So, how do you handle keeping different revisions of a work in progress? Writers probably don’t have as many weird untraceable interaction bugs as programmers, but I’m sure you guys are just as prone to waking up, looking at that section you rewrote last night, and wondering what the heck was in that drink.

Well, since I changed over to Scrivener this isn’t really so much of a problem, as the program can be set to do automatic incremental backups every time you hit save – and these can be saved to Dropbox, which is how I manage it. (The excellent Fizzygins outlines here how to set this up for the Mac version of Scrivener.)

Scrivener can also be set to automatically back itself up when you finish a work session / close a project for the day. (While this isn’t mandatory, I always do this when finishing up, without fail – as failing to close a project in one device and opening it in another can cause confusion, or worse still, conflicted versions of the project file. (Yes, Scrivener does warn you when you open a file that hasn’t been properly closed elsewhere, but it leaves you the option to make a copy of the file and operate on that instead. My experience of this has been that it causes more confusion than it prevents, so I don’t do it.)

So when rereading your material the next day (or whenever) if you find that what you’ve written doesn’t work for you, you can always roll back to an earlier version. It takes a little searching sometimes to find the version you need, but just knowing that it’s there somewhere is very reassuring. 

(I usually also compile the last day’s save to ebook format and have Dropbox send it to my iPad, so I don’t have to wait to get downstairs to the big computer to go OMG-why-on-Earth-did-I-write-that? on rereading the material, but can do it first thing in the morning, in bed, just after checking the email. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. (But I find that rereading the material first thing after waking up is a good way to set up for the day’s work.)

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Tags: second-coolest person on tumblr, scrivener, jason hough.

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