An Argument for Archiving

I went into my files this week to pull out one of the first drafts of the manuscript I’m doing a revision on. I was hoping that I’d find a scene I knew I’d cut from the current version in this version I thought I had archived. I didn’t find it in there. I checked my electronic archives (I keep both when and where I remember to) and it wasn’t in there either. The last time I’d saved a copy of the story was only a few months before, after I’d made major revisions to the story. So, the lesson from all of this, is archive EVERYTHING. My friend told me a long while ago about how she saves a draft of her stories before she makes any major changes. I thought I was following this advice, but I realize I need to much more diligent about it moving forward.

Looking at this manuscript, I need to make a decision on how to move forward. I need to decide if I follow my original plan and do a revision or if I do a revision and 15-20,000 word addition at the same time. If I go with the revision/addition, I want to print a new copy of the story to make revisions on a paper copy. My family and I watched the show Into the Unknown: The Making of Frozen II which was really inspiring as I work through this decision. Listening to Jennifer Lee discuss her process and watching the journey she and everyone who worked on the film went through was incredibly motivating. It is a phenomenal example and reminder that creating is hard and it requires deletion and change on a pretty consistent basis to get the story right.

I worked on the first draft of a chapter in the new manuscript I’m writing and I don’t think it can be talked about or remembered enough, that writing the first draft of anything is hard. It’s really, really hard and it doesn’t get better no matter how many times it’s done. It’s just the nature of the process. As I was working, I had to battle thoughts in my brain that went something along the lines of, “why are you writing that? Well that sentence is terrible. What? That doesn’t make sense! HOW does she know that? When did she get there?!?” Yeah, tons of fun. BUT, I didn’t quit because I kept reminding myself that in order to get to the next version that will be slightly better, I have to get through this one first. This week I plan to work on the new story, make a decision on the manuscript I need to do some kind of revision on, and generally keep on keeping on.

Do you save a copy of a story before making major revisions to it? Do you keep paper only archives, digital, or a mix of both? Remember, you are strong and you are more than enough.

Happy Writing!

2 thoughts on “An Argument for Archiving

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  1. Haha am I the friend? I definitely save my drafts. I like to label them as Draft 1, Draft 2 (or, if there are only minor revisions, Draft 2.5). I started doing this after finding multiple copies of the same draft on my floppy disks (ack!) and then went back and looked at the last save date and the word counts to make sure I had them in the right order. I’m much better about it now. And I have to make sure as I submit that I have them labelled correctly, too – making sure that my file marked “FULL” is the current draft!

    One thing I started doing recently is using to print out bound copies of my final drafts. I include a page at the end where I can mark all the different revisions with word counts. I have all the drafts listed on my website, too. Just remember to update your computer files every so often, I had a few that have been lost because the formatting gets wonky because they’re so old!!


    1. Yup, it’s you! 😁 Oh that’s a great way to track the progression of the story! I’ve been labeling them (when I remember) with the date I’m saving it, but I like that way of tracking it too. I might combine the two to be able to really track my progress and be able to go back if I need/want to. I’ll have to look up because that’s also a really good idea. Right! I’m working on getting an archiving system with all of these steps down so that I make sure I don’t run into this again.


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