Disaster Preparedness for Writers

Are you ready for a disaster?  You might want to check this off sooner rather than later…

My friend, Kim, wrote this very helpful post about her recent preparations for Hurricane Iselle and Tropical Storm Julio.  As a volunteer disaster preparedness instructor and disaster responder, I know that one of the best times to prepare for the next one is in the wake of the averted one.  So how can writers be prepared?

1. Make Routine Back-Ups of Your Writing – On the very first page of The War of Art, Steven Pressfield backs up his writing daily,

I wrap for the day. Copy whatever I’ve done to disk and stash the disk in the glove compartment of my truck in case there’s a fire and I have to run for it.  I power down.

He means business.  Also, a disaster might not be a flood or an earthquake, it might be a dropped laptop or the unexpected death of a hard drive.  Take care of your work by backing up your writing regularly.

2. Make an Evacuation Plan for Your Household – If you are away home when the government issues an evacuation, does your spouse, partner, or roommate know what to collect on your behalf?  Let them know which books, notebooks, or file folders are important.  (“Anything on my desk is important, don’t worry about the rest.”) Better yet, have a go bag ready.

3. Add Writing Supplies to Your Go Bag – You might have a lot of time after a disaster.  As part of your household, office, and car disaster kits, consider adding extras of these items specifically for you.  Store them in double Ziploc bags.

4. Fill Your iPod – Its long battery life makes your iPod a powerful piece of disaster preparedness equipment.  Make playlists that will soothe, inspire, or motivate you.  Create an album of your favorite photos.  Use it as a back up to your phone for calendar and contact information.  And, yes, it stores text files.

5. Start Today by Doing One Thing – Disaster preparedness, like writing, seems daunting and never ending.  Don’t worry about that, just commit to it, do what makes sense, and take it one step at a time.


  1. FYI: In writing my blog post–that you so nicely referenced above–I dishearteningly learned that AlphaSmart is no longer making the NEO. So, I quickly searched on E-Bay and found a used one for a song. It is now my back-up.

    While I had days to gather my things–which are typically strung out all over the house and garage and island where I live–in advance of Hurricane Iselle, I would think it’s even more important for those like you living in earthquake-prone areas to have your bag/kit/box/trunk ready at all times. And like you point out, what if I weren’t home? What if I were on the mainland or galavanting around the world? Point taken. #doonethingtoday

    1. Kim, I checked out the Alpha Smart NEO on eBay…wow, they are a great price! 😀

      I recommend to my students that they have at least 72 hours of supplies at the ready in their homes. And, they should also have supplies in their car and office to the extent that it makes sense. A good test of an evacuation plan is if it can be executed in your absence.

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