Write down your stories

Jul 31, 2014 | Better Writing

The palest ink …

There is a Chinese proverb that says that “The palest ink is stronger than the strongest memory.” Take it to heart.

If you want to be able to recall the stories of your life, you have to do more than tell yourself to remember them. Unless you have a trained and exceptional memory, you need to write your stories down while they’re still fresh.

The act of writing helps your memory

To write about an incident or person in your life you have to concentrate on them. That very act of paying attention makes it more likely that you’ll remember details later.

Tell the story a few times

After you’ve written down your story (and created a backup copy), set about telling your story to a few people. You’ll burn in a memory trace, but there’s another benefit, too.

Telling the story will change it slightly. It always does. Usually, you’ll find something you never thought of coming out of your mouth. Most of the time it will make the story better.

Review and revise

Go back to your original story. Review and revise as appropriate. Now you’ve created something you’re more likely to remember with a written copy you can use to check details.