Friday, 18 March 2011

Morning Coffee Break

I got into a discussion about the method of writing the other day and found that I'm really quite archaic. It came about when a fellow writer on livejournal (I say 'fellow' though he's far more successful than me) lost a few thousand words to a crash or a virus or somesuch. In the old days when the internet was clockwork I began writing by having a 'master copy' of the WIP and writing in a seperate file (chapter one, chapter two and so on), adding chapters to the master copy as they were copleted and backing them onto a floppy disk (remember those?).

I still do this now -- write in seperate chapter files, I mean, not back onto floppy discs. Soes anyone else do that, or do you write into one master copy. Perhaps you use Scrivener or a similar writing program (Does anyone use Scrivener for windows? I tried the trial version and fould it didn't save my files properly).

These days my files are backed up online using the free applications Dropbox which lets you share folders over different computers or with friends and acts as a permanent backup accessable from the internet and sugarsync which keeps a live copy of your documents online.

I'm about until lunchtime -- after that I'm down in London (ugh) for the weekend.

14 comments:

Leatherdykeuk said...

Commenting myself in order to click 'email me the replies'

DOT said...

Dropbox is brilliant. Particularly, if, like me, you have a netbook with limited memory which you use when on the move. I also use memory sticks to back up work, the worry is they being so small they will fall through a hole in my pocket.

Evernote is another useful app for clipping and storing stuff from the internet as is Delicious. Both help when researching material, the latter particularly so as you can see what others have saved on a particular subject.

andewallscametumblindown said...

I have a program called Idle Backup, which backups up selected files when the computer is idle without having to think about it. I set it to back up to a disk on our server, but now it's no longer connected and I need to find another method.

I now write in one file, but save each chapter to another file (DOC instead of DOCX) for my writing group. ~Miriam

Leatherdykeuk said...

Dot - good call. I have a delicious account but never really utilised it properly.

Miriam -- That's pretty much what I do -- have a backup file.

Debs Carr said...

I use memory sticks and will now use Dropbox on my laptop. I've downloaded photos on it from my computer, but hadn't thought of using it for my writing. No idea why, just dopey probably.

Captain Black said...

I've been using master- and sub-documents pretty much from the outset. It's much easier to manage large writing projects that way. For example, re-ordering chapters can be done in a few clicks, rather than a whole nerve wracking series of clipboard copy/paste operations.

Another tip is that you can have more than one master document that reuses some or all of the sub-document files. Why do this? Well, you might want one version for reading on-screen (single-line spacing, say) and another version or printing and submission (e.g. double-spaced and larger typeface). With careful use of styles, you can achieve this without having to manage two sets of changes when editing, since a change in a sub-document will be reflected in both master documents.

I've tried some of the popular/cheap writing software packages, but I've been underwhelmed so far. Using things like yWriter, Writers' Café and WriteItNow is a bit like doing keyhole surgery; it's very difficult to visualise the overview. I've yet to try Scrivener but that's on my list. For the time being, I shall stick with OpenOffice.

As to the question of backups, you may like to read this article. If you haven't seen it before, it might just scare the crap out of you.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Thanks Cap'n. I'm well aware of the risks. I burn everything to DVD regularly, and a neighbour keeps a copy for me in case the house burns down!

Debs - I highly recommend it :)

andewallscametumblindown said...

Just to say, you can easily move chapters around in Word, with all the chapters in one file, by using outline mode - as long as you allocated Heading 1 style (or a different heading style) for chapter headings.

I've never used the master-documents feature because it's said to be buggy, although maybe this is only true of more complicated, technical documents.

And maybe Open Office doesn't have those problems.

Denise said...

I have one giant file but it would probably be easier to have it in chapters. This is mainly due to my obsessive checking of the word count during the first draft! I could probably bring myself to divide it up later.

For backups the computer gets backed up onto a separate disk (the advantages of having a sys admin other half) and I copy onto memory sticks often. I also give my parents the occasional CD to keep and hope they don't read it!

I've never looked at anything like Dropbox or sugarsync, think I may be even more archaic...

Kate Lord Brown said...

Thanks for the tip about Dropbox - have been relying on emailing m/s to a Yahoo account ... but now I've read Captain B's advice *quakes*

Graeme K Talboys said...

I did leave a comment but I'm having trouble with my computer at the moment. Everything is backed up thrice, however, so not too stressed.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Thanks for all the replies :)

If nothing else, at least backing up has become easier!

Sarah Allen said...

I do write in one big master copy, usually, and email drafts to myself as I write for backup. Good luck with your current projects!

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Leatherdykeuk said...

Thanks Sarah. That's a good process