Stress and Writing

WriterThis week, I’ve fallen a little behind in writing “Hard Vacuum 2” and the two main causes have been stress and burnout.

Last week, I wrote episode four of Greenstar and I changed up how I write as an experiment. That was a big mistake.

The method I use to write books is something I’ve developed over the past eighteen months and it’s worked really well for me. However, I never stop trying to refine the process. For instance, my editing phase at the moment is slow and I want to improve it.

Varying my work process made writing episode four of Greenstar tougher and it took longer. By the end of the week, I was working four hours a day on it. That’s on top of my day job and family commitments. By the time I handed it over to Dave, I was burnt out on writing.

So I took the weekend off to watch TV, play with my kids and play some computer games. The weekend stretched into Monday, because writing is all about momentum. Stopping writing is like stopping a ten-ton truck. It’s difficult to get it moving again.

On Tuesday, though, I got moving again and wrote through to Wednesday.

Then on Thursday, Dropbox-pocalyse happened. I’d like to acknowledge right off the top that it’s partially my fault. I was relying on Dropbox as a backup solution, when they’re more of a document synchronising solution.

However, on Thursday I noticed that the files for one of my books were missing. I checked Dropbox’s website and it said they’d been deleted at 2:45pm on the previous Sunday. In fact, 883 files had been deleted at random across my folders.

They weren’t entire folders, they weren’t all in the same folder. Seemingly random files had been deleted from each folder within a millisecond of each other. So it couldn’t have been me by accident. My stress levels went up and I contacted their support. At the same time, I began restoring files from the Dropbox website to my folders. That took hours.

Dropbox support contacted me with the equivalent of a shrug. They said that their developers are always looking for feedback on the product and thanks for my input.

I continued to restore files from the Dropbox website and then noticed something that turned my blood to acid. Some of the files weren’t available to restore. They were gone permanently. Two short stories and some other files were gone forever.

The other files contained my ideas for possible future Bytarend novels, amongst other things. That’s when my satisfaction with Dropbox dropped to a 1 out of 10. I’d thought they were awesome right up until they deleted random files forever.

So, I should have had a local backup somewhere, but I didn’t. It’s dumb, I know, but I thought that Dropbox was that backup. Needless to say, I’ve ordered a new hard disk for that purpose.

However, I’d like to mention the hero to come out of all of this. Probably the best piece of software I’ve ever bought: Scrivener. Every time I’ve closed a document in Scrivener, it’s created a new version of it in a different place on my hard disk. That means that Dropbox hasn’t touched those files.

All of my plans and my two short stories were in Scrivener, so they just saved my bacon. Thank you, Scrivener! Now my stress levels have dropped back to manageable levels thanks to them. If you’re not already using Scrivener, go buy a copy and thank me later.


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Bytarend is fast, fun fantasy that'll have you on the edge of your seat. Hard Vacuum is hard-talking, violent science fiction and my tribute to 80s action movies.

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3 thoughts on “Stress and Writing

  1. Think this is one lesson everybody goes through at some point in their life. I now have copious numbers of hard drives that are stuffed with various files. Must admit, buying a Mac and using time capsule has been one of the smartest things I ever did. Glad it turned out ok.

    Nice blog btw. Just picked up Hard Vacuum . Looking forward to being offended 😉

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