Losing your Writing

There’s nothing worse than losing a good idea because you forgot to write it down – except maybe writing it down then losing the notebook you wrote it in…

IMG_0492I keep notebooks. I make notes, write down observations, record snippets of conversations, jot ideas and make lists. I have spiral bounds notebooks, composition books with marble covers, legal pads, and notebooks small enough to fit in my purse.  Once I fill a notebook or finish with it I keep it. But I have a terrible habit of writing things down and then forgetting which notebook I wrote them in.

I can’t be the only one who has done this.

I am now kicking myself because I have written something (potentially) brilliant and can’t find the notebook it is written in.

I came across this particular piece earlier this summer while I was cleaning out my filing cabinet, penned in an old notebook. I remember writing it, sitting in class and ignoring the lesson entirely, instead filling eight or ten pages reflecting on the most awkward and hellish years of my life – middle school. While the writing itself isn’t my greatest, it was written with such honesty and clarity I could remember the night before that first day of school like it was yesterday.

I thought I’d like to reread it, perhaps rework it into some sort of personal essay, not necessarily for public consumption, but for my own enjoyment.

And now that I can’t find that notebook anywhere, I’m afraid I have lost it, that I perhaps threw it away in my cleaning frenzy.

But how could I have done such a thing? As a rule, I never throw my writing away, no matter how terrible it may seem. Anything we’ve written represents what we were feeling at that moment. I still have stories I write longhand in elementary school, but lost an entire novel-length story I wrote in high school that I had saved on a 3.5 inch floppy disk (yeah, remember those?)

What is a writer to do when she has lost a piece of writing?

The obvious advice here is to BACKUP YOUR WORK. With great tools like Dropbox I can save my work to the Cloud and access it just about anywhere. But that doesn’t help me keep track of my random scribbles on scraps of paper.

Have you ever lost your writing?

8 thoughts on “Losing your Writing

  1. This is a great tip, one that I think about often (but unfortunately never do!) I save my more involved work to a flash drive and sometimes email it to myself, but I really need a more comprehensive system. Is Dropbox easy to use?

    • Dropbox is easy to use and its Free!

      The files sync so that you can access your files from multiple computers – I even have it on my iPhone. You can also access your files on your web account, in case you’re on a computer that doesn’t have Dropbox installed.

      I highly recommend it!

      • “Easy to use” are the key words. Glad to have your endorsement. I’ll put this on my weekend To-do list. Many thanks, Jennifer!

  2. Great post! It reminds me of when I lost the first story I ever wrote (in middle school). The story was saved on a floppy disk, and to this day, it bothers me that I lost it. Like you, I also have a lot of notebooks and it is tough to remember which was the one where I wrote down a particular idea! I agree — back up everything!

  3. Personally, I haven’t thank goodness! But a good writer friend of mine had his computer crash while in the middle of writing a novel! Luckily, he was able to retrieve his manuscript. Of course, it made this professor wish to back everything up. Always.

  4. I am always loosing my writing only to discover it later (by later I mean days or even years). I think the short story I regret most loosing is a short story that I wrote in grade 10 english on my laptop. I have been thinking about it for a while now; trying to figure out how I could expand it and make it more interesting.
    Now, 4 years later, I have decided that any noveling I do it will be done in notebooks or on looseleaf then tucked into binders, duotangs, etc. My writing has barely survived a computer harddrive implosion so I feel I would do better writing by hand.
    Absolutely love every post, its the most exciting part of my day to read old articles or your newest one!

    • I know what you mean – with technology changing every few years, I think I have managed to backup most of my writing but I have definitely lost things – especially photos! Unfortunately, I’m even worse at keeping track of all my notebooks and handwritten notes!

      I’m so glad you enjoy the blog – thanks so much for your kind words! 🙂

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