Home
I have an astonishingly bad memory. On the plus side, I'm more creative than most civilians. I think the two are connected. That's my hypothesis for today.

I'm good at remembering concepts, systems, ideas, and generally how things flow and fit together. But I don't have a trace of photographic memory in which one can remember exact conversations, phone numbers, names, and other matters of objective fact. I also can't remember directions to a new place until I've been there a hundred times. It's inconvenient as hell.

In school, I could force myself to remember topics for tests, but it only lasted as long as the test. At home, we have a lot of conversations about what I might have heard or said at some specified time in the past and it almost never sounds vaguely familiar. Sometimes it feels as if someone else lived my life until this very moment and now I'm taking over.

The way I perceive the act of creativity while it happens in me is as a process of forgetting, not a process of creating. The mind is not capable of having zero thoughts, so when you flush whatever is in your head at the moment it creates a sort of vacuum that sucks in a new thought. In my case, that process of forgetting and then sucking in a new thought happens continuously. My memory isn't "sticky," so what comes in slides right back out in a nanosecond. Sometimes a new thought is worth writing down, which I either do right away or lose it forever. Usually the new idea is random garbage and it passes quickly, making room for the next idea. My mind feels like a slot machine that I can't stop pulling. Sometimes the diamonds line up, but not often.

My question for readers is this: Do any of you have a combination of excellent memory for facts/dialog/numbers while also possessing commercial grade creativity? My hypothesis is that none of you will have that combination.
 
Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +63
  • Print
  • Share

Comments

Sort By:
Aug 17, 2012
I have a high capacity for remembering facts, concepts and procedures, yet my primary job function is as a Graphic Artist. On the other hand, I've never considered myself highly visually creative. I just have an ability to analyze and manipulate a system to where I appear to be creative by replicating and combining the work of real art that I have previously seen.
 
 
Aug 17, 2012
Terrible memory, left handed & short sighted - that's me.
And I have the occasional flash of creativity.
 
 
Aug 17, 2012
Define commercial grade creativity. If you mean your level of creative success then its quite possible that none fitting the bill will comment on this blog (how many folks do you think are out there that have your level of creative success?) The lower we put the bar the more likely it is that, even if someone does chime in and say they have both, your hypothesis would still have some validity.
 
 
Aug 17, 2012
I see your hypothesis and raise you a statistic I've made up to illustrate a point:

If 10% of the population is very creative and 10% of the population has a good memory then over time, the amount of population with the potential to have which has both should approach 1%. Therefore about one in every hundred people will be good at both. Now if a person doesn't get a chance to shine in terms of intellect or creativity or lacks the confidence, that number should drop as a means of perception.



I'm kinda creative and have an okay memory except for names and chores someone asks me to do when I'm not paying attention. Sometimes I'll forget a word too for a short time, but I usually know the first letter of the word. When it comes to random facts, I'm better at remembering things.

I know some people use mneomic devices for remembering things. Those helped me remember the names of two temps in my office (both names both started with S).


As an aside, in one anime I was watching a genius teacher couldn't remember the names of her students. One of the other teachers said something like you're smart enough, their names just aren't important to you. I think importance to the rememberer plays a role. In mystery men, Dr. Heller got the Shoveler to remember the doc's name by saying it aloud. So if you are a more audio learner, maybe saying the name a few times helps.
 
 
Aug 17, 2012
Totally agree. I often tell people that I outsource all memory functions to my wife. And, she has learned that if she wants me to actually remember something, she has to send it an email rather than make a verbal request.

I think poor vision and being left-handed also lead to creativity. Poor vision forces you to cognitively "fill in the blanks" of what you might be seeing. Being left-handed forces you very early in life to come up with creative solutions to living in a right-handed world.
 
 
Aug 17, 2012
Strange you would guess none of us would have that combination. Sounds like the stereotypical "absent minded professor". I would argue that a cartoonist is basically an academic, so it fits. I have this trait, and I my wife is a teacher and often tells me "Child X keeps mouthing off facts like the date Napoleon was defeated, etc etc but when I ask him what the war was about can't sum it up, while Child Z can always tell me what the lesson was about but doesn't remember Napoleons name".

Unfortunately I keep hearing Presidents are great at remembering names and we all know how bad they are at keeping track of the themes and promises of their campaigns once elected. Maybe your questionably unique brain wiring is why you didn't make the primaries Scott.
 
 
 
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog