Why losing your copy after your PC crashes is no bad thing

Head in handsYour jaw drops, eyes widen and you stare at the blank computer screen in disbelief. You bury your face in your hands.

The PC has crashed and the article you just spent all day writing has gone. It’s disappeared for good. And no amount of bashing the keyboard will resuscitate it back to life.

Unfortunately, this is guaranteed to happen at some point in your working life in communications, and if you’re really unlucky, you will also be up against a tight deadline when it occurs.

It sounds like a communications horror story but in this blog post I want to tell you that, after having had this happen to me several times over, it can actually be a blessing in disguise.

The first time it happened, I was in a newsroom and battling against the clock. The sub editor came chasing me for copy, and I had to explain what had happened – I’d lost the whole news article.

“Stories are always better written second time around,” he said. He still expected me to meet his deadline, naturally, but on this first point he was correct.

When rewriting an article from scratch I’ve always found that it beats my original version. It’s like the brain unconsciously self-edits. It knows which bits of the article to leave out and which to include.

Rewriting helps you get to the point. You lose redundant words and difficult phrases, using only what’s necessary. Words become shorter and sentences become more punchy.

You also write more quickly because you now know exactly what you want to say. It’s just a case of getting it typed up and filed. Of course, you still have your looming deadline.

But even if you have any doubts, you’ll be less circumspect and more focused in your decision making, partly because of the time pressure but also because you’ve already performed a dress rehearsal, so-to-speak.

The great thing about knowing the positive benefits that come from losing all your work (that still sounds strange even as you say it to yourself, doesn’t it?) is that you feel a lot better about the whole situation.

Because you feel better, you relax, and because you’re (more) relaxed you’re able to produce better work – a wonderful symbiotic relationship.

Of course, that deadline still hasn’t gone away and you still have to do that typing all over again. And yes, you still have someone screaming at you, asking where that copy is.

But now you know you have everything under control, and it’s all going to work out just fine. As long as you can get that dodgy PC working again…

Photo: by Alex Proimos

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