Burning Stacks of Notes

5 years ago | Tintenteufel (Member)

I managed to loose all my posts. All somewhat around 60 of them. 160.000 words or something, kinda lost count of how many exactly there where. About 124.000 in December '16, between then and April I had 13 more updates each about 2500 words or something. So it should be around 160.000.

Now. That is no reason for me to despair. I will salvage the wreckage and take away what I can - valuable lessons in self-discipline, writing processes and such a fundamentally different outlook on writing. About three short novels in about 15 Months is no mean feat for me and I relish that as a major success. Before I came here the longest thing I had ever written was a short story of about 10 pages and I was kind of scared of major projects. I had no idea how to tackle them, how to plot, how to write, how to look for holes and nooks and crannies and everything else that toppled me along the way. Even though it didn't go perfect it was wonderful in more than one way and I have learned so much about myself and what I want to do.

And I still have the roughly 90 .docs safely on my USB-Stick where they rest in an somewhat earlier than published state.

But I do like to think of this as an opportunity. One which I'll seize. I haven't updated much in the past two months for various reasons - all of them excuses about life and stuff. Still, I have broken my stride and stopped to rewrite (or rather write in some depth for the first time) my setting, to actually plot more than a few pages ahead etc.
I think this loss is a good opportunity to start with a clean slate. But at the same time I'd hate to "loose" the dozen or so stories I've already written for the serial. They are...imperfect, in many ways. But I did get one or two compliments on them and two or so I like for a small thing I thought I did rather okay in them.

Now, my question to you, my friends and colleagues, in this my darkest writing hour is this:
Would you advise me to start from scratch with the same project? That is to throw everything I wrote those 15 months out of the window, out of the canon and to start again with the stuff I made the last few weeks? The overall project would stay the same, I'd just get rid of all the early hiccups...and all the hours spent writing.
Or should rather to rummage through the files in search of the old posts and conserve them for the sake of posteriority? It should be possible to find them somewhere or to upload them anew over the course of a few weeks or months.
Or should I salvage what I can from my own personal backup files and give them a complete do-over? That would entail looking at them with fresh eyes,critical eyes that wince at every other sentence, and to burn away all that is rotten in them.

Blut und Rost - German Webserial about the horror that is human interaction

Read responses...


  1. Shaeor (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I would say, always try to salvage and cherish your work done, but rewrites are never a terrible idea. I've considered rewriting portions of my novels, but I always consider beforehand that it feels like it would be a more laborious, less creative task than regular writing, and so I do something else. Something fresh. Just don't burn yourself out and keep up the good work! My cents.

    CHOSEN SHACKLES The screen is running static. Face your shadow.
    DIRGE The light is dying. Hold your breath and go gently.
  2. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    It does suck to lose old work that's already been posted and read by others, even when you've decided to end it. But sometimes a writer has to "kill their darlings" to improve on the final product.

    Consider this your opportunity to do the second draft of the story. Take a little bit of time to organize what you want to change, then start fixing things, reposting as you go. If this means rewriting a chapter from scratch, so be it. However, if you feel you have chapters that work well mostly as is, but just need a little editing, no reason to let that work go to waste, just edit them, and post them. That should be helpful to you in catching up.

    I suppose this depends on how much you want to change. If you feel your rewrite is basically going to be an entirely new story just with similar themes, it may behoove you to just start fresh with that, and maybe you can repost your old stories as a sort of "retrospective" archive.

  3. unice5656 (Moderator)

    Posted 5 years ago

    If you lost stuff that's been posted online, there's probably a way to find them through archived versions of the site. I've had my word processor crash and lost a chapter's worth of work, and that was super annoying, but I have to admit that when I wrote it again, it was better.

  4. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 5 years ago

    You might check what you can find at https://archive.org.

  5. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I'm a packrat, I never throw anything out until I have to, so in that context... I'd split the difference. Just finding and uploading all the old material (which I do hope you find, by the way) feels like a retread. But going from scratch on the same project feels like you might miss out on things you liked, because you forgot about them, or conversely you might make a mistake twice because you forgot it had happened that way the first time. Hence the do-over from your backup files.

    That is basically what I did with T&T, by the way. I pulled out the old files from 2001 and revised them, multiple times. Changing the order of events here and there. Adding in foreshadowing now that I had a clearer overall picture. At one point I completely overwrote a scene that had never worked for me (partly because I found I'd written it from the wrong character's perspective). And the last 4 parts? The story had organically morphed so much by that point that I threw them out completely after jotting down the key plot points, turning them into a new conclusion that was double the length.

    In the end, do what you think is right though, and if you think a clean slate will get the words flowing better, that's probably your answer.

    Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
    Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca
  6. Tintenteufel (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Thank you guys for your input, it has greatly helped me decide what to do. :)
    I'll go with the third option and re-edit them. Not rewrite, but re-edit. I think this is my chance to get quite a bit better with my writing and I'll take it.

    It seems like the most sensible option to have renewed look on my old stuff from a few months distance and throw out what doesn't really work.

    Blut und Rost - German Webserial about the horror that is human interaction


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