Sunday, October 26, 2014

Telling Your Story in Six Words

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.  ~ Maya Angelou

You have an untold story just waiting to come out. But if you are not into writing long memoirs, consider writing a six-word memoir to share your story. I learned about the six-word memoir several years ago from Smith Magazine's Six-Word Memoir website. The website has inspirational ideas, examples, contest descriptions, and galleries. I used the idea in a memoir writing workshop I facilitated, and my students enjoyed the exercise. 

The possibilities are endless; see for yourself:

Six-Words, 2010

It's easy to get started:

Brainstorm for Ideas
Reflect on your life, experiences, and accomplishments.
Write down your responses to the questions above without thinking about the number of words. Skim through your ideas, and select the best one. Then condense the words to six.

Select a Topic
If you're having a little difficulty generating ideas, or if you're thinking, "I'm sooo much more than six-words" think about various topics, and write a six-word memoir for each topic. For example, I’m a brave person (well, most of the time, anyway). So, my six-word memoir for the topic personality might be

This lady doesn’t run from spiders.

If I want to put a little attitude to it, I might write

This lady don’t run from spiders.

But this six-word memoir is only a fraction of who I am. It does not reflect my creativity. So, to address it, I might write

My imagination, where dreams are conceived

Here are some topics to get you started:

  • Social life
  • Love life
  • Finances
  • Character
  • Spiritual life
  • Career
  • Emotional

Use a Thesaurus to Find Synonyms
To find sophisticated and interesting words, use a thesaurus. If you're an Internet surfer, I recommend Better yet, use a creative source such as Evans’s The Gilded Tongue: Overly Eloquent Words for Everyday Things. You’ll find remarkable words that will add interest to your six-word memoir. Mind you, people will have to use a dictionary to discover the meanings, but if you are a mysterious person, this method is perfect for you. For example, if you cannot control your shopping habit, you could use oniomania. And if you are unpredictable, you could use aleatory (Evans, 2006).

Now, Shout it from the Roof Tops
Publish your untold story. Frame it, put it on a t-shirt, bumper sticker, or a poster.

You can even get family members involved. Have each family member create his or her own six-word memoir. It's a way for them to use critical thinking skills and to express their individuality.

How would you describe yourself in six words? This is the story in you. Share it.

Connect with me on Pinterest to view creative ideas about writing:

  • Why should you write?
  • How should you write?
  • The quirks of writing
  • When should you write?
  • What is writing?
  • What is a writer?
  • In what should you write?

Evans, R, (2006). The gilded tongue: Overly eloquent words for everyday things. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books.

Six Words. (2010). Six-word memoirs: The video story. Retrieved from

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