What Can You Say in a Six Word Memoir?

SIX WORDSWe talked about Six Word Stories in the last post, and some of you came up with some great ones – thanks!  But did you ever think about a Six Word Memoir?

I came across the idea about a month ago, over at Smith Mag.  They have some fabulous categories – Six Word Questions, Six Words on Love, Six Words by Tony Winners.

The idea behind it is to put something of your day into six words, and the results range from humorous to heartbreaking to gee-I’ve-been-there.  Here’s a sample:

  • Wish I’d take my own advice.  (Also the book title of teen memoirs.)
  • Everybody really does know my name.
  • Summer’s not the season for quarrels.
Great, huh?  If you follow #sixwords on Twitter, you’ll find a lot of people expressing philosophy and inner thoughts as well as memoir, sometimes with a photo, sometimes in poem form:


  • untethered :: I dance :: along dangerous edges (from @everythingin6)
  • looking backward / gaining perspective / through wisdom… (from @lazybookworm)
  • Watching you / like nobody else / exists. (from @nicholas_kane)

I love Six Words as a form for poetry and as captions for photos.  And when the six word poem and the photo come together, it can be powerful.  Here’s one that touched me:

my dawn, your sunset: our divide  From Chupacadabra (@poopocket) on Twitter

my dawn, your sunset: our divide
From Chupacadabra (@poopocket) on Twitter

I love the creativity of expressing yourself in six words. I love the word-work, I love the result. But then I got to thinking.  (Watch out – thinking usually gets me into trouble!)

Can six words really be considered memoir? What will really be remembered three years from now, or ten, or thirty?  Pithy sayings lose their context over time, and for me, the point of a memoir is to evoke the place and feeling and what happened so that you or someone else can re-live it.

For me, I think I’ll stick to memoirs in prose – a paragraph, a page, ten pages.  But for expressing a feeling or a single happening, Six Words have a way of stretching me.  So just for a lark, here’s a bit of my last week:

  • Sunday is for snoozing after church.
  • Summer feast: grilled chicken, corn, watermelon.
  • Prune oak tree, angry robin dive-bombs.

Are you game? Can you put something of your last week into only six words?  Share yours in the comments below – enquiring minds want to read!

(Apologies to those who got the half-drafted version of this in their e-mail.  Someday I’ll learn to be absolutely sure I’m hitting Preview, not Publish!)

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9 Responses to What Can You Say in a Six Word Memoir?

  1. Melissa Garvin says:

    Living in earth’s version of hell.

    Relief, son moving in with folks.

    Food, why do you torment me?

  2. Jennifer Jensen says:

    Brilliant, Melissa! And so fast – you must have a lot stored up. *g*

  3. Melissa Garvin says:

    Well, the weather here really has me down. It’s just impossible to get out and walk around, and even at night it really doesn’t cool down much. So, it’s been on my mind a lot. But, I’ll take the bad with the good. The air is much cleaner here than in Cairo, and it’s much less humid as well.

    Really looking forward to a trip out to visit family in August. 🙂

  4. Writing and epiphanies. Reclaiming my life.
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  5. Okay Jennifer, you are making me think again. lol. It was a beautiful sun-shiny day! And it was! 🙂
    Karen McFarland recently posted..Country is Taking Country by StormMy Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      Hah! That’s my job, to make people think, right? Hmmm.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing your six-word memoir, and I’m glad you had a sun-shiny day!

  6. Fun stuff. Add line breaks and hey presto, haiku! Been done for thousands do years!

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