A new year is turning, and we couldn’t be more excited to see what is ahead for each and every one of you. A big part of this year OUR year is getting into the right mindset to create, and to do that, we should all turn our attention to a few housekeeping items.
Housekeeping Task #1:
Back up your work.
I know, it’s obvious. And yet…do you? I mean we all know the danger of not backing up work, but let’s face it, computer crashes happen to OTHER people, right? Um, no. It can and probably WILL happen to you at some point. So, yep, back your work up. Now’s the perfect time to do it.
Housekeeping Task #2:
Do some weeding.
Weeding? Um, Angela…it’s winter. The only weeds outside are curled up in their death throes under the snow.
Bear with me…I promise it isn’t the eggnog talking. The overgrown gardens we need to turn our attention to are the word files on our computers.
Think about it…just how many versions of the same story do you have on your computer? How many blog posts, revisions of query letters, pitches, story notes, character profiles and worksheets…well, you get the idea.
Over the years, this stuff piles up. It becomes a mountain of data. The truth is, we can’t bear to let any of it go, these words of ours. We’re so sure that at some point, we’ll want that 7th revision of chapter 9, absolutely. And even if we finish the novel and move on to another, dang it, maybe that discarded paragraph 3 in that first draft can be used in a new story!
Group therapy time: we need to let some of these old files go. Once we’ve finished revisions on a book, there’s really no reason to keep all the old bits and bobs. So take a look at the scary patch of files and ask yourself, do I really need this? If you truly don’t, give yourself a Christmas gift and purge.
Housekeeping Task #3:
Okay, up until now, we’ve taken some baby steps. You’ve done well. In fact, you’re a freaking rock star. But now…we need to talk about the biggie. I know, you don’t want me to go there, but I have to. It’s the Thing That Must Not Be Named.
Your desk. Your workpace.
Yes, I know your dirty little secret…those drawers are an episode of Hoarders. Maybe several episodes. You think my desk looks any different? It doesn’t.
Here’s the deal: if we really want to give ourselves a clear mind in January, we need to clean our surroundings. Make our fresh start a TRUE fresh start.
If your desk is a mess, your drawers are filled with God-knows-what, and there’s so much of it you haven’t seen the bottom in a good year or two, it’s time to excavate.
Trust me, you will feel so much better knowing those drawers actually shut like they are supposed to. And it probably won’t kill you to dust. Or empty the trash. So sort, organize and recycle!
And here’s a bonus tip for making this your year…check into One Stop for Writers.
This site is a portal to some of the most powerful tools out there for writers. You’ll find everything you need to create, even a Storyteller’s Roadmap that lead you through Planning, Writing, and Revising, step-by-step. It’s like having a book coach at your shoulder.
If you like, come give the Free Trial a try.
Here’s to a fantastic year ahead. We hope it is your best one yet!
Happy writing & organizing!
~Angela & Becca
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Judi Ring says
I back up to a thumb drive each time I revise anything, and also used iDrive. Note past tense.
I picked up a file from iDrive one day, and the next day my computer crashed. Went to iDrive and it refused to recognize my backup files password, even though it had worked the previous day. And it seems iDrive has no way of getting you back into the files, because no one but you knows the correct username/password.
Laurie Evans says
I’m working on these three things over the next few weeks. Last year I sorted and tossed a lot of useless stuff off my computer, but this year I need to do some fine-tuning.
Glynis Jolly says
Housekeeping Task #2 is what I need to work on. I don’t have any WiPs that are finished (novels that it), but some of these unfinished works will never be finished. Why do I keep them around? Some are good for inspiration to start new stories, but there are a few just sitting around taking up space in my cloud. I should get rid of them.
Peter L Holmes says
Each day I send my MS to myself on email…just in case! Each day I back up my work onto an external hard drive as big as a chocolate bar. Two keys on my computer aren’t doing what they should..your article has prompted me to get the damn things fixed.
I dusted off my old blog and added a new section to document my new journey as a novel writer in 2017. I made my first post and included a link to your site because it is filled with so much great information…then I hop over here and find this. How did you know? It might have even been three years since I’ve seen the bottom of the big drawer on the desk! Ugh. Happy New Year and God bless!
Celia Lewis says
I am a genealogist as well as a fiction writer, and the genealogy community is adamant about backing up – those photos, documents, maps, land deeds, wills, etc. – are such treasures. The recommendation from the tech’y genealogists, are simple and very clear: Back up 3 ways, one of which MUST be off-site [e.g., on a CD in your bank or at a friend’s].
Example: My computer automatically backs up daily to an external hard drive, Backblaze weekly backs my entire computer up to the cloud (its servers), and specific items are backed up on Dropbox moment by moment. Best: make it all automatic, so it’s always done. And always know how long your computer or hard drive or thumb drive is “expected to last”. Laptops – abt 4-6 years, for example. Great reminder for everyone.
Last year, I made the rule that my desk got cleaned on top every month. And the drawers got cleaned out twice a year. The computer… I’m working my way through my folders, 10 at a time. And to think I used to think I was totally disorganized and sloppy. Necessity teaches us! Happy New Year.
Marcy Kennedy says
Backing up our work is so important! I signed up for Carbonite (which I love) and I also have an external hard drive that I plug in to my computer, giving me an onsite and an offsite backup.
DT Krippene says
All my WIP is saved with a day date suffix in Word. Past dated copies stored “Story Archive” folder. Thanks for reminder to clean desk. Haven’t seen the wood desktop in a while. Happy New Year.
I agree with the “housecleaning” and I agree with the purging, but not in a “delete” way, but maybe in a “let’s save it to a CD” way 🙂 I think it’s important to have record of revisions, etc., and I’m not one to let go of anything that “may” come in handy, including things like packing paper and cardboard and foam. You get the idea 😉
Robin E. Mason says
oh so timely, Angela!! Two weeks ago my fan died and I was sick because I have been lazy about backing my files!! I was able to turn it on long enough to save the critical docs to a slash drive. Father God is good to me – I know people: one friend did the work (no charge) and another sent money for the parts – I got a new keyboard, too, no more sticky keys.
That moment of panic though,knowing ALL my work, manuscripts and blog, were locked on my computer, and not knowing if it was dead in the, er, water.
lessons peeps ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR WORK!!! DAILY!!!
carol Baldwin says
Funny–I was just thinking about doing some of this purging. Something about the new year! Best to you and Rebecca and thanks for all you do!
Judi Ring says
I read recently that you should have your main file on the computer and at least two thumb drives or other backup in case one of the thumb drives fails.
And I can vouch for the fact that they do. I had all my backups on one and when I plugged it into the the computer, it couldn’t see it.