How to Remember Your Stories

How often do you lose small things, like your phone? Your keys? You wander to and fro, looking places you’ve already looked (under the seat) and random places (in the refrigerator), and when you try to pull up the memory in your brain of exactly what you did, you come up blank.

Or how about big things, like your car? Ever wander up and down the rows of cars in a parking garage, mumbling letters and numbers in your head as if asking questions of the great cement structure? “E2? E1? G3?”

Things get lost easily in this busy world, both the smallest things and the largest things. Even the most precious things go astray – like our stories. Do you ever find yourself preparing for a speech, or a blog, or talking with a partner and knowing you’ve got a relevant story, but when you call it up, you just get white noise?

Get a storybox!

Get thee to your story box!

Sometimes you might need to remember something really big, like the reason why you do your work , or something really small that could grow up to be a story one day –  like a funny thing your kid did at the car wash. And without your story, it comes out like an explanation that just doesn’t have the feeling. Regardless, it’s good to have a way of keeping your stories so you can find them when you need them. Here are some tips for just that.

1. Get a story box. Make it something nicely designed and special…and old cigar box or jewelry box. Mine is a wooden box from Marrakesh that Joel got me last year. It has secret locks…but I never lock it, because then it’s too hard to put stories in!

2. As stories come up, write them on a small piece of paper, or a notecard. If you’re at your desk, great, if not, put them in your wallet for when you get to where your story box is.

3. If it’s not a complete story, don’t worry about it! Look for ideas, sparks of stories. Once you put them in the box, they’ll grow.

4. Keep it simple! A few lines, maybe a title for the story, an opening line, and a few talking points that will help you remember. Maybe include a lesson or two, and the last line of the story.

5. When you’re looking for your stories, review your other cards too. This will help strengthen your entire story collection.

The more you care for your stories, the more you’ll develop them, and the more you’ll remember them…and the more you’ll use them.

Send us a picture of your story box!


  1. Dane Golden on May 2, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Excellent post Jay. I recently saw a documentary about Woody Allen, who has a drawer full of random notes. Whenever he gets stuck for ideas, he pulls out his drawer and dumps it on the bed and sifts through it randomly.

  2. Allyn Giddens on May 3, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I love this idea! Then I suddenly realized that my “story box” consists of all the post-its hanging from all the cabinets in my office. I am surrounded by my story box. I was thrilled to realize that I hadn’t been losing all my stories.

  3. JayGolden on May 16, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks Dane, I heard that this scene was in the most recent documentary. Allyn can you send me a pic of your ‘story box’?:)

  4. Boy on September 12, 2013 at 3:32 am

    I have never heard this method before. But I will give it a try. Thanks. What I do is very simple. I write everything down on a piece of paper to create a list, and every day I read this list. This works very well.

    • JayGolden on September 12, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Thanks! Every day is a good practice…

  5. Mark on December 4, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    really useful many thanks

  6. Celia Alario on December 11, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    where do we send story box photos?

  7. Jonathan Duarte on May 7, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I’m great at writing down lots of ideas.
    Unfortunately, I’m also really good at coming up with ideas…

    Lots of ideas + Lots of notes = Big Unorganized Mess!

    Then, I started reading “Getting Things Done”, and I’m putting all those great ideas in Evernote.
    Anything I want to reference at a later time, but not work on now, goes in there.
    I use my phone, my computer, and Ipad, my work computer, etc…. all keyword searchable for later use.

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