How To Build A Memory Palace That Improves Your Writing – Part 1

Relating to writing, a very good reminiscence is a boon. Chances are you’ll want to recollect previous occasions and character details for seamless storytelling, recall hard-won research, or retailer the whole historical past of a fictional world in your thoughts. Perhaps you’re making an attempt to effectively put apart ideas that you simply’ll need to use later, or maybe you’re just memorizing the objectives you need to achieve earlier than this draft is full. In these ways and extra, it’s to your advantage to reinforce your memory.

On this two-part article, we’ll be taking a look at tips on how to do exactly that, learning some primary but shockingly effective reminiscence methods that may aid you together with your writing and modifying. As the title guarantees, half 2 will finish with the memory palace – a device utilized by many pop-culture geniuses that’s truly utterly accessible to us mere mortals – however there’s lots extra useful stuff to cover partially 1 earlier than we get there.

Since lots of people assume they’re caught with no matter
sort of memory they already have, let’s begin with a trick that exhibits how
effective reminiscence methods could be.

Image linking

If nothing else, this first reminiscence system provides you with a neat get together trick. First, write out an inventory of twenty random nouns. Ideally, to get the complete profit, have someone else decide them. On this event, I’ll handle it for you:

1. Lizard
2. Tortilla
three. Automotive
4. Video
5. Eagle
6. Moon
7. Monster
8. Hat
9. Lace
10. Tower

11. Island
12. Hearth
13. Goat
14. Spoon
15. Clock
16. Utopia
17. Coin
18. Revolver
19. Bean
20. Towel

The first step right here is to set up some extent of comparison, so spend thirty seconds studying via this listing. Once your thirty seconds is up, look away from the listing and try to keep in mind as most of the phrases above as you possibly can (write them down, for those who’re in a position.) Attempt it now.

It’s unlikely you remembered nearly all of the phrases. If
you probably did, congratulations – you’ll need a fair longer record to see the benefits.
When you didn’t, let’s get to work.

This primary method is ‘image linking’ – creating a picture
which links two concepts and thus renders them extra vivid and simpler to name to
mind. Not solely does this give your brain something more concrete to grab onto,
it creates links between ideas so that you simply’re looking for your home in a
chain quite than making an attempt to seize random knowledge points.

For example, for ‘Fireplace’ and ‘Goat,’ you may think a goat stood in a hearth. You would then imagine the goat stepping on a spoon, after which that spoon spinning out to type the arms of a clock. In this method, you create a path of photographs that links the phrases together.

That’s what you might imagine, however you still wouldn’t be using this technique to its fullest. In his ebook Tips of the Mind, mentalist Derren Brown suggests some further guidelines for the pictures you create. The primary is that the picture ought to be vivid; you should take a moment to really see it in your mind’s eye. ‘If the picture is funny,’ Brown advises, ‘find it funny. If it’s disgusting, truly discover it repulsive.’ Brown’s subsequent rule is that the 2 parts of the picture have to work together.

It’s not enough, he says, to picture A stood next to B. As an alternative, if ‘A could be made of B; or if A could be forced into B,’ or if A might battle, make love to, or ‘dance with’ B, that’s when your picture will effectively link two concepts.

To date, our fireplace-goat just about passes muster, nevertheless it’s Brown’s ultimate rule meaning we need to rethink our selection:

The image ought to be uncommon. If you must link ‘man’ and ‘cup,’ for example, you could possibly vividly imagine these two interacting, but the picture could also be too regular, similar to ‘a man drinking from a cup.’ The picture will probably be extra memorable if the man is making an attempt to drink from an enormous cup, or is sucking the cup into his face, or if there’s a tiny man in a cup making an attempt to get out earlier than the tea will get poured in.

– Derren Brown, Tips of the Thoughts

All of a sudden, a goat stepping out of a fireside onto a spoon
isn’t fairly so efficient. As an alternative, let’s imagine that the embers within the
hearth rise and coagulate into the form of the goat. It steps ahead, opens
its mouth, and tens of ornate spoons tumble out, clamoring on the tile flooring.
That image could be disturbing, nevertheless it’s memorable, and that’s what we’re going

Now, let’s attempt our reminiscence check once more. The record is recreated precisely under, so read it by means of once, slowly, and imagine a collection of vivid, uncommon pictures to transition you from every concept to the subsequent. When you’ve completed that, look away from the listing once more and attempt to recite it from reminiscence.

1. Lizard
2. Tortilla
3. Automotive
4. Video
5. Eagle
6. Moon
7. Monster
eight. Hat
9. Lace
10. Tower

11. Island
12. Hearth
13. Goat
14. Spoon
15. Clock
16. Utopia
17. Coin
18. Revolver
19. Bean
20. Towel

In case you’ve taken the time to link the above record of photographs,
I’ll guess you made it by means of every item, and what’s more, I’ll guess you can too
do the whole listing backwards.

Like all talent, you possibly can improve on this system with apply
– using nouns simplifies issues, however once you’ve gotten higher at shortly
considering up a relevant picture, other varieties of words may be memorized simply as

Now, this system has restricted applicability, however it’s additionally
the inspiration of the more superior memory methods which might be arising. If
you’re not but snug with image linking, attempt it out a number of more occasions and
get a feel for what photographs you discover memorable and what you don’t.

Brown also recommends including markers at vital points, like at the fifth or tenth point in an inventory. Including an open hand (with its five fingers) to your chain of photographs may give you a simple reference level if, for some purpose, you later have to skip forward to a certain level in your listing. For those who’re memorizing presidents, for example, perhaps you need a simple approach to skip to the fortieth entry quite than starting from George Washington each time.

As an apart – and since digital security isn’t going to cease being essential anytime quickly – former NASA roboticist Randall Monroe’s webcomic ‘Password Strength’ suggests image linking as a approach of memorizing brief nonsense phrases as passwords (Monroe gives ‘correcthorsebatterystaple’ for instance.) These are straightforward for people to recollect and more durable for computer systems to guess than the standard ‘swapping E for 3’ or ‘RanDOm cApS’ password decisions. So, in case you get nothing else from this text, we simply made your passwords simpler and simpler to recollect.


The first method to step up your new reminiscence powers is to convey
numbers into the fold. Once more, this shall be mandatory as we improve our powers
of recollection, but there are additionally fast advantages. Specifically that, by
combining picture linking with numbers, you can also make info like dates or statistics
far simpler to recall.

Step one right here is especially satisfying – we need to
decide some constant pictures to characterize numbers in our picture linking. It’s
troublesome to ‘picture’ a number, so assigning a extra versatile picture signifies that
you’ve more choices for future image linking.

For instance, you may choose pictures that recreate the
primary form of a number, imagining a candle for ‘1’ or a duck for ‘2.’ In other
instances, you may select sound-alikes, similar to a glass of wine for ‘9’ or a
beehive for ‘5.’ There’s also the choice of choosing one thing from pop
culture that you simply find notably memorable – perhaps Snow White for ‘7’ or a
little pig for ‘3.’ No matter you discover vivid and compelling, make it work for

To begin with, choose the pictures you’ll be utilizing for
numbers 1–9. Now, you have got the right elements for picture linking complicated
information. Dates virtually set themselves up, with the four numbers presenting you
with a singular potted narrative. This will sound complicated, but if your photographs actually
do hyperlink, you’ll be stunned on the information you possibly can keep in mind.

Let’s say that I’m making an attempt to commit the yr of the moon
landing, 1969, to memory with the following photographs:

1 = A candle
9 = A glass of wine
6 = A snail

I’ll start with the picture of Neil Armstrong strolling on the moon – an image I’ll all the time go to when remembering this occasion – after which think about him stumbling throughout a huge, historic candle, eons of wax dripping down its sides (1.) With big moon-jumps, Armstrong leaps to the top of the candle and douses its flame with an aesthetic glass of Merlot (9.) For a second, smoke rises, after which the ground rumbles. Why? Because the candle was a part of an historic ritual meant to maintain the eldritch Moon Snail asleep (6.) Now, it rises from beneath the moon’s floor, hurling Armstrong to the ground and smashing his wine glass on the rocks. Considering shortly, Armstrong grabs the shattered stem of the wine glass (9) and plunges it into one of many snail’s vast eyes. The monster recedes beneath the surface, but it should return…

Now, sure, which will sound like lots of effort to put into remembering a date, but the thing is, I’ll never forget that date. This can be a large benefit in case you’re writing historical fiction, establishing a fictional world, or writing many varieties of non-fiction. There’s additionally the fact that I’m not going to need to recite that entire story every time I need to keep in mind ‘1969’ – I don’t just have a neater method of storing that info, I’ve reworked the kind of info I’m making an attempt to retrieve. ‘1969’ will now spring to thoughts immediately, maybe accompanied by a chuckle on the association with a monstrous snail. The story is there if I ever wrestle, however its true objective was to influence my brain to store ‘1969’ as a story fairly than a random number.

To get an concept of the scope of this type of image linking, particularly when it comes to enhancing your analysis talents, it’s a way that students have used to recollect lots of of dates when learning topics like regulation and psychology. In these topics, there are plenty of ‘cases’ made up of names, key info, and dates.

When you must look this type of info up, you’re detached from the artistic act that you want the knowledge to help. But when the knowledge’s at your fingertips, you don’t should mentally deviate, which means there are fewer events the place you must break the movement of writing (you’ll also be much more assured in your factual assertions.) What works for tutorial purposes is just as effective for artistic research; whether or not you’re writing an essay or a story, figuring out info is totally different to wanting it up as required.

Later, you may need to go greater and create unique visuals
as much as 100. That is simpler than it’d sound in case you use the models column as a
unique quality and the tens as a singular object. For instance, anything in the
20s could possibly be a duck and anything in the 30s a pig, with the models then implying
qualities: ‘28’ could possibly be an overweight duck, ‘29’ a drunk duck, ‘38’ an overweight pig,
‘39’ a drunk pig, and so on. You should use comparable methods for months and different
recurring ideas – if Neil Armstrong solely places out the enormous candle to
impress actress Julie Walters, we’ll also never forget that the moon landing
befell in July.

To be continued…

Memory methods take some time to harness, so let’s take
this chance to interrupt for a couple of days and follow what we’ve already
discovered. Subsequent time, we’ll cowl the ultimate form of these memory methods – the
memory palace – and discover ways to activate a form of large, long-term reminiscence
storage that’s virtually scary in its potential.

For now, guess a member of the family that you could keep in mind twenty
random nouns in a row. In the event you can recite pi to thirty digits once we return on
Wednesday, I’ll be impressed, but I gained’t be stunned.

In the meantime, take a look at Psychology
101: Information That Will Improve Your Writing and Study How To
Research Your Guide With This Newbie’s Information for more recommendation on this