The Burning Question: How Far Would You Go to Save Your Writing?

firefighter save your writing

I come across intriguing and surprising things on social media just about every day. Today’s prize? This gem from the BBC:

Now, this piece is a few years old. But it showed up again on Twitter with just one question posed to writers. Would you do what this guy did to save your writing?

Why you might–or might not–face the fire to save your writing

Responses in the thread were mixed. But the majority of people had a common point. Why would you ever need to run into a burning building?! There are tools like Google Drive that make it insanely easy to back up drafts!

Dissenters gave three main rationales, the first of which was their choice of tool. The assumption is that writing will happen on technology like a laptop, but this isn’t always the case. Many writers prefer to draft on regular, old-fashioned paper. Others use options like typewriters. In these cases, it’s the experience of the process that makes the difference.

Secondly, some writers mentioned that their writing needed plenty of revision. Put another way, they simply didn’t have enough faith in what they’d produced to say they’d take a real risk for it.

Finally, some writers go out of their way to keep their writing private. They don’t make digital or hard copies because they’re afraid that someone will rob them or judge the manuscript before it is “ready”. They’d rather have strict control of access than a backup.

Do us all a favor

Now, if you just think your work sucks and don’t care to save it, well, okay. That’s your choice. But I’d be quick to remind you that unexpected success has shocked more than one writer.

And if you believe in yourself or at least have hope that someday you’ll have a draft others will care about as much as you do, then you have an obligation to figure out how you will create a backup for your work. That holds whether you use photocopies, to-self email attachments or the cloud. This is first and foremost because you need to respect both your life and the life of anyone who would try to rescue you in an emergency. But strictly from the standpoint of the craft, once a manuscript is lost, it’s usually lost forever.

You owe it to your current and future readers to ensure that the worlds, characters, and situations you envision will last beyond a lifetime.

So although the method is entirely up to you, just do everybody a favor.

Back that sh-t up.