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December 08, 2010

How to Backup Your Manuscript

1. One file, and only one file

The biggest mistake I ever made as a first time writer was creating separate files for every chapter. It is totally unnecessary and certain to cause confusion. Use section breaks to separate chapters. I also include my outline and research at the end of the doc.

2. Set Microsoft Word to autosave every minute

You can set Word Preferences to automatically save a file as .doc, so you don't have to select "save as .doc" every time. This is a good thing to know when using multiple computers to write your drafts

3. Email: the secret backup tool

Emailing your manuscript to yourself is the fastest and easiest way to backup your work. It is always 'in the cloud' so you'll still have your draft if your house burns down or your computer melts.

When sending the file, use a standardized code in the subject line for easy searching. I use the initials of my title, followed by a suffix that indicates which location I am backing up from. So if your title is Harry Potter, you would attach the manuscript to your email and write "HP Laptop" or "HP Desktop" or "HP Sally's Computer" in the subject line. This keeps you from mixing things up when you forget where you were last working on your manuscript.

If you have multiple email accounts, send the file to all of them--the more places it lives online, the safer you are.

Email yourself the file every time you leave your computer

I'll be creating Macros for many of these operations within Word and will hopefully be able to share them with you in the future.

1 comment:

Thomas Edwards said...

You should use http://www.backupthat.com
It let's users automatically back up all of their files and saves multiple versions so you can go back and find the bit of brilliance you wrote on draft 2 and put it in draft 16.

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