When people talk informally about improving their memory, they usually refer to the ability to remember class notes or every telephone number in their address book. But there are many kinds of memory. For the purposes of writing memoir, the most important type of memory is the ability to recall events in the past – sometimes from years earlier, when there is no chance to go back to replay them.
The best hope for a potential memoirist is to have been one of the people, in the words of Henry James, on whom nothing is lost. Paying attention to the present is the best method of grabbing the moment once it has become the past.
Experts in many fields purport to offer formulas for a better memory, from eating certain foods to taking nutritional supplements to getting a good night’s sleep. All that can be said for certain is that all of of these may be useful for some people and some of them are helpful in one way or another for everybody, but none of them is a universal cure for forgetfulness.
Memory prompts are usually more reliable, especially if they are personal. The local souvenirs you brought back from Greece, or the quirky hat you wore on your honeymoon, will always bring certain days, even minutes, back to mind. A carefully kept diary is also helpful in restoring special moments from the past.
Stage actors share secrets for strong memories
Here’s a new twist on an age-old trick for remembering words, scenes, or events.
10 things that can influence our memory
There are dozens of articles like this on the Internet. This one summarizes much of what they say. All of them are worth exploring. It might be more worthwhile, though, to pay attention to the world around you in the first place.
How to improve your memory with this one weird, yet simple trick, according to science
There are quite a few useful mind games here. I especially like the one about chocolate.
Study: Meditation improves memory, attention
You can spend loads of cash learning how to focus, or you can start now for free by just shutting off your gizmos and paying attention to the air going in and out of your lungs.
If we remember more, can we read deeper-and create better? Part I.
Memorization – of poetry, for example – is a way of forcing your mind to pay attention. It might help you to remember the events in your life as well.
DARPA wants to zap your brain to boost your memory
This is not for everybody. But read it through to the end, and you may learn something about your own memory.
Memory loss isn’t just an old person’s problem – here’s how young people can stay mentally fit
A summary of many of the articles on this web site, this article details both errors of commission and of omission and describes positive steps we can all take in order to remember better.
Managing memory: We all learn – and remember – in different ways
An idiosyncratic but useful set of strategies for sharpening your memory.
Font of all knowledge? Researchers develop typeface they say can boost memory
If this theory is correct, by extension you will remember the article better if this synopsis forces you to read it for yourself.
38 science-backed tricks to sharpen your memory
This article has all the hints you will find elsewhere except for the most important of all: pay attention to the world around you.
Sitting, standing, walking: How do they affect your memory?
It has long been axiomatic that exercise is good for the mind, and specifically for memory. Now along comes research to provide some of the details.