a writer or have been writing for some time, or want to develop a writing habit – no matter where you are on your writing journey, achieving your work and developing a process is a good place to start. Some of the main reasons I didn’t archive my work right from the start was because I thought I’d never use it and that my work would never amount to much of anything. The reality is, whether our works become international bestsellers or simply stay back in our computer, they amount to something foremost to us. Keeping our work safe and organized will help us find new patterns and connections.
Now that you are convinced (please say you are!), let’s move on to archiving your work in 3 steps.
1. Choose your application (if you’re going digital)
Do you like to write on your computer’s software like Microsoft Word or Pages? Or do you want to try applications available in your app store or play store? Whatever be the choice, use one that is compatible across your devices. It’s easier than ever to scribble one piece on your phone, part two on your computer, and then the last part on your tablet. Manually integrating and saving all of them is going to be super tedious!
I generally like to use Google apps. They are compatible across my devices (ios or Android), and it saves itself on the cloud making security much easier. I’ve created a separate Google drive based on the categories of my writing. Alongside, I also use Google Keep.
Microsoft’s OneDrive also comes with similar features and cloud access. Many applications on your phone can also be linked to your computer. This feature might require an additional step of logging in or even paid access.
The number one feature that you might want to consider is compatibility and access across your devices unless you have a dedicated device and are sure that’s the only place you’ll be writing other than going old school and writing on notebooks.
2. Build a process and see if it works
After choosing your application, build a system or a process. Think of it as steps in your archiving process. It’s easiest to have your work backed up simultaneously. If you choose to write on software that cannot be backed up via cloud or automatically, then you’d have to develop a routine to manually back it up – every week, month, half-yearly. This also applies if you use a combination of longhand writing and digital tools.
I’m experimenting by writing the final document on Google docs which autosaves. Real notebooks are also my ever loyal companions in writing. I have separate notebooks based on themes – poetry, ideas, personal stories, journals, etc. Whenever I write in a notebook and then decide to archive it digitally or publish it online, I’ll use Google docs.
I also use Google Keep to note ideas and anything on the go. It’s like my digital notebook. Google Keep allows you to use colors and tags to organize your notes. Poetry can have one color (or background), then short post ideas can have another, followed by random musings or journal-type experiences.
3. Iterate and experiment
For a long time I either directly wrote unto my blog or wrote in the software available on my computer that did not autosave. Thus, I would manually backup all of my work. To make things more tedious, I’d write on different applications. It’s okay writing on different notebooks, but on different apps – that’s a lot of apps just lying around and occupying space on my devices and cluttering my work. Currently, I’m having fun iterating and experimenting with Google Apps.
More than anything, it’s all about building a habit and making a conscious decision. If you’re going to use App A, then stick to it for some time. Figure out how it works and if it suits you and your writing purpose. If not, backup and try another app. Don’t forget to backup though!
Someone picked up Hemingway’s suitcase and ran away. Right now a swipe, a tap, or a crash could cause your suitcase to vanish. Thus, consider what is the safest way for you and what’s the easiest. Keep archiving and organizing your work so that when you return and reread them, you’ll not only find a different you from the past but likely also new ideas and connections.
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