Using words and dialogue in your images

I’ve recently realized that I use a surprising amount of dialogue and words in the images I create, especially when filling memory palaces/journeys with images. At first, I thought this would be problematic; after all, words on a sign (a technique I use fairly frequently) doesn’t make for a particularly memorable image. But so far I haven’t had any issues. I figured it might be worth mentioning, in case others want to experiment with it as well.

For an example of a sign; My list of Michigan’s counties includes a direction sign hanging in a stairway. On it is a large arrow and the words “New way. Go!” There is a cloud drifting along above this sign. (This tells me the county is Newaygo, and the county seat is White Cloud.) In my list of countries of the world, at one point I just have a sign with an arrow pointing north that says “North Way” for Norway.

At other points I’ll have characters just tell me their name (“I’m Ann Arbor”) or have an actual dialogue exchange to deliver the information I’m wanting to remember.

I tend to use these approaches when I have absolutely no strong images for a word or a piece of information—no puns occur to me, nothing “sounds like” what I’m trying to remember, etc. So I fall back on putting it on a sign or having someone say the actual information to me.

Admittedly, these are not the strongest associations I could make. But they do seem to work for me, especially when combined with a strong location. (I once tried using a large generic location, depending on the various dialogues happening to make the scene memorable, and it completely failed.)



I often use this, too, in order to strenghten the memory if the image seems weak. In combination with the Dominic System this works well, since each character has their own distinct voice. I will remember for sure whether it was Barack Obama or Mr. Bean telling me about a certain topic. This has often helped me when I needed to add some detail but couldn‘t find images for everything (or it got too crowded in the location).

This is fine if you have absolutely nothing left to think of and I’d do similar enough things sometimes but it will only work if you’re slowly memorising the data and spending a lot of time on each image. The thing is that you’re actually creating a link between the sign and the memory of you putting the sign there. Your brain is seeing the sign and you remember all the time and effort you put into trying to think of something for “new way go”. This is perfectly fine because you’re making a link to one piece of information so it’s easy to remember. Often the image doesn’t even have to resemble the actual idea that much at all, as long as it can give you enough information to trigger the initial memory then you’re good to go. If you’re memorising information very quickly like in a lecture or listening to an audiobook then this probably won’t be strong enough though.

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Speed isn’t important to me at all.

But, you wrote:

So I’m curious: What would you do in that situation? If you’re memorizing quickly and you have no relationship/association with the word/concept, what’s your solution? (I’m thinking I’d probably have to just jot a quick note and come back to it later when I’ve had more time to think about it!)



I normally do an equivalent of a quick note which is some big random object that has even the smallest association so when I come back to it I either know that there was something I missed and I can fill it in later and go back or it might just link me to the actual memory by chance and then I can create a better image later on when I’m revising

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Most of my mind palacing is done under pressure, even if I’m taking on a task by myself (like memorising a dictionary for a foreign language) I’ll set a timer and track my speeds and errors on excel for every 30 minute session and try to keep increasing it


Interesting description. It sounds like, and you’ve said this before, you have a visual foundation and you can “decorate” it with verbal information.

I definitely do it the other way. The substrate is a verbal narrative and the pictures are adornments like in a book. Interestingly I use the image as a key or peg but it’s like remembering the cover of a book which then has to play out. If I look at an object for more detail, its in the verbal content. I pull open a drawer, I hear a voice talking about it. I just read a page of software documentation. I recall a picture of the page and subjects but not clearly. When I “look” at a subject, the narrative runs. I haven’t yet made any deliberate effort to memorize it. It’s just the way it naturally happened for me. Might be partly laziness. Maybe I’m underusing a resource. Somebody suggested sketching as way of engagement. Might try that.

Feel the same way. What I want is reliable, fluent access so I don’t have to interrupt my train of thought. I want to be able to learn and think about what I find.