10K Day Tips: How to Avoid Time or Words Lost from Computer Disasters

By guest blogger John Van Natta

Twice while attempting to reach the 10K Day goal of 10,000 words I suffered the agony of defeat. Despite my failure I was given praise and even kudos from Milli and fellow participants for my valiant attempts. The encouragement smoothed my feelings, but I still wanted to reach the 10K goal.

Following Milli’s guidance I was able to achieve my goal. During this process I learned a couple of things that could be beneficial to you.

Two days before the 10K Day event, I was working on my computer. I use a wireless mouse, which I have taken for granted. While typing away, the batteries in my mouse started to give out and soon were totally dead. It was only then I realized I had developed a dependent relationship with my mouse.

I was now out of commission for finishing my document. I searched around the house for some AA batteries. Finally, I gave up and drove to town to make the purchase.

Whew! I was glad they didn’t go dead two days later. I doubt I would have reached my goal of 10K if my mouse had died during the event. I now keep extra AA batteries in my desk drawer.

My computer is set for automatic backup whenever I am typing documents. I also have a total backup system on my computer, set to back up all data onto an external disk drive each night. I was typing away on my 10K story. I had reached the 8K mark and knew that I was going to achieve success. It was at this time my Microsoft Word program blinked a couple times and then disappeared from my computer screen.

I reopened Word but the document I had been typing on all day was nowhere to be found. Great excuse for not reaching my goal, but who would believe that tale? I gave thought to starting over—but how would I be able to reconstruct such a great group of profound words for this exceptional story?

I spent some time attempting a recovery act. I was partially successful: I found an earlier version where I had reached 4,800 words and I was able to retrieve it. At least now I had only lost about 3K and I still had time to achieve my 10K goal.

I gave myself fifteen more minutes to work on my computer before I would abandon all hope of a full recovery. In about ten minutes I was able to recover the document containing the full 8K. I continued with my story and I did achieve 10,758 words.

To avoid this problem in the future I am setting my computer to back up my documents more frequently. I am also considering using a flash drive (memory stick) to back up my novel. I think a good time to make a backup would be just before going on the scheduled breaks.

I laughed to myself later when I read my story. I had to admit that my recollection of the profound wording that I thought was on my document was much superior to the words I had actually typed.

Editor’s note: I was lucky enough to read an excerpt from John’s 10K Day writings and it was chock-full of adventure and fun!


RSVP for one or both of March’s 10K Days: Wed 3/28 or Sat 3/31


John Van Natta

Van Natta

My name is John VanNatta. Recently my working career came to a blunt stop. As I reflect back over those robust years I hope the best is yet to come. However, I am not as vigorous as before and my spirit had become a little sluggish. That is why I enrolled in the Fear of Writing Online Course and then the FoW Graduate Course and now Working with an Editor and Ace Your 10K Day. In my dreams and writing I can once again soar, at least in my mind.

Please leave a comment for my guest writer

6 Responses to 10K Day Tips: How to Avoid Time or Words Lost from Computer Disasters
  1. Lois
    March 20, 2012 | 8:00 AM

    Great article, John! I’m really glad you were able to recover all those words. 🙂

    I once lost about 30-40K of a novel I wrote during the 2006 Nanowrimo (my first). I did this by overwriting the original version with an incomplete version. That was my first clue that I needed to find a system for backing up my work!

    I’ve learned some other tricks, too: get a Box.net account to back up to, and e-mail your work to yourself. And I have an SD card that I save all my writing to, as well. Still need to get an external hard drive, but for now, these other tricks work great!


  2. Marilyn
    March 20, 2012 | 8:42 AM

    Gosh guys, you have opened my eyes. Think I’ll get a flash just for writing. Or my new handle, Milli gave me, Wrider. This is a writer who writes about horses and riding. Clever, ehhh?

  3. Manisha
    March 20, 2012 | 11:03 AM

    Back when I was writing my doctoral dissertation, I became so paranoid about losing my work. When it would “disappear” for a few hours, I would have a full-on panic attack. I would keep copies of it on discs at my parents house, my in-laws, my friends and even one in my freezer in case the house burned down. It’s a scary thing to lose so many words. I’m so very glad you were able to recover your 8K! There do seem to be many resources available these days to make sure nothing is lost for good.

  4. Stefanie
    March 22, 2012 | 4:58 AM

    Hi John! Great article! Thank you for the inspiration you have provided us here…I am sure most people need this too, especially the bloggers…

  5. Karen Ann
    April 5, 2012 | 7:59 PM


    Thank you for advising us of possible defeat techniques our wonderful electronic devices could have in store for us. I do not use a wireless mouse, so I am not at risk in that area.

    However, a wired mouse does not like a freshly brewed cup of Caramel – Vanilla tea nearly as much as do I. Through the process of attaining my Master Degree, I somehow dropped my mouse in my cup of tea. I now have my cup, either lidded or non-lidded, always above where my mouse lies.

    As far as backing up documents, yes, I have lost some documents and I try real hard to ensure I save documents at different intervals while writing. I think it will have to be a conscious effort while furiously attempting the 10K goal to remember to save, though. I can get caught up and forget many things while facing this challenging.

    Your message is a good reminder for me and I hope to keep everything you mentioned in mind for the future. I don’t have a nightly backup system on an external disc drive nor do I have a flash drive. Maybe I should invest in one or both before going on the 10K adventure.

    I am also pleased to know ahead of time that I will need scheduled breaks.

    I appreciate your humor and would like to read what you had to write during your successful 10K day.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. …………karen

  6. Meg Sweeney
    April 5, 2012 | 8:02 PM

    John. Wowza. You certainly went through the wringer to get to where you are now. As I am coming up behind you in this graduate course, I will take your experience to heart. It takes a lot out of me to write anything in fact, so to have the whole process complicated by technical problems is definitely something I need to avoid. I haven’t written anything so substantial that it would make me have a heart attack if it were missing yet, but now have your sage advice to lean on when I do! Thanks a million.

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