I have a bad memory.
It’s quite frustrating to be a writer and to forget things all the time. I’m not talking little things like what a character’s eye colour. I’m talking about BIG things like forgetting the plot, changing character dynamics because you can’t remember who is friends or enemies, or even tying up plot holes TWICE because you forgot it the first time.
Do you feel my pain?! DO YOU?
I have an epic fantasy I’ve been working on for 5 years. It’s basically my baby. But each time I edit it, I change things massively…which means, five years down the track, I can’t remember what I’ve kept and what I’ve changed. You’d think it’d be engrained in my skull right?
It’s been about 6 months since I worked on this book and, guess what? I DO NOT REMEMBER IT AGAIN.
So! To combat my awful memory and, hopefully, save time when I go for another bout of edits, I decided to make myself remember with a visual representation.
Pfft, forget this fancy phrases like “visual representation”. Basically I drew all over my wall.
The photo is rather awful because I made this delicate spider web behind my bedroom door. The light is awful behind my door. I have sheets of editing notes, sheets of plots, sheets of backstory. I have sticky notes to answer questions. I COLOUR-CODED.
I am organised.
So did it work?! Do I remember my story?
In fact, once I was joking around with my sister and she quoted what I thought was a movie line. I couldn’t remember the movie, so I asked.
Mime: “Um, Cait. That line was from your book.”
Oh, yeah. Ha. Fancy that.
I also have (colour-coded, of course) sections for book ideas.
Hopefully someday I’ll be able to combine these messy notions, and not be faced with writing 38 stories. Because, let’s face it! I have not got my grubby paws on the fountain of youth yet. It’s a progress, my friends. The minions are working on it.
(For curiosity sakes, orange is urban fantasy/paranormal. There are a LOT more orange. Pink is contemporary. There is 1 pink.)
All of this is a desperate attempt to help me JUST REMEMBER THINGS.
In the last 5 years: I have written 14 novels, I have read upwards of 400 books, studied courses, memorised lists, listened to conversations, researched a million topics on the internet, crammed my brain with movie plots, and run a small business based on remember what people like and what they don’t.
My brain is very full.
Imagine being a published author who has done a million times more than me?
Imagine having several books published, hosting several internet sensational youtube channels, heading up charities and fundraisers, and being a movie producer and having a family?
(I know, I know, it’s old news. But I forgot [har har] to blog about it.)
You’ve probably seen the vlog where internationally bestselling YA author, John Green, “stole” a quote from a 13-year-old tumblr user. He explained how it happened (a logical mistake) and he admitted to not remembering he wrote the quote, but just accepting he did because he has a record for misremembering.
For goodness sakes he couldn’t remember the plot of TFIOS.
The internet basically shot John Green down in flames claiming he didn’t apologise well enough (despite the girl he accidentally stole from being okay with the apology) and another article claimed the plagiarism was an act of sexism against young female fans (what even?!) and scores and scores of people saying:
“IT’S RIDICULOUS THAT JOHN GREEN FORGOT HIS OWN BOOK.”
Trust me, it’s neither ridiculous or unrealistic. It already happens to me and I haven’t even done much with my life yet! Some people have bad memories. Sometimes it’s in our personalities! (I’ve read that INTJ’s [which is me] have series problems with memory.)
But WAIT! This post isn’t about John Green.
It’s actually about being a writer with a bad memory and is there a way to fix this?
(The post is actually also totally about me. Come on! This is my blog! I have a thousand posts here about me and still more to say. I must be fabulous.)
I don’t have a cure, and I’m wondering if you have advice. Which is why this post is VERY open for discussion. But before I turn it over to you, here are a few things I do to help remember my own books.
THINGS I DO TO HELP ME REMEMBER WHAT I WROTE:
- I, like you saw, plot a book on my wall to help make it more concrete in my mind.
- I write synopsises and blurbs and detailed outlines. Maybe not before I write a book, but definitely AFTER.
- I never ever ever trust my memory with an idea. My iPod is always on hand to jot down a sentence or phrase of an idea. (The “genius” ones I write down at midnight are, in fact, rubbish in the morning.)
- I talk my ideas over with someone! Usually this is my small sister who will doze while I’m blabbing because, let’s face it, germs of ideas aren’t very intelligent. (I basically just need to talk out loud.)
- I make pinterest boards. Maybe this looks like I’m just procrastinating or having fun, but in actuality, it’s helpful. It makes me remember how I visualised the book.
- When I actually sit down to write, I do it FAST and FURIOUS. I will type a book in a week. This is a desperate attempt to not forget what I’m saying .
- When I edit, I use Word and leave myself “comments” and “note” along the document so I can easily flick back to that important detail.
- My walls are covered in sticky-notes, yes, but also my Mac screen is, too. (The sticky-note app has revolutionised my LIFE.)
It’s possible to be a writer with a bad memory.
It’s possible to be a good writer a bad memory. So is it really all that fair of us to judge published authors for their mistakes? Is it fair for non-writers to call judgment on authors? IS IT?
basically: I NEED YOUR THOUGHTS??! as a writer, do you struggle to remember your own work? if you’re a reader, do you remember EVERYTHING you read? do you have tips for writers with bad-memories? what’s your opinion on the John Green fiasco? (remember, ALL opinions are welcome here.) do you have an embarrassing “bad memory” stories of your own?! TALK TO ME, MY BLOGGLINGS.
Cait @ Paper Fury
…is currently…forgetting all the things.