Memorizing Thousands Of Words Is Easier Than You Think!
Here’s a recent question from a Magnet Memory Newsletter. It’s about making the Magnetic Memory technique more complex (if that’s your thing).
Here’s what he writes:
I bought your book, it was great but I did not understand one thing.
(I am sorry for my english, I am trying to learn it in fact)
I am ok with the idea of building a memory palace (26 houses, and 10 rooms in each house).
BUT, how do I proceed if I want to learn 3000 words ?
It is impossible at least for me to create 3000 rooms! Even a memory champion who designed a memory course has 1000 place for him to play with (50 journeys of 20 places).
Please can you help on this point ?
Do you re-use the same journey ?
Thank you in advance
Here is my reply:
Thanks for your message!
First of all, your English is very good.
How To Create Thousands Of Memory Palace Stations Using Imaginary Bookcases
But here’s the deal:
Once you are more practiced with the basics of the Magnetic Memory Method, you can do very interesting things within rooms. Imagine, for example, having a bookcase in a room and placing 5-10 words on each shelf. You can work from top to bottom or bottom to top.
Every room can have a real or imagined bookcase. Depending on your skill level, your rooms can have multiple bookcases. Let’s say that you decide upon having 10 bookcases per room in a 10 room memory palace. If each bookcase has 10 levels and you store just one word per level, then you have a room with 100 words in it, with 1000 words total when you add all the rooms together in just that one Memory Palace.
Get Started Now
You can get started on a memorization project like this today merely by picking a room that you are very familiar with and mentally building and installing a beautiful bookcase. For the sake of this example, let’s say the bookcase has 10 shelves.
Decide in advance if you will memorize from the top to the bottom, or the bottom to the top. I would go from the top to bottom myself, but go with whatever works for you. The point is to move in a linear progression without skipping shelves. As ever, you don’t want to cross your own path or somehow trap yourself as you move from station to station and word to word
As a beginner, help yourself out by picking ten words that proceed in alphabetical order, i.e. ten words that start with “an,” or share some other similarity. That way, you’ve eliminated a detail you have to remember because you already know how the next word will start.
It’s also good to have a key image connected with a “bridging figure.” With “an,” for example, you could have Annikin Skywalker, or Anne of Green Gables or anything concrete and visual that you associate with “an.”
Now as it happens, I’ve just been working on a portion of my ‘A’ Memory Palace devoted to “an” words in German (or words that change meaning when “an” is added to them).
Keep An Eye Out For Memorable Wildlife
One of my ‘A’ Memory Palace starts in a home my mother used to live in down a forest lane. But by now, I’ve got so many items, I’ve wandered out of the house and have made it halfway to town along a 30km road. So for the purposes of this example, I’m going to place an imaginary bookcase right in front of the peacock farm (yes, there really is a peacock farm and you have to slow down when driving past it because it is part of a school zone).
Now, to set myself up for even greater ease and success, I’m going to focus on words that start with “an” followed by “b.” Not every language lets you do this, but German does, so it’s important to capitalize on it. Whatever you’re working on, there will almost always be some memorization advantage you can exploit if you keep your eyes open for opportunities.
On the top shelf of this bookcase, I’m going to place the word “anbaggern.” It means “to flirt.” To memorize this word, I see Annikin Skywalker flirting with a peacock who is shoving a plastic bag into an urn. I see this image big, bright and colorful in my mind and the action of forcing the bag into the urn is very exaggerated. “Anbaggern.” Got it.
One shelf down, I place “anbahnen.” This word has a somewhat similar meaning, in that it indicates initiating something. This is tricky, because it’s more conceptual than concrete, but the first thing that comes to mind is Annikin Skywalker feverishly “initiating” the launch of a peacock into outer space, its mouth filled with bon-bons. Again:
Big, Bright, Colorful, Exaggerated Action!
Aller guten Dinge sind drei, say the Germans (all good things are three), so I’ll give you one more example before I go.
One shelf down, I place “anbetteln.” This means to beg. Now I see Annikin Skywalker kneeling before a bed, begging the peacock he first flirted with and then tried to launch into outer space to let him into the bed so he can get some rest after a long day of being a former hero who fell so badly from grace. And he is really begging in a larger-than-life way, tears and everything.
From there, I would continue on down to the bottom of the shelf and start again on the second one, or move to the next room, etc.
Preparation Is The Most Magical Potion In The World
It’s important, however, to take time before getting started to predetermine and prepare the way in advance. In this case, I decided in advance to do only ten words, so I only made one book case. But if I were sitting down for a memorization session and wanted to do a hundred, then I would want to have spent time in preparation for this. There’s nothing worse than being on a roll and then having to pause to build or identify the next station you want to use. Success comes from planning, and as they say in the self-help circles, failing to plan is planning to fail.
One last thing:
Did you read my book on card memorization? In that book I talk about the pack of cards on my office desk and how in that pack of cards I keep four cars, each of which has 13 locations (driver’s side headlight, passenger side headlight, hood, windshield, etc).
The Secret Of The Tiniest Memory Palace In The World
This pack of cards on my desk is an entirely imaginary “location,” of course, but it’s the tiniest little deck of cards and it is packed full of information.
In other words, you don’t have to use big bookshelves that take up entire rooms. You could have a deck of cards and inside of it an entire universe filled with space for placing the information you want to memorize. Just imagine having a deck of cards in each and every room, or a deck of cards on each and every shelf in each and every room …
Yes, I think it is very easy to come up with thousands of locations in a Memory Palace collection, if not hundreds of thousands. It just takes practice, and of course preparation and predetermination in combination with the basic principles of imagination and action. Throw in some relaxation before you get started using these memory techniques and you will never find the ceiling to what you can achieve.
Until next time, make sure to teach someone what you have learned about memorization. It’s the best way to deepen your own understanding and to help make the world a better place. The more we remember, the more we can remember, and the more we learn, the more we can learn.
A Further Resource For Boosting Your Memory