Back to Back Issues Page
Memory hacks for writers: Editor's Notes #347
September 01, 2021

A good memory is one trained to forget the trivial.
—Clifton Fadiman

In this issue:

1. Memory hacks for writers
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1.Memory hacks for writers
This is not your typical list of aids to memory. There is a plethora of Web pages to help you memorize lists and recall numbers or addresses.

Writers are more likely to have lapses of memory that interrupt their work flow, and this is about memory hacks for writers in those situations. Under four headings, drum roll….

Have a place for everything and put everything where it belongs. If you find yourself eternally looking for keys, manuscripts, your phone, assign a place for those things and spend some mental energy training yourself to keep those things in their place unless they are in use. It is much faster to put items away properly than it is to spend stressful minutes searching for them. Those searches waste the time of the search, but the stress of the search carries over into work time.

If you really can’t take the time to put things in their proper place, put a basket in an easily accessed spot, and when you change activities, put anything you have in your hands into the basket instead of dropping things where you are. At least you will have only one place to hunt for missing items.

If I change the assigned place of items I don’t use every day, I leave myself a note in the old spot telling me where the new spot is. When I find myself automatically going to the new spot first, I throw away the note.

Record a deadline in a permanent place (daybook, phone, bulletin board, calendar) as soon as you are aware of the deadline. Same for appointments. For some items, I also record warnings that the deadline is approaching. For example, I have alerts for sending out Editor’s Notes. I also have alerts a few days ahead so I have time to make changes without being under needless pressure.

Schedule review times to check what’s coming. Weekly and monthly times work best for me.

If you need to switch activities at a certain time, set a timer before you start to work to keep your work brain focused on what you are doing and not on remembering when to stop.

Most of us have stood in front a refrigerator door or walked into a room and wondered, Why am I here? In the immediate past, we thought something was important enough to change locations, so we spend some time trying to recall what that something is. This hack works because of doors. Evidently, going through a doorway switches something in our brains. The good news is that going back through the doorway most often restores the memory. After I learned this hack, I began using it intentionally, and I can report a personal success rate of more than 80%. This quick fix has saved me valuable time and kept my work flow on track.

In general, cut down on demands on your brain power. When you notice something sapping that brain power, invest some time in looking for ways to resolve issues or reframe them so they are not overwhelming.

Finally, let it go. The stress of trying to remember something often causes forgetfulness. Putting the loss of memory out of your mind and switching gears frees your subconscious mind to go to work.

We all have lapses of memory. With a little work on the front end, we can have fewer lapses and more ways to retrieve specific memories.

2.Tickled my funny bone
My memory is great. I can’t remember the last time I forgot something

3. Interesting Web site
The Mayo clinic lists other things we can do to make memory loss less likely. It’s generic advice we hear often and often overlook.

4. Writing prompt
Write a short piece showing the result of a lapse of memory.

I’d love to see your result.

Join Writer's Helper Facebook page at
Follow me on Twitter @AudreytheEditor

Link on LinkedIn (Email me first so I know how you know me.)

If you know a writer who would appreciate receiving Editor's Notes, forward this issue.

If someone has passed this on to you, you can get your own free subscription by signing up at
Back to Back Issues Page