Blog Post

Murphy’s Law & The Writer

Murphy tends to make a regular appearance in my life in general and especially with my writing. In this post, I will share some of my recent frustrating experiences with the phenomenon as well as offer some thoughts on what you might do to minimize the impact when good old Murphy pays you an unexpected visit.

Murphy’s Law

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

Like an unwanted guest, Murphy always seems to show up at the most inopportune of times. As if that weren’t bad enough, his stepsister (“When it rains, it pours!”) usually shows up in his wake. Like a comedy of errors, the house of cards begins to fall one metaphorical card after the other. We have all been there and it is not a fun experience.

Last evening, while working on new posts for this blog, my laptop crashed. At the time, I had been interviewing a local businessman here in Vietnam on the impact COVID-19 has had on his once-thriving business. We had actually completed the informative interview when my screen went black and began to flicker.

Had I backed up the interview on a flash drive or recorded it with my phone, that wouldn’t have been a big issue. Alas, I had not done either.

As fate (or Murphy) would have it, when I was finally able to get my laptop to reboot, the file was completely corrupted; I had lost the entire interview. This wasn’t a once-off issue; it happens all the time.

Although I’ve learned enough of a lesson to make backup copies of my work, I don’t do it after each paragraph. Typically, I backup my data once every couple of days. Still, I can’t even begin to imagine how much data I have lost over the years from computer crashes. On that note, I want to send a quick shout-out to Microsoft and Intel for all the frustration they have caused me over the years. Much appreciated!

Thanks to Murphy’s stepsister, my laptop was unusable for the remainder of the evening, costing me hours of work. This morning, while trying to work on my rooftop, I ran into the same issues. Thankfully, things seemed to resolve themselves a couple of hours later.

Murphy is a very bad man who doesn’t accept rejection.

During my first year in Vietnam, I spent most of my time writing a new book. I would take my laptop to the rooftop of my home or out to a local café where I would type away for hours on end. One day, as my new novel was nearing completion, I was working on it at a local coffee shop near my home. Sitting at a table in front of the café, I was so caught up in my work that I didn’t notice the motorbike as it drove up onto the curb. Seconds later, the man sitting on the back of the bike grabbed the top of my screen with his left hand before the driver tore off down the street with my laptop in tow.

The laptop was replaceable, but my work wasn’t. I lost everything! In that case, I had failed to create any backup copies of my draft novel. As it was my own fault, I couldn’t get too angry with the thieves; they were just trying to take advantage of a rare opportunity to make a few bucks in order to feed their families.

Murphy’s visits have become so frequent in my life that I almost consider him a part of the family – the type of relative who you hate to see pull up during the holidays but aren’t surprised by their unexpected arrival. In large part, Murphy reminds me of Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. His only saving grace is that every time he departs, he leaves us with a valuable lesson learned.

Here are some suggestions on how you might minimize the impact of Murphy’s unwanted visits as authors:

1. Backup, backup, backup!

Don’t trust one backup device. Thanks to Murphy’s stepsister, it will either disappear or be broken when you need it. Back your work up to at least three separate devices and send a couple of copies off to your trusted family or friends.

2. Save constantly!

Pressing Ctrl-S is a simple task; I do it after every paragraph. Why is this important if your computer crashes? Because, once you get it running again, you may be able to recover the majority of your work.

3. Have a backup computer available if possible.

If your laptop goes down, you can always continue your work on your desktop computer. If you can’t afford multiple computers, then make sure that your backups are current.

4. Use cloud storage.

I can’t believe I am recommending this option as I never use it myself, but it can be a smart move. If you keep your data in the clouds, then it will always be available once your computer is repaired or you have purchased a new one.

5. Take Murphy’s visits with a grain of salt.

When Murphy does pay a visit, even if his stepsister shows up right after, don’t let it get you down. What you have done in the past, you can do again. Fretting about the inconvenience does little to help.

Thanks so much for reading! If you enjoy my posts, please like, comment and share. Don’t forget to subscribe with your email below to receive post alerts and my monthly newsletter. See you soon…


  • Davyne DeSye

    OMG, so you’ve had one of those weeks, too? One week ago today, my hard drive crashed in the early morning. Thankfully, due to *two* motherboard failures (in October, and then again in November), I put all my data on the cloud, so didn’t lose anything (other than my programs – recoverable). Later that same day, at 11 am, I was hit by a drunk driver and my car was totaled… by someone with no insurance, of course. (Other than whiplash, which is improving, I’m doing fine.) I’m quite pleased to be able to say, I’ve done all five of your suggestions! From me to you: I hope you have a better week!

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