Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Random Thoughts on Memory

Laying in bed last night, I laid out an excellent post for today.  Then I fell asleep.  Now whatever I had planned to talk about today is gone.  After all these years, you'd think I'd know better.  For a while I got into the habit of dragging myself out of bed to write down good ideas.  I have scads of papers lying around with snippets of ideas or bits of dreams or even a really well-turned phrase gleaned from my pre-sleep mental wanderings.  Bad me for getting out of the habit.

On the upside, I also did some thinking about where to go with the rewrite of DLN and that seems to have stuck in my memory.  Heh, the brain is such a funny thing...

Over the years I've had time to consider the workings of the brain.  I've said it before and it still holds true - the brain really is like a computer system.  You have your hard drive for long term and some short term memory, and your RAM (Random Access Memory) for thoughts of the moment.  If you don't do anything to get those short term thoughts from your RAM to your hard drive, they're lost when your computer shuts down for the day.  (Unless you're really lucky and something gets stuck in the temp folder - which is why I remember the plot ideas, I think.)  Writing things down moves thoughts from RAM to my HD. 

Of course, following the brain analogy, I have some bad sectors on my HD.  That makes finding old data a little problematic sometimes, and it's not too fun trying to find a path to newer memories either.  But that's life.  I just need to remember to use the tricks I learned to hang onto memories a little tighter.  Like, say, WRITE THINGS DOWN.  (Sounds like a bad joke: I have a memory problem, but I'm okay as long as I remember the tricks to remembering things.) 

Anyway, I know this isn't totally limited to folks with bwuised bwains.  I think it's a function of our huge data storage systems and the amount of data we try to store up there.  Add in our level of stress and tiredness, and things either get misfiled or they don't get filed at all.  I don't know if it's worse for people like us who use their brains so much, or if it's just a function of being a writer.  What do you think? 


  1. I am utterly brilliant as I fall asleep and dumb as a box of hair when I first wake up.

  2. I solve all my real and plotting problems while I sleep, and can't remember how I did it when I wake up. Le sigh.

  3. I wonder if writer's brains do work differently. Hm...

  4. Oh, and I like the brain analogy :)

    Talk about my own brain mis-filing.

  5. I have to write things down. If only I could write in my sleep, then I could read all those nighttime brilliant ideas and see for sure if they're crap or not!