A good memory is definitely on the list of skills you want as a journalist. There are so many facts and figures to remember when covering a race, let alone a whole championship. So being unable to remember the race winner half an hour after the chequered flag isn’t great.
Unfortunately, I suffer from pretty bad memory problems. Yes, I have forgotten the race winner before I even get around to finishing a race report. Can you imagine how much of a struggle covering the Azerbaijan GP was?
There’s also the problem with historical context. Take this weekend for example, with people making comparisons between Sebastian Vettel’s move and that of other drivers in the past. Even popular tales from classic races rarely stick in my mind. Yes, I read about Lauda and Hunt, and Senna and Prost, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you much about those stories.
It’s honestly a miracle I passed any of my exams…
But being a journalist is the only thing I can imagine myself doing now. So how do I get around my absolutely atrocious memory?
Well, first of all there’s my bullet journal or, as I call it, my “second brain”.
Here, I keep everything from task trackers (for things I have to do every day) to race schedules. Every day, I have a to-do list which I add to throughout the day. That way if something occurs to me whilst I’m in the middle of writing something else, it doesn’t disappear from my mind. I’ll also have a list of articles to write each race weekend, so I don’t accidentally miss any session report or cover the wrong one (it’s happened).
My race calendar is also incredibly important. There’s no way I can respond to the question “are you free on X weekend” without checking it. There, I have all the races I’m covering nice and neatly laid out so I can check quickly (the answer to that question is almost always no…).
Away from the journal, I write pretty comprehensive race notes which are essential. I know people who can write a handful of notes per session and they can write fantastic reports but that just isn’t an option for me. I have to make note of almost all the talking points during a race. Take, again, the race in Baku. Until the final part of the race, Daniel Ricciardo wasn’t really important to the overall event, and I know some people would barely have mentioned him in their notes up until that point, but still would have remembered the important parts of his race. But nope, I had to look back through my notes to find out what on earth happened to him (and thankfully, I had made those notes). It does cause another problem, though, because there are a lot of notes to look through in an F1 race, and I can’t actually read that well…
That doesn’t, of course, make up for the context problem. But, thankfully, I’m a strong researcher. So I don’t need to know everything about every driver in the history of F1, just where to find the information that I need. Or where to find a list of places to look for the information that I need. That, thankfully, is less to do with memory and more to do with persistence, practice, and logic. Thankfully, those three skills are a little better than my memory.
So, that’s how I’m currently overcoming my memory problems.