How to Tackle Six-Word Memoirs

Three years ago, in 2011 (!), I wrote about six-word stories in the post "Writing Tiny Stories." At this point, many website are devoted to them. The first, from SMITH Magazine, is linked to the 2008 book Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, which itself started with a blog in 2006. The editors got a multi-book deal, so there are new books available that focus on different topics or groups such as: I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure; and Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: by Writers Famous and Obscure and It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure and Six-Words Memoirs on Jewish Life.

In the 2011 post I tried to break it down, to figure out what one needed to write them. I've come up with some other suggested formats. Again, I wonder, can you describe your life story in six words? My first thought was, "This is hard. I am overwhelmed."

The you that is YOU is complex. Where to start? Try focusing on one of these.
  • Character traits (intellectual or emotional: what are you perceived strengths or weaknesses?)
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Physical self-description
  • One moment in your lifetime (a particular memory or story)
  • Dream or dream self
  • Your fears
  • Your desires
  • Your connection to someone to whom you feel close or from whom you feel distant
Some sample formats
  • Cause and Effect: I did this. Then that happened.
  • Comparisons: I'm like this. But also that.
  • Similes: Being me is like ___    ___   (Swiss cheese? Braids undone?)
  • Metaphors: I am a/the/an  ___   ___   ___  (tiger asleep already? shiny beach shell?)
  • Puns or wordplay: Pick a subject. Use double meanings. (i.e. shoes and soles/souls or tongues)
And a few possibilities:

Talks in metaphors. Paints in rhyme.

Told the truth. Lost the "friends."

Throwing out crumbs. Waiting for fish.

School starts today. I'm going to try this with the class as content for the stick scroll.


An intriguing idea, this hexagonal brevity.