SAVE YOUR STUFF.
Even if you know you're going to be working on your writing for a while and there's no chance you're going to close the document out, CLICK THAT "SAVE" BUTTON.
Even if you just hit "Save" 30 seconds ago, CLICK THAT "SAVE" BUTTON. Again. For good measure.
If autosave is a thing in the document you're working on, MAKE SURE IT'S DOING ITS JOB.
...My apologies for the intensity, but I'm very triggered right now.
I mean, I know you already know to do this. Everyone does. I'd guess 95 percent of people reading this post have been writing something -- a school assignment, a social media post, a work presentation, a creative project, whatever -- and then randomly lost everything. We share that experience. We share that trauma.
I have a blog post coming to you soon, and I'm pretty excited about it. However, this post is going up first because the other one is under construction.
Why? Guess why. You'll never guess.
Because autosave failed me. I became too dependent on it. Too confident. So, at the end of the day, I suppose you could say I failed myself.
I wrote a great deal of the post, and I was satisfied with it, excited it was coming together exactly the way I wanted it to. Then I backed out of the document and lost nearly all of it because autosave stopped working about five minutes after I started writing, from the looks of it. I was devastated for all of two seconds, angry for another two or so, and then I started over again. I can't do anything else about my lost work but start over, right? No use wasting time being angry when I could be writing.
But I decided to take a break here to turn my pain into content. I have to post something.
Seriously, though, I haven't made a blunder like this since college. I remember the moment vividly: The summer between my freshman and sophomore year, and I had just stayed up all night writing several chapters of my novel that is set in Ireland. (Yes, I've been writing that novel since I was 19 years old. I explained why.)
Anyway, exhausted yet triumphant, I pressed "Save" on my word document, securing all my hard work to my flashdrive. Remember those? Some still use them, but most of us are now heavily reliant on Google docs or some online equivalent. Back in 2008, though, a flashdrive was all I had, and I was sure I had been saving to it for the entire duration of my hours-long, inspiration-fueled writing jag. The haze of sleep deprivation had apparently consumed me and, at some point, as the sun was coming up, I finished and decided to give my mind and eyes a rest.
When I checked on it later that morning, eager to look at everything I'd worked on with fresh eyes (you know that feeling, checking back on your work after writing furiously for hours to see whether it's brilliant or it sucks... usually it's the latter), I discovered either I hadn't saved anything for at least four hours, my attempts at saving had failed for some reason, or I had somehow deleted all the new writing but saved the old stuff. I don't remember trying to figure out the reason, probably because I quickly dissolved into a puddle, desperately trying and failing to find everything I had written.
From that day on, I resolved to never "be caught slipping" again, and to this day I haven't lost a single project as big or significant. This blog post blunder was frustrating, sure, but nowhere near as devastating as it could have been. Had I lost a significant chunk of progress on, say, We Are Eternal, especially while obsessively perfecting it for presentation, I would have lost my ever-lovingmind. If this seems dramatic, I promise you, it isn't. It's every writer's worst nightmare.
So, yes, this is Bianca J. Orellana with a gentle reminder: when you're working on a writing project of any kind -- but especially one you're putting lots of time and effort into --
CLICK THAT SAVE BUTTON.