Sometimes things are just going too well. A few days ago my work was in full flow, Scrivener now an integrated part of my writing life and the proud bearer of my WIP.  

So, there I was happily working away one morning. I took a lunchtime break and since the sun had decided to take a peek at our part of the world I popped out for a walk with a friend. Once home I had a couple of hours before end of school so I happily returned to the computer. I was in such good spirits I might even have been humming a little tune.

With the screen up I double clicked on Scrivener and waited. And waited and waited. Nothing! Just a spinning of the rainbow coloured wheel. 

I didn’t panic  – as yet. Sometimes programmes won’t load the first time and I force quit and tried again. And again and again.

By now I was grinding my teeth and I felt the pressure increase with the onset of a stress headache.

Why is it we will not accept the inevitable?  After two hours of all different attempts I gave up. I was thoroughly dispirited by now. My cheerful songs of before replaced by a melancholic resignation. If I had to look at that ‘scrivener not responding’ comment once more I fear I might scream…or worse. I restrained myself and left my computer for a while.

Calmer, determined I returned and started the Google step – there is always Google involved, don’t you find? I hadn’t realised how vitriolic some people became on the process. There were some quite nasty (and at times personal) attacks as one person blamed computers, others the programme. Deflated I left the sites and went back to the manufacturer and easily found the email address to the tech team.

I  sent them quick note of my problem and operating system and I sat back pleased. Help would soon be on the way!

In my dreams!  An automatic reply said they were experiencing an unprecedented high number of problems and would reply in two days!! 

I closed everything down and turned off the computer.

The next day I of course couldn’t stop myself attempting to open the programme. Again and again. No luck.  

Over 80,000+ words of my WIP now seemed lost. As well as all my other projects and collections of work. To say I was by now feeling low would be an understatement.

At certain stages I had saved my whole draft in pages (Apple word processing programme) and even emailed an extra one to a friend for safe keeping. However all my latest changes were not included not.  More importantly all my ideas on cork board and side-notes on each chapter, plus notes and ideas for book two were inaccessible. 

Furthermore Scrivener had been so perfect for my working method, so automatic and exceptionally useful I couldn’t imagine starting over with a new programme.

By the afternoon my mood had dipped lower than ever. I do what I always do in such circumstances. Placing my documents in a large pile I started to clean. Always therapeutic. The house got cleaner, my mind became more cluttered and stressed.

Then late last night amongst the mass of emails was one unknown entity. I almost trashed it as spam until I spotted  a kind apology for my long wait and then a positive and calm ‘let’s get started’ sentence.

Still miffed I could not help but be reassured by the friendly professional tone of the email, the promise to get this sorted.

Three clear steps were listed for me to attempt first of all. Despite the late hour I just had to try and my Mac sang out as usual upon start. The steps included the magic of finding a ‘package software’ for my file and within that deleting two files. 

Surely it couldn’t be that simple?

The next step said to try to open my project. With little expectation I double clicked. Waited. Yeah!!!! It started to load, then said it was ‘retrieving’ data…at last the project was up – but the pages were blank, my long side bar of chapters empty, nothing down the left column!!

This was even worse, now there was nothing left to rescue. I plunged into darkness but then recalled the strong self-assured email. I could not imagine they would let this happen. With a few more clicks on the side bar, my long list of chapters and the full WIP loaded fully.  

I held my breath. Everything seemed in order. Up to date with all my latest amendments and additions.

Not quite believing it would work, I closed Scrivener and then opened my folder again. A satisfying brr from my computer and up it popped on the screen. Perfect.

With shutdown complete I headed to my family to deliver the good news, dancing downstairs en route and entering the living room with a slight leap of joy.

It has been an emotional two days. I’m relieved everything works now but still bemused what actually happened. I’ve asked scrivener to explain what could have gone wrong and if this could happen again. In the meantime I have finally found out how to set automatic back up from Scrivener although I doubt this would have helped anyway since that whole file was corrupted.

My ease and enjoyment of using the system will in the end override any long term concerns I have and I will continue now to work away on my first draft with renewed confidence.

49 thoughts on “TWO DAYS OF PANIC

    1. They were very stressful days indeed!! I thought I was handling it all quite well when I was told (after everything was sorted) by my family and friends that I had been rather stressed-out. Definitely back-up, often, that’s my motto now and I’ve been doing that ever since. I received lots of great advice from others here on the comments and have followed quite a few of the ideas. Do take a look. It’s was a horrid feeling and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel worry.

    1. Anne, I try all middlemen I can think of but it still doesn’t help much. :-)) Phew, all the words were there! Thanks for your fun comment and hope you don’t have too many panic moments. 😀

  1. Phew, so glad you got all your work back Annika, that’s a massive relief. I felt your panic as I read every word…hoping beyond hope all would be well. I’ve not used Scrivener, but I hear from many that it’s great. I had awful laptop problems earlier in the year (I blogged about it and the endless frustrations) and now have the most up to date Word. I work in that with my own not so good system, but it’s what I’m used to, making sure to keep separate, revised copies and backing everything, I mean everyting, onto Dropbox. I’m just so loathe to change it all over to a new programme and have to learn something else new yet again…so hopefully I can keep going as I am. But I am so very glad you got everything sorted. I hate that feeling at the time though…deep breath and I wish you the very best as you carry on with your writing in peace and the knowledge that all your work is safe and secure once again 🙂

    1. Ah, thank you Sherri, I feel your warmth and worry in your comment. Oh yes, I was truly panicked, that cold quiet kind. You are one of many to mention Dropbox so I will soon look into this. Thankfully it has been working fine since, although I must admit I hold my breath every time I open it, just waiting for the spinning wall of death! I haven’t read about your laptop problems as I didn’t know you then, but will see if I find the posts now. I can fully empathise. Wishing many frustration free writing days. 😀

      1. I’m so glad things have settled down for you Annika, that ‘spinning wall of death’ moment is just awful…I had that happen when I tried to submit a short memoir piece to FISH in January. I still feel sick thinking about what could have happened.. I’ve included here a couple of links about my laptop issues earlier in the year, which I think mention that little episode if you would like to take a quick look (hopefully they’re not long posts, as I tend to clump things together!). Anyway, you’ll see why I commiserate!! Frustration free writing days indeed…what a wonderful thing that is!
        and then a brief follow up here:
        Hope you have a very good day with no spinning whatsoever 🙂

  2. My laptop crashed recently and had to be brought in for reformatting and a complete scrub. Luckily I had my docs backed up in a cloud so thank god no losses there. I can appreciate the panic you must have felt!

    1. Just your first words sent shivers down my back, you must have been horrified as your laptop crashed! Brilliant that you had a back up but even so I imagine there was a hint of panic which was only allayed when everything was working normally. I love the idea of your laptop having a scrub – I’m imagining it in one of those outdoor bathtubs, filled with steaming water and bubbles!

      1. Ha ha yes it needed it as everything went wonky including the antivirus program. I even saved all my photos but they were restored intact by the tech guy. Thinking about it now it was a wonder I didn’t panic more. Cost me $125 though.

  3. What a nightmare! I have my Scrivener automatically back up to Dropbox whenever I close it. I had a similar experience as you once with my Scrivener program, and I felt utterly sick to my stomach. Luckily I got it back. Now it goes to Dropbox so I don’t face that again. Glad you got yours back too!

    1. Carrie, I fel slightly reassured that someone else has had this problem with Scriveneras I was starting to think it was maybe just me. It’s a great feeling when it all reapears in tact isn’t it? So glad for you too. Good to know that someone else out there is using the programme and happy enough with it. Did your problem recur? So many have kindly commented on Dropbox and this will be my next port of investigation.

      1. No it hasn’t recurred, but for some reason I’m not able to update to the latest version. But I’ll deal with that once my current WIP is done. Don’t want to mess anything up!

  4. That is a writer’s nightmare, Annika. I can’t imagine what I would have done. MS Word routinely crashes on me and rarely (but predictably) corrupts the file, but I save a fresh file daily so I never lose more than a day. I hate even losing an hour. I can often open even a corrupt file in Open Office, save it in a simpler format, and re-open in Word. This — of course–is because .docx and .doc are common extensions. I’m sure the Scrivener extension isn’t quite so universal.

    I am so happy it worked out!

    1. It did feel unreal and rather nightmarish Jacqui. Even though I kept telling myself that it wasn’t so bad, I felt gutted and also rather silly for not having backed up properly. The thought of doing all the rewrite, much of which wasn’t on hardcopy filled me with despair. I’m powering away again now though, saving every few minutes and at the end of the day putting on pages document and emailing it to myself. Belt and braces! I’m a happy bunny! 😀

  5. Anonymous

    How scary is that. It’s bad enough losing a document you have spent a couple of hours on, let alone all your work just disappearing. It must have been a very stressful two days. Glad all is OK now – bet you are now backing up like crazy.


    1. Although I had the basic draft saved elsewhere it was the thought of losing all the changes, plans, other projects that really filled me with dread. A positive result at the end – phew! Thank you for you comment. 😀

  6. So glad you could recover your work! I tried Scrivener, but found that I was more organized that it could ever help me be. 😉 I have my documents on Dropbox; I can access it from any computer. Sometimes (especially toward a critical point in the writing process) I’ll copy a backup to my laptop; but I’ve never had a problem with Dropbox, and the backup has never been needed.

    1. Yes, I was really happy too as you read and I’m still on a bit of a high! It’s only recently that I have heard of Dropbox and have been cautious whether to use it or not. I can definitely understand how it would be useful working online using different computers. At the moment I’m sticking with scrivener but I am looking around for options so thank you for letting me know. Lovely to read your comment. 😀

      1. It might be more efficient to save an occasional copy to Dropbox than to send yourself an email; the Dropbox puts a “file” on your computer, but its actual size is minimal, so the MBs won’t add up or clog your inbox… Security-wise, Dropbox uses the same encryption system as banks, so it’s quite secure.

          1. I’d encourage you to try it; it’s free with great space. I’ve had it for several years, and just upgraded to Pro because of the 1 TB storage (otherwise I think it was 40 GB). The “file recovery” is referring to files that you’ve changed and decide to restore to an earlier version; on the free and pro that earlier version is available for 30 days before they forget it. Much easier than trying to find one on my computer. 🙂

    1. Jo, I was definitely that sad face for a couple of day! Yep, technology sometimes has be going a bit crazy and of course our free sat box started acting up the next day but that’s also sorted with a phone call – quite nice to talk to human being voice for help.. There again, I like my computer and TV at times…

  7. Hi, Annika. When working on a large writing project (i.e. book), I copy the entire work daily, paste it into a separate WordDoc and email it to myself. It helps relieve stress when technology goes bonkers. Happy writing! 🙂

    1. Hi Bette, that’s a good idea! I have saved it separately after a larger amount of work and emailed that to a friend, but I like this idea of saving and emailing on a daily basis, as well as saving all the cork board ideas and other book ideas and projects. Now I can get back to Happy Writing. Same to you Bette. Warm wishes😀

    1. Diana, I must admit I was beginning to feel like a stereotypical writer – nearly losing the draft!! Not a fun feeling but I’m wiser (a bit I hope!) and yes, backing up everything that’s on there onto other programmes such as pages. As for the leap of joy, I did ballet for a while at uni and still fancy that I can do the arabesque jump (I can’t!!)

    1. Oh no, Andrew, that is even worse. I’m glad you’ve got it back but it is emotionally exhausting and so time-consuming. Yes, there is always the worry it might happen again. Do you have an external hard drive for back up? I do but for other reasons it was actually turned off! This afternoon our freesat box stopped working – arghh…what’s next I wonder – as they say things come in threes?

        1. I’ll look forward to reading it. I had read somewhere that the time machine doesn’t actually back everything up. Do you know anything about that? I got it as it was the one recommended for the mac.

          1. Time Machine does a good, but not great, job of backup. It does snapshot everything, but depending on how you set it up, it can miss things and isn’t always 100% up to date. Also if the hardware you’re backup up to isn’t reliable, you can still end up losing everything. Since my writing files are so important to me, I am ramping my backup system to be more reliable and redundant. If I lose my MAC or my house burns down I still want to be able to recover my files.

  8. You had me worried there, Annika. Of course, your experience has made me even more hesitant to write using Scrivener. I’ve had the program for sometime, but I haven’t had a chance to learn the program.

    1. Jill, my dilemma now is that I am so used to the programme and have so much on there it would take a lot of time and effort to change. However, later today I did receive an email back saying that this problem is likely to recur! My renewed confidence is now a bit dented and I’m not surprised if you are even more cautious about starting to use it.

  9. Mirja

    And there you are humming a little tune when the dreaded ‘rainbow’ wheel strikes.
    Poor you. I so well understand how it must have felt thinking you lost such big body of
    Bless the support team and you made me smile with that little leap of joy.
    My Mac does automatically do back up……can yours not do that?

    1. I know, Mirja, why do they have to make that wheel such pretty colours, by the end I resent it and its bright colours so. If the colours are supposed to make me happy, they fail on a grand scale. I’m glad I got the help, earlier would have been nicer but it worked great however I do worry when I’m told this problem will probably happen again. Hmm…Oh yes, I do have the ‘Time Machine’ back up on my computer but for other reasons I had turned it off a month ago for a short while but forgot to put it on again. Silly me. However I don’t know if it would have helped as the file was corrupted. Blimey, I wish I understood more about all of this. Thank you for your warm caring message.

    1. Thanks Marion, I could just imagine your face when you read this and the relief at the end. I really was overjoyed and my son and husband were clapping for me when I told them the news! Actually it was probably relief that all my moaning and sad faced days were over.😀

  10. I back up like crazy, even print each new chapter. I don’t use Scrivener although I’ve thought of it. I’m used to my system so have resisted Scrivener just for the learning curve. I’m a computer lover but my print copy gives me the final piece of mind. I also think different files for character arcs, research bits and chapter synopses make it less likely I’ll lose it all. Hadley lost Hemingway’s ms, if I remember correctly. Wouldn’t that be a deal breaker?
    Glad you got it back, Annika!

    1. Thanks, Elaine, I’m also glad it’s all back. I had the hard copy, the last part with lots of changes and notes I had put in. It was the thought of learning a new system and putting in all the changes again as well as losing all my ideas and other projects that left me feeling gutted. I like your way of working with lots of different files – hmm – I might consider this if I continue having problems. Thanks for the idea.

  11. Peter R

    Well done in keeping your cool, Annika. With my temper I think I would have thrown the computer out the window, and lost the lot. I guess the “corkboard” is difficult to backup, but for the rest, those three little words apply: “backup, backup, backup”. Perhaps the fact that it was retrievable is a good omen for the future of your project?

    1. Oh , I wasn’t cool at all, Peter. Rather very frustrated, annoyed, upset. Not angry though and I would never damage the computer! I always nicely to it, the poor thing is trying so hard! Also my head hurt too much just attempting to sort all this. I have now found a way of manually copying and pasting the cork board separately on another program. A pain to do but something that I have now done.

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