This phrase has so many meanings. "Back up" as in physically move backwards; we might tell someone to "back up" when they told us something we didn't understand. We might ask someone if they had a "backup" - either a plan or duplicates of their computer files when it died. I say the Internet is "back up" after my connection has been down.
Back up is also an appropriate phrase to apply to writers.
Moving physically back is pretty obvious:
- we back up and reread for editing
- we go back to add necessary details or expand scenes
- we step back from our work to see it with a fresh eye.
Making "backups" is one we creative people often ignore.
We don't like making backup plans. Can't go to that event/conference after all? Agent A doesn't like our story. What if the editor rejects the new book? What will we do next? Having a plan in place, makes it easier to keep moving forward.
Probably the scariest "backup" fault we have is not having duplicates of our computer files. Each time I heard of someone losing all their files due to a hard drive failure, I'd tell myself I'd work harder at backing up more often. Every time my goal of once a month quickly dissolved and I only backed up a couple times a year. If I was doing well.
In 2006, I decided to change that. For my birthday I asked for an automatic backup device. Attached to my computer, it backed up my files EVERY NIGHT. I wondered why I didn't do it years ago...
But nothing is ever permanent in the world of computers. That device eventually failed. And I'd gotten a laptop, too. So I started saving everything from my desktop onto a usb thumb drive and copying it to my laptop. I did the reverse of copying any changes I made on the laptop back to the thumb drive and putting it back on my desktop.
That was great, but I worried about what would happen if my house burned down or someone broke in and stole all the electronics. For insurance, I got an online backup system--this was before people referred to storing items in "the cloud." Again, that system eventually failed to work. (It saved files, but I couldn't restore them anymore, so what was the point?)
Next, I was introduced to dropbox, which lets you store files online for free. Similarly to using a usb drive, it is a great way to transfer copies from one computer to another. Some people use dropbox as a way to backup their work. It's great if and when you remember to save copies there.
Last year, I decided to pay for an automatic online backup again. After listening to some discussions about services, I chose Carbonite. One of the things I love is it saves versions of files. In other words, if I wished I'd kept a copy of last week's file instead of overwriting it with this week's--both are there. It's really easy to use, too.
I know that was a long story, but partially I told it to show that there are different options and partially to show that you ALWAYS need to check that your backup method is still working and affective.
Okay, the last "back up" definition in my opening referred to being online. For me holiday preparations and activities take me off line for writing. Time is more limited. Focus is more difficult. Now that the holidays are over it is time for me to be "back up." Back focused, back spending enough time, back making progress on projects, back to submitting. How about you? Are you "back up"?
Wishing you the best at getting back up to speed, if you're not already, and to making those backups!