Friday, March 26, 2010

Selective Memory: Writing Aid

For some strange reason when I write something down it gains a significance that stays in my memory, regardless of whether or not I actually consult the writing again. For example, with the blue notebook I carry around in my pocket it is often the case that I can write a list in it and never have to consult it again to remember it, but if I don't write it down in the first place then I can't remember those thoughts. Writing, therefore, may be a technique that could assist me with my involuntarily selective memory, specifically in regards to my reading.

What I plan on doing is keeping a scrap notebook at hand when I'm reading something, and then write down my thoughts whenever I deem that I have come across some material or thinking that's worth remembering. The emphasis here is not on constructing well-formed notes to study for later on, but simply writing something down to force myself to put into coherent words my thoughts and engrave them in my memory.

But then again there could be a potential conflict. I notice that when I read something that's really interesting I get nearly totally absorbed in the piece, and so am interrupted by any outside stimulus. Today while I was trying to read an article and write about it at the same time the writing broke my concentration, made my mind wander, and eventually made it so I couldn't get as absorbed in the article as I had before. I believe that intense concentration itself may contribute to successful memorization, so I may only be hurting my efforts if I cancel out one memorization process in favor of an inferior one. Given this, it may be better to write my thoughts down after I have finished the reading piece, kind of like a summarizing essay. However, if it is the case that I am not interested in reading something but find benefit in doing so anyway, or else have little choice in the matter, writing at the same time could force me to concentrate. I'll adjust my habits according to the type of piece I'm reading. If it's for my personal studies and I'm intensely interested in the piece so as to be absorbed, I'll hold off the writing until the end. If I'm not highly interested but will read the piece anyways, I'll write to aid concentration. If I'm both highly interested and believe it to be beneficial to take proper notes, I'll read the piece at least twice, once "purely" and the second with note-taking.

That sounds good. I think I'll employ the third method when I get to studying Cookwise, which has yet to arrive at the library. Knowledge and good habits may be a struggle to achieve, but they priceless possessions once obtained.

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