Insecure Writers Support Group

Wow, time’s flying. I can’t believe it’s already February. It’s also time for another IWSG post. For those of you who don’t know, IWSG is a bloghop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, where writers share their insecurities and encouragement once a month. It’s never too late to join, so if you want to, go here.

On the night of 26 December, 2011, I suffered the most catastrophic loss of data ever. I’d used a certain freeware program to do all my rewrites, which added up to well over one hundred thousand words. After many attempts, I managed to save a few chapters of some of the projects. But the original rewrite of Doorways was gone. Luckily, I’d already started to edit at that time, so I had a copy if I declined all edits.

What broke my heart was this. I’d written a western that year. I rewrote it too. I finished the rewrite on 24 December.

I lost: Every. Single. Word.

Of all the words I wanted to recover, that project was it.

It broke me. Really. Sure, I went on with all the other projects I saved, but I just didn’t have the heart to start the western again. So I postponed the rewrite to 2012. Didn’t happen. And 2013. That didn’t happen either.

But this will be the year. In fact, I’m going to read the rough draft today. By the end of the week, I want the first words of the re-rewrite down.

Thing is, I have this horrible thought. I’d loved the rewrite. I thought it was touching, and emotionally rich and brilliant. And I know that theoretically, I should be able to make this rewrite even better.

Except… what if I can’t? What if I lost its heart and soul that night?

Needless to say, I know I’m being stupid, but the idea of opening that rough draft fills me with trepidation. Nothing to do but start, though.

Have you ever lost a project and delayed starting it again due to insecurity?


30 thoughts on “Insecure Writers Support Group

  1. I know that “what if I can't” feeling. I lost book 2 of a trilogy and had to re-write it twice. I still wonder if the original writings weren't the best I did. Eventually I saved other projects to so many backups I never knew which one was the most recent. Yep, losing data can make a writer crazy.

    Hang in there Misha. It will work out.


  2. Last summer, my hard drive just gave out one day, and I lost everything. I had some stuff backed up, but some of my writing stuff was gone. So I can feel your pain.

    If it's any consolation to you, nothing is truly lost if you can remember the gist of the story or the writing that you did. It might take some time to compile it all together again, but you can still check off the first draft and call this the revision or the second draft.

  3. I have never lost a project in such a dramatic fashion. In fact, my heart was crying for you as I read this. I have no idea what I'd do. But you'll never know how good it can be unless you try. And with 2 extra years of experience, wow – just imagine how brilliant it could be. Good luck!!

  4. I haven't had this experience, and like Annalisa, my heart broke for you as I read this. I don't know what I would do, but I imagine I'd delay starting it again for the same fear.

    But I know things will work out for you.

  5. Oh god, I never knew that… that is AWFUL. It's so heartbreaking to lose work like that. It makes me shudder just thinking about it.

    Here's the best advice I can offer: it will be brilliant, and heartfelt, as long as you don't do one simple thing – try to recreate, exactly, what you had before. That's a lesson I learned as an actor; you can't ever duplicate a performance, because as soon as you try, you're not IN the scene, experiencing it, reacting to it. Instead, you're stuck in your head. The same goes for writing. You follow the basic structure, you tell the same story, but you do it NOW. Do you know what I mean? I hope I'm making sense….

    GOOD LUCK!!!

  6. Yeah I had a computer crash on me. I lost everything because I was bad about baking things up. all I had was some notes and things I'd written on paper. It was six months before I even started writing again. Good luck on coming back to your story.

  7. A few months ago when I finished the first draft of my WIP I went looking for the start of another novel I had postponed because the WIP had just taken over. I searched and searched and searched and found nothing. I was so heartbroken. All I did at the time was outline what I new the story to be and continued with editing my WIP. I just started it up again last week now that I'm taking a break from editing. It feels good, like I'm doing it justice, like it wasn't completely lost.

  8. Oh, that hurts. I can't even imagine how much that hurts. I grew up with a programmer who was always into the whole “Save multiple copies” mantra. I've lost little things when computers died, but nothing that big. I'm so sorry. I think you'll be able to find the magic of that original project. It lives in you.

  9. I almost did….but saved it on time. I can't imagine the feeling 😦
    You're too great and take your work too seriously for you not to make it totally awesome. You can so do it!

  10. That is horrible. So sorry that happened to you. Part of you fear might be losing it again. But, you won't, because you back up docs, now. Trust yourself. You created this piece once, and although it will never be the same, it will likely have more to it than you imagined. It's like telling a story over and over. You find it gets tighter and better the more you retell it.

  11. I lost something once a long time ago though a friend managed to recovery it in a big tangled messy document. I learned to backup, backup and then backup. Haven't lost anything more than a few pages since then. Go for it. I bet it's even better than before.

  12. Oh Misha. I can't even imagine. I'm a little paranoid/psycho about backing up my writing once I realize it's something I like.

    You WILL get that same heart back—even if it doesn't happen right away, don't give up. I read that J.K. Rowling's first inspiration for Harry Potter occurred on a long train ride and she had all kinds of ideas coming at her, but didn't have anything to write it down on. I think a lot of people might've gotten off that hours-long train ride and figured the story was lost because it hadn't been captured…but it sure wasn't, and neither is yours.

  13. I've been so lucky, and obsessive about backing my writing up, and haven't lost any. But it must be heartbreaking. I'm so sorry that happened and wish you all the best in recreating your story.

  14. I sympathize as this also happened to me last June, and I lost some of my stories that weren't backed up. Fortunately, most of my work is saved on other systems, and I'm extra careful about having several copies made.

  15. I've delayed, and am delaying, many projects due to insecurity and/or failure to retrieve. Fortunately, I haven't lost a big project as of yet. So sorry. That would break me – at least temporarily – too. But you've grown as a writer and person since then. I bet it will be even stronger this time around.


  16. I really have Misha, but you know what? You are a better writer now than you were then. And there will be traces of the words you most loved, lingering in your longterm memory. As you write they will come to you and in fits of excitement, carried a wave of recollection and joy, you will create magic. All the best!

  17. I would totally feel that way if this happened to me. It's on a much larger scale, but reminds me of how it felt to lose a lot of work on an essay or something. You would suddenly be sapped of all energy and the thought of starting over again was just too painful.

    With an entire novel you adored, that is just horrid!

    So glad to hear 2014 will be the year though 🙂

  18. I can't imagine how you felt, it must be awful to lose something you spent so much time on. You just need to think – you did it before, you can do it again. It might even be better than the re-write you lost. You never know before you try 🙂
    Good luck!

  19. Absolutely! Sometimes I look at something I've written and wonder where I found the words – feeling absolutely sure that I won't be able to do it again. To lose a whole piece of work you loved – the thought of rewriting is so daunting. I bet it starts coming back to you though, with the improvements that having honed your skills for a couple of years will bring. Just go for it! Good luck 🙂

  20. A similar thing happened to me recently – although it was nowhere near as disastrous as yours! I recently lost all my prep work for the very first series I was writing…the detailed synopsis, the rough draft (around 20,000 words), my spreadsheet with all my scenes on, character profiles…you name it, it was gone. I was gutted when I found out, but I am hoping that when I do finally have the heart to begin again, I'll be able to make it better this time round :).
    It's probably not much consolation, but I reckon everything happens for a reason – when you begin the rewrite again, I'm sure it'll be even more amazing than your first one :)! Good luck!

  21. So sorry for your loss! I'm probably going to sound ignorant, but when you say “freeware” program, was this from or on your hard drive? Again, sounding ignorant, but did you try to do a system restore, going back to the date before you lost the information? The reason I ask is about five years ago, our hard drive crashed. Using the tech service at HP, we were able to restore most of what we'd lost, documents and such. The only thing we lost for good was all of our photos! We'd scanned pictures of when the girls were young and lost all of this. Luckily, we had kept some hard copies in photo albums, but from 2003-2008, all of those were digital photos, which couldn't be recovered.

    My husband hooked up an external hard drive. The computer is set to back up documents / photos every day onto the external. It's our safety net. The other thing I started doing was backing up those documents I don't want to lose to my Google Drive. I also have all my unedited, 1st drafts on a thumb drive, which I if I were smart, I'd keep updated, but I've grown lazy.

    You might consider looking into an external hard drive and or backing up important docs to Google Drive.

    Keep your chin up. 🙂

  22. I'm so sorry to hear that. Yes. I lost the last act of my romance and I was on a publishing deadline. I lost it twice. I cried, couldn't meet my deadline, and cried some more. But everything turned out well. I'm sure everything will turn out well for you. You get to fall in love all over again. =)

  23. Ugh, sorry to hear this Mischa. I've never lost data like that yet–I backup twice after every modification. But I can just imagine how heartbreaking it is. You know, I've heard authors saying that after they write their first draft they throw all of it out and then start the story fresh. So if you look at it that way, it may be a good op to revise from your head, so to speak.
    Good luck with it. You can do it. 🙂

  24. Wow, I had no idea you'd lost such a MAJOR amount of work! Just reading your post makes me feel like I need to back up anything I've ever written RIGHT NOW (even though it's all backed up already). I am SO SORRY. If I lost an entire novel, I don't know if I could ever go back to it. Maybe after a few years, like you, but eish. I don't know. I admire your resolve to rewrite the whole thing. And I'm sure you can make it even better than it was before! After all, if it's been a few years, then you've progressed as a writer. This book can only get better 🙂

    PS – Need to make a plan to meet up with you!

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