I was writing earlier today, and doing very well. I was 'in the zone', writing great, everything going well, writer's high, 40+ words per minute, everything seemed perfect. And then everything decided to go horribly wrong. A badly timed update page, a mistyped enter key later, and the computer was restarting for updates. I lost 20+ pages of really good content and now am trying to figure out what to do.

Normally, I would just move onto another chapter or another story and write that and come back later, but I don't want to do that because I want to lose as little as I can from the original writing. I know that if I try to rewrite it it will end up worse than the original when I try to just rush through it, so that's not going to work all that well. I could try and just ignore the mistakes and stuff and just rewrite, then do a round of editing in a few days to fix it up, but I still feel like I wouldn't get everything as good as I want it.

So question; I just lost 20+ pages of good content and want to rewrite it with a minimal decrease in quality and preferably quickly. How?

  • 2
    Just rewrite it. Who knows, maybe it will even better than the first time! – Nai45 Jan 19 at 20:35
  • 5
    Give it a day for the frustration to wear off. Some apps, like Word, save your document every 30 minutes. In Settings, I set my Saves to 10 minutes. Also, get into the habit of Saving every time a new page starts. – Yosef Baskin Jan 19 at 21:00

Rewrite it and tell yourself you'd do it anyway. Your mind might actually put the pieces together even better the second time. Now that you know the whole thing from beginning to end.

Then get software that does not allow this.

I've been in your situation more times than I'd like and I've come to this one conclusion: Only Scrivener + Dropbox + backups several times per day can keep me fairly safe from it.

But here are some so-so alternatives (no I don't recommend any of these but maybe they will work enough times for your satisfaction—this is also from a Mac perspective... might not be your perspective at all...)

If you use Word you can set it up to autosave. I use Mac and it works about half of the times. Maybe it works better on Windows. If you have Office 360 you could try to save to OneDrive (there's autosave). However, again on a Mac, this is about 50/50 that it gets that I'm updating the document so it too may be Windows only.

I've used LibreOffice. It's on par with Word when it comes to recovery. Flip a coin and see what you get. (I think it worked better on Linux but I had cause for curses there too...)

If you're not on a Mac or you can't afford Scrivener (can you afford not to afford it?) I'd suggest you spend some time researching how to make your favorite writing program autosave and test it.

Of course, you also need to have backups in place. Saving the text on a cloud drive is one step in the right direction, but you should also have a secondary backup because some (most) cloud drives won't protect you against changes you make and regret.

  • 1
    Wouldn't just using Google Docs avoid having to get all these other programs? It is also free... – Nai45 Jan 20 at 1:08
  • @Nai45, yes. It would. I've also heard of Google Docs tactics of saving a copy of the text before large changes (versioning) and saving a backup now and then to have older versions safely stowed away. I realize my answer risks turning this into a software popularity contest, which is actually not what OP asked for (and is usually seen with unkind eyes on the stack exchange networks... since it isn't about facts...) – Erk Jan 20 at 19:35

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