So, as you may recall, in this post, I announced my plan to memorize Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in its entirety. It has not been an easy task at all, so much so that I’m thinking of extending the duration of the project to a full year. Not because I’m giving up, mind you, but because memorization is a skill and one that’s a bit rusty, at least for me.
For the first few weeks, I struggled along, trying to commit paragraphs to memory every day. The problem, however, wasn’t memorizing each section; it was memorizing the whole. It didn’t help, of course, that the opening chapters of Frankenstein are the letters from Captain Walton to his sister. They do not, as such, lend themselves to easy memorization.
I decided that it might be helpful to practice on shorter and easier pieces. I started out with formal poetry, because it’s easiest to memorize — sonnets, in particular, are quite easy to commit to memory. Then I switched to free verse, which is slightly more difficult. This week, I’m working on memorizing short pieces of prose, paragraphs from longer works and also flash fiction (500 words or less). In the next few weeks, I’m hoping to memorize a short story in its entirety, likely something by Poe or Hawthorne, in honor of the season.
I’ve always learned things best by listening to them and writing them down simultaneously, so that’s my memorization strategy. My sense, however, is that the same approach doesn’t work for everyone.
How do you memorize? If you chose a piece to memorize for Project Fahrenheit 451, how is it going?