Written by Alyson Thomas
Nov 13 ImageWhere do you keep your notes? That latest draft? That character arch you drafted at 2:00am? Nowadays, you’re probably finding yourself writing tidbits of inspiration on anything from iPads to napkins to computers to notebooks to phones.

Hopefully, most of us have learned about making back up copies of your work, whether that means in an additional file on your computer, print copies, or in the nebulous “Cloud.” With so many places and strategies for saving, it’s easy to lose track of that latest draft or that idea from two years ago you thought was bunk and now is brilliant.
Here are some tips to keeping track of your files:

Step 1: Create a Master-Archives folder. Gather your most complete and/or recent writing files into one master folder on your desktop. Organize the files within however you want (by item or within more sub-folders labeled by year, project title, level of completion, whatever! Just make it clear to you. If your organization changes over the years, write about it and save a copy in the Master-Archives folder. It’s a great writing exercise; helps you reflect on your skills; and may help future lit nerds understand you better.)

Step 2: Get an Online Sync account. Different systems like Dropbox, Carbonite, or Mozy provide free or low-cost file storage, and you’ll worry less about losing docs thanks to your personal system crashing. Download the program to your computer, and you’ll have a folder on your personal hard drive that automatically syncs to an online server. Copy your “Master- Archives” folder into your synced folder. Rename the synced folder “Master- Working.” From now on, only save documents you are drafting or working on in the synced folder.

Step 3: Update the Master-Archive. Set up a regular routine (maybe once every 3 or 4 months) to copy all your “Master-Working” files into your “Master-Archives” folder. It should be a simple drag-and-drop process.

Step 4: Create an external hard drive. At least once a year, make a copy of your “Master-Archives” folder, add a year to the title, and store it in another location on your computer hard drive, AND on an external hard drive.

Your writing files don’t have to be lost forever, scattered into the oblivion of multiple devices or the black hole of your hard drive. Try turning these steps into a regular routine, and you’ll know exactly where everything is without being afraid to lose it all.

Today’s article is a guest post by Alyson Thomas: Alyson developed her love for stories through classical literature, trips to Europe and pilgrimages to theatrical playhouses. She has a degree in English Literature and is currently gaining her library and archives degree from UCLA. She believes the things people say and create now leave artifacts that will make storytellers their worlds and their truths come alive long into the future.