How to Keep Track of Everything You Write – Except for Writing Your Books and Client Projects
“Why should you worry about printed saving copies of everything you write—like blog posts, lead generators, and newsletters, for example?”
After all, my wife continued, “Isn’t your computer is backed up in several places?
It turns out, they were and they weren’t!
It seems that one weekend my Internet service provider had trashed both my blog and website files—both the master files and back-ups. A new hire, my Internet service provider had scrambled my website and their two backups.
“But, Roger, don’t you have your own backups?”
Let’s examine my backups:
Computer files. We were in the process of moving. I was also purchasing a new computer. For back-up, I brought my previous home computer as well as an external hard drive.
When we got to our new home, when I plugged in the old computer and pressed start., nothing happened. Local repair services were not very interested in finding out why at any reasonable price.
Next, I went searching for the external back-up. Problem: it was physicall small. That made it easy to overlook in the chaos of boxes, books, clothes, and furnishings. I couldn’t find it. I still can’t.
What about flash drives—very small thumb drives? Although convenient and newer ones have great capacity, I could only find a few. And, because I had not had a consistent back-up routine, projects often appeared on more than one —or not at all. More confusion and wasted time.
What about online back-ups?
I first turned to DropBox. A couple of problems. The files I wanted were there, but the lack of a consistent folder and file-naming structure, made it frustrating. Worse, only content I had first written and saved on the computer were present. In addition, I only began using online back-up several years after I began my primary website and blog.
What about the Wayback Machine?
My ex-host suggested using Google’s Wayback machine and forwarded a password.
I was initially pleased to find my blog files, but each post—and there were over 500 files and each was saved as a separate text file. The time required to open and evaluate the relevance of each file made the project a major time commitment. Plus, I’d only have to save the files elsewhere.
But, happy as I was to locate the blog post files, the graphics and interview audios were not present. And, neither were the files associated with my website.
Paper copies save the day!
The solution I chose—and had, luckily—been following for several decades was to print a copy of each article and guest post and save them in separate 3-ring binders. Each guest post host or media has their own 3-ring binder. When appropriate, I use tabbed inserts to organize submissions by topic.
This is the same way I technique I faithfully save the latest additions and revisions I have made to my books at the end of each working session. Nothing beats paper for durability or easy reference. I can go back to my earliest weekly submissions to the Personal Branding Blog or industry publications to search for inspiration and relevant topics I can redo or update.
I can also review my articles and newsletters going back to the 1990’s!
Are there costs, or other disadvantages, associated with paper copies?
There are costs, primarily printer ink or toner, 3-hole paper, and the costs of binders. However, there are also frequent sales and promotions at office supply stores and major discount chains.
From a space and weight point of view, there are some minor disadvantages. The binders do take up space, and require taller shelves. When filled, the binders can become very heavy. (Save them on the lowest shelves in your bookcase.)
But, compared to the frustration and stress involved with inaccessible files, nothing beats the presence of paper back-ups! There are no excuses—(except, perhaps, from you when you didn’t print out your latest work).
By themselves, paper back-ups are not the only backups you prepare. They complement, but don’t replace, electronic or cloud back-ups.
In an follow-up Nonfiction Writers Association post, I’ll address some of the ways you can optimize your on-premises and cloud backups.
Roger C. Parker is a popular author, content strategist, and copywriter. Roger’s goal is to help every client make the most of their ideas, writing talent, and business profitability—and enjoy the process. Make his acquaintance via email or LinkedIn.
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” the graphics and interview audios were not present. ”
And you keep a paper copy of audio HOW? (After all, a transcript of an audio is usually a text file, and those were there, right?)
I don’t have a terribly large “written” library for how long I’ve been writing, but I’m running into a similar problem with my photos (around 3,000 a year and climbing). I keep all my SD cards (with one exception, when I filled up a new card so fast I was forced to erase it out of desperation), and everything that’s on my desktop periodically gets copied to my 2T drive as is was stored on the desktop (by year and sub-filed by category). Then I’ve got a few flash drives by subject, so if I want to paint, say, birds with my painting group, I can just grab the appropriate thumbdrive (this phase is still in development) and won’t have to search through every year to find the birds I’m looking for. If I had 500+ blog posts, I’d probably have a drive sorted by subject. I warehouse my flash drives in Altoids tins.
I’ve often wished someone would develop a personal microfiche printer. They take up a lot less space than paper, and in a pinch, you could read them with a cheap microscope.