Be Prepared


I prepare for emergencies. It must be that early Girl Scout training. FEMA advises that everyone should have a disaster plan. So, what plans should a writer formulate over and above the usual FEMA stuff?

1. Plan for your risks. Review history and determine what could happen in your area. What things have I considered? Fire, flood, theft, equipment malfunction, my own error. I’ve even wondered what would happen if my offsite, online storage service suddenly vanished. Your risks may vary. Only you can evaluate each scenario.

2. Create backups. If you have only one copy of your work, you are courting disaster. Always keep in mind that multiple backups are only good if they are placed where one local disaster can’t wipe out them all. For instance, three miles separate my office from my house. If a tornado rips through my part of the Midwest, as they are wont to do, keeping a copy of my manuscript at my home and office may not be sufficient. Again, consider your risks and plan accordingly.

3. Keep it real. Can’t afford to mirror all of your electronic information in multiple locations around the globe? Can’t afford a Swiss lock box to store a printed copy of your manuscript? Don’t worry, neither can I. And if the disaster is big enough that it takes down the entire internet, then I’m probably not worrying about my book. I’m more concerned with my water supply. So weigh your risks with a fair dose of practicality. Is it possible that I may mistakenly delete the latest copy of my work in progress? All too possible, so I keep multiple copies on various hard drives and flash drives, taking precautions to keep the information secure. Reasonable. Convenient. Inexpensive. Is it possible that a meteor wipes out the US electrical grid and my novel with it? Yes, but I’m not giving it a high probability, and I’ve made zero planning for that contingency. Practical. If it happens and I still care about the novel, I’ll cobble up some electrical recovery scheme in true MacGyver fashion.

If you are interested in general preparedness, there are all kinds of sites out there with advice. Just be reasonable in your preparations and keep them up-to-date. When your hard drive dies—and it will—you will chuckle when you whip out your flash drive and reinstall your work in progress.

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