Powerhousing Heisig: Turtles with New York accents

This is just an observation i’ve made while I’m doing my Heisig.  The method involves learning about pieces of the Kanji, called elements, and using them to compose stories about your Kanji. What I have found thus far are:

The most abstract terms require better stories.

Using powerful visual memory techniques (research the internet) retain stuff way better.

For example, In the last two weeks I have learned 330 Kanji. What I didn’t mention however, was that I learned the first 230 or so in the first four days. I took my time during the rest of the second week to be sure I had properly memorized most of what I had studied. When I think of my images, I sometimes include smells, oddball characters and completely outrageous things. Say for instance, escape, 逃 has the element for “road” and “turtle” in its Kanji. In the book, Remembering the Kanji, Heisig says to imagine that whenever you are trying to escape, you feel like you are moving slowly, like a turtle. Then imagine the turtle on an expressway. I tried, but this story didn’t really work for me. I’d see “escape” pop up in Anki or Mnemosyne and go completely blank. Escape and a turtle weren’t connecting.

This is a natural part of the process, even Heisig says to patch up stories that aren’t too clear. So I modify them (slightly, to greatly modify is dangerous, as you can mix up Kanji later on), so I just thought of a turtle on an expressway, screaming “we must Escape!!! ESCAAAAAAPEE!” as he barely moves forward. Now as soon as I see “escape” I see the turtle scream. Probably with the accent of a New York Cabbie. Then its solidified.

Today I’m shooting for one hundred Kanji, and I’m currently at 58 Kanji. I’m realizing shooting this high causes me to burn out a bit, because you have to sit and visualize strong images to imprint them strongly in your memory. So as you for the stories, you must sit sometimes for a minute or two, to get it really deep in there. Add Anki or Mnemosyne to that, and you have a lot of “brain work” going on. I think by the end of the day I will hit probably 70, which for mostly people is a week’s work. But my goal is to try and learn the 2,045 in six weeks tops, so I can start mining sentences.

I warn you, the Heisig isn’t difficult, but doing upwards of 50+ Kanji a day is mentally taxing (especially for me because I study throughout the work day.) If  was sitting at home wihtout much to do, I probbaly wouldn’t feel as  much “burn” but I’m on a `sooner rather than later plan`. Anyhoo, back to more Mnemosyne and growling about stories I haven’t solidified. Right now words like “carrry” and “guidance” are a little tricky.


About marcusbird

Writer, Designer, Filmmaker
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