This morning I spent a half-hour searching the house for a scrap of paper. I had plenty more like it—discarded sheets from a page-a-day calendar. What made this paper valuable was what I'd scribbled on the back.
Most Saturday nights I scratch my head about what topic I'll address in my next blog. Then it happens. An idea springs to mind. I grab a sheet from my stack of Dilbert calendar pages and jot that idea—and the supporting elements that follow the inspiration.
With the ideas captured, I can go to sleep, secure in the knowledge I have a point of entry to a topic. I know from experience that over the next two days, more elements will fall into place and I'll be ready to sit at the keyboard Monday morning.
But everything hinges on that 4½ x 5½ scrap of paper. This morning it went missing. I looked everywhere—twice. Nothing.
I remembered the basics of what I wanted to write. But some key observations had vanished. Should I still pursue the topic—knowing it would never be quite what I had envisioned? Or, because I wasn't writing to an assigned topic, should I simply shift gears?
This morning I got a third option. I found the paper—in plain sight on my desk. But the incident gave me a new topic: what do you do when a key piece of work disappears?
I know all about backing up computer files. But a colleague recently had his computer crash—and multiple conversations with tech experts revealed the online backup system hadn't been set up correctly. This past weekend my 8GB flash drive failed; all the backup files on it disappeared. I've enjoyed times of amazing writing productivity—followed by some glitch that trashed the last five, ten, or fifteen minutes of inspiration.
No matter how good you think your backup systems, eventually some treasure will vanish from beneath your fingertips. When that happens, how do you move forward?