Wednesday, 2 August 2017

#protip versioning

I recently saw a post in which an author suffered a major setback - he'd lost thousands of words in his Work in Progress. Twenty thousand, to be specific.


I can only imagine the feels. To me, it would be like losing a part of myself I could never get back.

I'd like to share my one weird tip to reduce the chances of such a loss.

Introducing... Versioning.

As in saving different versions of your work as distinct documents. I started doing this in University when working on my BSc in Computer Programming and found it works the same way for writers.

Basically, it's a three step process.

1) Name your document with the date at the end. I go mm-dd so they are sorted nicely.

2) At the end of each day (or start) use that save as button in Pages or Word or Open Office and advance the date. Now you have two files, yesterdays and todays.

3) Email yesterdays to yourself.


Yep, that's it. Save a new version of your WIP every day.

I use a third party email with an unlimited inbox so there is lots of storage.

Ever wished you could go back in time and find that brilliant passage you deleted months ago?

Yep, it's there. Depending how far down the rabbit hole you want to go you can quickly access all your past versions.

For me, each book has a folder and within it I have folders with years and months and way down at the bottom I have the individual days.

(Nope, you can't see the Nicky Strike covers yet, still super sekrit!)

Versioning not only helped me avoid the dreaded F on a programming project but has allowed me to roll back to a previous version of my work if I make a catastrophic "replace all" error or decide I'm barreling down the wrong plot path.

Mileage will vary, of course. If you're using Scrivener for the like, those products may take care of this for you. If you're all about brilliant writing in free Open Office or $20 Pages, getting into the habit of versioning will reduce the likelihood of losing chapters or spending hours fixing all your quotation marks.

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