It is, quite possibly, the WORST feeling in the world to have poured your heart and soul into a project...ALL of your emotion...ALL of your creative energy...only to have some kind of crazy computer glitch just 'zap' it right out of existence forever. Gone. Never to be seen again. The experience is heartbreaking! I've had it happen to me quite a number of times in the past. Either the 'Save' function didn't work like it was supposed to, or the file got corrupted...my laptop fizzled out on me, or my files got hacked, or my website was shutdown without any warning...I can honestly say that I've probably LOST just as much writing as I've posted on my website over the years. And it never ever gets any easier to deal with. Because, while writing takes time and notes and a game plan set into motion ahead of time so you know what kind of story you want to make...the actual writing itself is a very emotional and spontaneous act. You sit at your keyboard with a feeling and a purpose...and you 'bleed' through your words. Right then, right there, while you're in the moment. You search for just the right words. Just the right phrases. Just the right metaphors. And with your passion and focus working together...you create moments in your writing that express exactly what you're thinking and exactly how you're feeling at that particular time in your life. Once you lose that...even by accident...you can't ever get those moments back. It's like setting fire to a photo album full of your baby pictures. It hurts. Especially when it's something that you worked really really hard on so you could get everything just the way you wanted it. Yeah, there's no feeling in the world like losing your creative expression with a technological screw up or the click of the wrong button.
BUT...that doesn't mean that you have to give up on saying what you need to say with your work. If you want to take some time before starting over, that's fine. In fact...I encourage that. But when the anger and the frustration passes, you've got to pick yourself back up, add some wood to the fire, and get your ass back in gear. If this was a story that you felt you needed to tell the first time around... you still need to tell it the second time around. What's changed? You have something in your heart that you wanted to share with the world, and chances are that the world needs to hear it. So dust yourself off and get back to work. That story isn't going to magically write itself. Get up, soldier! There's work to be done!
Having been through this sad process myself many times before, I hope this article will inspire you guys to keep going, and take steps towards starting again, despite the harsh blow that our imperfect tech might have dealt you.
Step number one...'Grieve'.
Hehehe, seriously...take a short break to get over losing all of your hard work. The reason I say this is because it's a truly aggravating experience, and there will be a sudden urgency within you to try to jump right back into your story and start typing away before you lose all of the wonderful things you had in mind before they leave you! I can tell you from experience...this is a mistake. Any writer that is truly invested in their own work and writes from the heart 'exposes' themselves in their writing. It's automatic. The emotion flows freely and it affects your every word choice and description that you put on that page, and if you charge into rewriting your story with a head full of anger and frustration and despair...those feelings are going to come through in your writing. Your readers will feel it. And unless a pissed off author who just lost a lot of hard work and had to start all over from scratch is the vibe that you're going for...you're going to end up writing a very different story from the one you intended to write initially. So...it's gonna SUCK for a while, yes...but take a few days to breathe and get all that out of your system before jumping back into it. K? Your readers will subliminally detect your frustration no matter how careful you think you are about hiding it. Or...they'll just figure out the hint from the number of 'F'-bombs and heavy exclamation marks you use in this new version!
Step number two...'Look for your notes'.
I once made the huge mistake of keeping a majority of my notes and ideas for stories online. Needless to say, I don't do that anymore. I don't trust ANY online program to keep my hard work safe unless I absolutely HAVE to! Not a server, not a word processor, not my own email, not a 'cloud'...NOTHING! I've been screwed over by every last one of them in the past. So *FUCK* the internet! Hehehe! (See? That frustration? It's still there, and it comes out in my writing. Hehehe!) I actually go out, and I buy physical notebooks and physical pens and I jot down notes on my own where I can see them and hold them in my hand. So unless my house burns down to the ground, I don't have to worry about something like...WebTV suddenly ending their service and losing a TON of my emails and saved stories in the process! Grrrrr!
Keep personal notes on your spontaneous thoughts and feelings concerning a certain story, and keep them in a place where you have easy access to them. If the unthinkable happens, and you lose your story online...go back to the notes that you took ahead of time, and use that 'bare bones' structure you referred to in order to write the first story as a guide to start over again. Not only will you have access to your most awesome ideas, but after reviewing them, you might even come up with NEW ideas that you never even thought of beforehand. They will help to keep you in the same frame of mind, so always keep your notebooks close to the hip.
Step number three...'DON'T try to recreate your original work'!
I speak from experience when I say...that will never ever happen. I don't mean for this to sound depressing, but all of those thoughts and emotions and literary choices that you made 'in the moment' to create that masterpiece of yours? They're gone. Gone for good. And they're never coming back. This is something that you have to take some time to embrace and accept so you can move forward. You will drive yourself CRAZY trying to remember the exact wording of certain passages and dialogue that you wrote before. Trying to rewrite your opus, word for word, isn't possible. You will only end up weakening your own writing by even attempting such a thing.
Let your old project go. Keep the feel of it, but start anew. You have your notes, you have your passion and your focus, and while you may see many 'shadows' of your previous work in your new project...it'll never be the same. Don't go backwards and try to create a carbon copy of what you've already done. Move forward, and write something even BETTER. Otherwise, you'll just be rehashing old ideas and stale emotions from moments that have long passed you by, broadcasting your regret to your readers for not being able to effectively pull it off twice.
It's ok. There *IS* no effectively pulling it off twice! That's what makes writing so personal, and so unique. Have faith in yourself. You wrote a masterpiece before, you can write one again. Your talent hasn't changed, nor has your drive to tell a great story. So go for it! It'll be fine. K?
A quick recap...
#1 - Take Time To Grieve.
Don't rush to start writing again. Losing irreplaceable thoughts and emotions SUCKS!!! Take some time to wring that out of your system before you try to 'clone' your own genius.
#2 - Look For Your Notes.
The ideas and brilliant bits and pieces of or your original story might still exist in the notes you took before writing it the first time. Get yourself back in the same frame of mind and remember why you wanted to write that story in the first place. It might inspire you all over again.
That's it for this particular article. I hope it helps. And remember to save save SAVE your work! Keep TEN copies in ten different places if you have to! Email it to yourself at three different accounts! Save it in LibreOffice, in Notepad, on Google+...ANYWHERE that you can save a copy...save one. After 'gay material' witch hunts on Tripod, and email malfunctions, and laptop or hard drive crashes...I have grown WEARY of losing some of my BEST work to technology. But...as much as it hurt...I had to keep going. And you guys can keep going too. So take some time, watch some TV, deal with the loss...and then give it a second try. You may end up topping what you originally had planned!