The inevitability of that perfectly fluid stream of thought that just came from nowhere, and lived, even if ephemerally in your mind, is quickly outputted through your fingertips, well, that’s just a glorious moment of material. It happens. It’s bound to happen if you write enough. You sit at the computer with zero plan of what will show up. You just sit. You write. Very pantster style (writing by the seat of your pants). This is mostly how I write.
And that precious paragraph, or that couple of pages of diction bliss, you didn’t back-up, did you? It’s just been lost to become the ethers of some digital implosion. Blame the power outage, blame your busy schedule, blame lack of funds to get an external hard drive (though, really, that’s hardly an excuse when thumb drives are less than a burger meal out).
My friend is the autosave.
I was working in WordPad the other day, and it only took a loss of a paragraph for all this to return to me, all this ‘oh ya, right, I had a routine, and what happened to that?’. I was only using WordPad because I didn’t think I needed anything more complicated in my netbook. I write. It’s just text. I could easily transfer whatever document I had by email, or by cloud (though, the latter, I must admit, I haven’t cuddled up to just yet). I had never really used WordPad before; I’ve always used MS Word. I was spoiled when I was a student and got MS Office for a really good deal, but even before that, the early-early versions of Word, well, we kind of grew up together. Before-thought: no, of course WordPad doesn’t have the same features; it’s basic. Who really needs umpteen font styles? After-thought: no, they definitely don’t have the same basic features. Redo is limited. Autosave, no existe. I call these basic necessities, but apparently they aren’t considered as such in WordPad.
I had a beautiful paragraph just flow out of me as I sat comfy with netbook on lap, cushions behind me. I was effectively applying what I was used to: Ctrl +Y to redo an accidental undo. That right there is a no-go in WordPad: undoing an undo by redoing it. My lines of text were not reappearing; they were disappearing up the page! Eek! Anyway, I lost it. Gone. Poof. Thank goodness it wasn’t more.
Ah! But it should be autosaved, right? Wrong. Last resort: look in the temp directory, right? Wrong. It was really gone.
Autosave and MS Word are more highly appreciated now. I’ve set the autosave to one minute, not ten as before (what was I thinking?). Surely for a writer, anything more than a minute is risking loss of some brilliant lines, or entire scenes. I do Ctrl+S plenty, but in the midst of being in a writing headspace, autosave will surely prevent a few profanities. WordPad has been obliterated and heartily replaced by Word on my netbook. I love you autosave.