When Disaster Strikes- My Tiny Tragedy and What I Learned

So, it happened–a writer’s worst nightmare. Last night my computer got amnesia and decided to forget who it was and nearly everything about its life up to this point. All my files–gone. Well, it did somehow manage to keep all the files in my trash. How nice of it, right? Included in all the lost documents was the post I was planning for today, so here I am pecking furiously at the tiny keyboard on my kindle trying to scrape together something to post today (so please excuse any grammar or typo issues ). I don’t have the heart to try and duplicate what I had before quite yet–the loss is still too fresh–so you get this instead. Here are some things writers can do when the worst happens, instead of banging your head against the keyboard, throwing your computer across the room, and vowing never to write again. I say this is for writers, but most of these should work for everyone.

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1- Count your blessings. It could have been a lot worse. I’ve been somewhat paranoid about something like this happening, so I have backed up a majority of my work. The most recent stuff is lost, but I’m not starting over. My computer isn’t dead. I won’t have to get a new one. It was just my computer, and not one of my friends or family members. There are a few bright patches. Usually, eventually, it’s possible to find something to be grateful for.
2- Eat a gallon of ice cream, shed the equivalent in tears, scrape yourself up, and move on with life. This is for when it’s too bad to find the silver lining right away. And it probably isn’t a good idea to eat a full gallon of ice cream. A gallon of tears is probably a bit excessive a well, unless you drink a whole lotta water to replace what you are losing. Seriously though, letting yourself mourn can be healthy, as long as you pick up the pieces and keep going after.
3- Think of it as a fresh slate. There are few things I love better than a blank notebook. The empty pages whisper tantalizing hints of new possibilities and boundless potential. This gives you the possibility to start fresh. Maybe your rewrite won’t be as good as your lost draft, but maybe it will be better. Painful as it is, this is usually the case for me. When I am forced to rewrite from scratch, my new drafts tend to be more tightly written, and generally better. It prevents me from letting those emotional attachments get in the way of cleaning out the superfluous words and passages that just creep in and never want to leave. Use this to reevaluate and improve.
4- Yell, “Plot twist!” and see if you can surprise yourself with the amazing comeback you pull off. You force this type of thing on your characters all the time and expect them to snap back and seize the day. Is it fair not to try to do the same thing ourselves? Plot twists are what keep a book interesting. Life needs a few as well.
5- Use this experience to spark a new masterpiece. Maybe what you are feeling right now can be the backbone of a potent scene or a moving poem. If you aren’t a writer, maybe it will translate into a stunning sketch or painting. Maybe it will become a song. Maybe this rage can fuel the energy you need for the win in that sports tournament. I don’t know. Whatever it is, use it productively.
These things won’t really make whatever happened less painful, but they may help to get over it. My loss seems pretty insignificant compared to a lot of what others are experiencing. Tragedy is never fun on any level, but it happens. The important thing is that it doesn’t stop you from realizing the awesomeness that lies ahead for you. Yes, this stinks. No, you don’t have to be happy about it, but don’t let it stop you. You’ve got this.

2 Responses to “When Disaster Strikes- My Tiny Tragedy and What I Learned

  • ooh, huge bummer about the computer! But I love this list.

    1. I love ice-cream

    2. I LOVE new notebooks. Love them. That’s a fantastic way to think of it.

    3. The Plot Twist idea is great too. I keep thinking that if I continue to write brave characters, maybe it will rub off on me as well. Writing is sort of like practice living, huh?

    • Thanks! I’m glad you liked it. I feel the same way about my characters rubbing off on me as well. When I have to do so something that scares me, I usually pull up a vision of them in my head and tell myself that if they can do it, I can do it too. Somehow, it does seem to help.

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