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Writers - Backup Those Words!

Photo by Geri Forsaith on Unsplash

This past weekend, I experienced a terrifying moment.

My writing process for my next novel, Watermeloned: A Mystery Sci-Fi Novel, is to use Scrivener on multiple devices. Using Google Drive as a conduit to a common file, I can hop from device to device, picking up where I left off with all my pretty words and wordy notes for the book.

Well, I hopped to my Windows tablet to continue writing this past weekend, and suddenly around 3,000 to 4,000 words had gone missing. One was an entire chapter!

Calm down, I thought. It's going to be OK.

But really, I did panic some. Sure, 3K to 4K of words is pretty decent. But imagine if I lost the entire book of 40K at that point? Yeah, that be bad, fer sure.

Even with that much lost, there are still little things you might not get back when rewriting. Nuance to the wording. Ideas that popped into the stream of consciousness that were added or even removed from the original story outline.

OK. I have Scrivener set to auto-backup when I close the program. So an earlier version should be there to retrieve. Right? Right?


Nothing was in the folder. I should've made a snapshot. I may have set something up wrong. I don't know. What I do know is that nothing was there.

OK. Now panic!

But wait! My actual files are all resting in the cloud with Google. And Google does save multiple versions of a file. Quickly I dashed to their website, found the Scrivener file, and I right-clicked on it.

Then I went to the version history.

And then I saw a save from about an hour and a half earlier. The exact time I last finished writing.

Another quick click to restore that version and presto, chango, rearrango, all had returned to normal.

But wow, was that scary.

What caused the issue was that my tablet had not synced up with the internet yet on Google Drive. So when I opened Scrivener, it created a new save of the current state of the book the last time I used the device to write. Then this save, being a more recent date than the one on Google Drive, synced to the cloud, overwriting the proper save.

The lesson here is that if you're writing a novel, ensure you are backing up your files. The system I'm using is a good one. That's the first time I had to deal with it, so I jumped through a few hoops. But I'm grateful way back when I decided to handle things the way I did.

Happy writing!


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