SMITH Magazine has been challenging folks to tell their life story in six words. Six words. No more. No less. The challenge, set in 2006 has ignited a movement. The idea was inspired by the legend that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words. His response: “For sale; baby shoes, never worn.”
When SMITH Magazine asked for six-word memoirs, reader response was tremendous. While studying the site, I discovered a plethora of submissions from thoughtful (“My simple happiness is getting complicated”) to poignant (“Got AIDS; Won’t get THAT again.”) to funny (“Only a sin if you’re caught”).
The first book, Not Quite What I Was Planning, is a NYT bestseller featuring more than 800 writers, famous and obscure. There are more books, blogs, videos, t-shirts, school projects, and a variety of other ways the movement is expanding.
I especially like the idea that teachers are using this experiment as a writing and discussion project for their students: “I’m ten and have an attitude.” I can’t think of a better way to get kids to write and ask questions about stories than to challenge them to write about themselves in six words.
Six-word memoir writing is kind of like playing truth or dare. It’s a bite-sized challenge that’s both risky and exciting. But if you’re willing, and you’ve got something to say, go for it.
P.S. Please let me know if you submit a memoir. I’d love to read it and publish it here, too. Send me a note, or post a comment.
Check out the links below to get started.
- Six-word memoirs
- Notes from the Master of the Six-Word Meme | The Six-Word Memoir Blog.
- Excellent video from SMITH Magazine on You Tube. It’s worth three minutes of your life. (Caution: The song “Stretch” that plays with the video contains one well-placed expletive around the 2 minute mark.)