Writing When You Have a Terrible Memory

I have a terrible memory. Readers of my blog will not find this surprising, as it’s something I’ve mentioned many times before. Or have I? I can’t remember.


Right. So, I have a terrible memory. Which can make writing very difficult, as where other writers would be working on a scene and think, “Hmm, did I already mention this earlier? Yup, I did. Okay, moving on,” I go through the following thought process:

Did I already mention this earlier? Yup, I did. Or did I? I should probably check …

*Scrolls back through manuscript to appropriate section. Finds nothing.*

Okay, I’m good. So I can mention it here, and then … hang on. I definitely talked about this. I’m like 73% sure I did. Maybe it was in a different section?

*Starts at beginning of manuscript and starts scrolling. Halfway through Chapter 3, notices a typo.*

Dammit. How did I manage to misspell “the”? It’s three freaking letters! Hang on, I remember this scene being funny. Let me just read a bit … no, she wouldn’t say that, let’s change it … ha! Good one, Michelle. This bit should be longer though, to drive home the joke …

*Three hours later.*

What was I doing again?

As a result, writing tends to take a while.

This blog post was brought on by my valiant attempts to write the first draft of Cerulean Bound, in which I introduce the space rock band Hail Oblivion. The drummer is currently named both Flurgeluff and Snorgeluff, as I apparently changed his name halfway through and didn’t notice until I went back to double-check the spelling. In my defense, I got the second half of the name correct, and that’s really all that matters, right?


Wrong. I seem to be incapable of remembering characters’ names. I’m lucky I remember my own name half the time. Then again, I grew up with my father frequently referring to me as “Cocoa,” which was our dog’s name, so I suspect it’s genetic.

In conclusion, remembering things is hard.


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Categories: Writing | Tags: , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Writing When You Have a Terrible Memory

  1. I have moments like those, but I found a way around the scrolling. As long as the program allows it, do a ‘Find’ for any keywords used for whatever you’re doing. Not a perfect method, but it saves on time.

    • I did actually do a “find” … for “snorg”, the first part of “Snorgeluff”, and found nothing. So, perplexed, I scrolled back up to the section where he was introduced, and sighed heavily at my own silliness.

  2. Do you use Scrivener? Super useful for organizing writing and you can put all your characters in its own location. What I find most useful when working with made up names is to teach the spellcheck the proper name and if I ever deviate from that, I will get the red squiggles. I have a terrible memory too, so I can relate to your story. 🙂

    • I keep intending to use Scrivener but I just haven’t gotten around to downloading it. Probably because I find the struggle to make Word cooperate oddly thrilling. Like I’ve defeated some insurmountable foe … only to have it resurrect and strike back when I least expect it. Writing is a battlefield for which there can be no clear victor.

      In conclusion, I should probably download Scrivener. It sounds like it would solve most of my problems, lol.

      • Oh if you like the struggle then definitely get Scrivener, it has a learning curve but after you play with it, it becomes awesome. Plus Full Screen mode is awesomesauce!

  3. One thing I do is have a notebook where the characters and scenes are sketched out in brief before writing begins proper.

  4. I have lots of moments like those. I actually had to use search and replace in Word one time when I couldn’t remember the way I spelled a characters name.

  5. Ha ha – it’s like you’re describing me! 😀

    I keep a help.doc document whenever I write, and write down every single name, place etc, or I’m bound to screw up all the time.

    • Yeah, that’s probably something I should start doing too, lol. I usually make something like that when I get into the later editing stages, but never for first drafts …

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