When Lisa and I present our "Preserving Life Stories" workshop, we encourage participants to create a six-word memoir---it's fun, takes very little time, and produces an often entertaining "nutshell" view of how the writer perceives their life.
The concept of the six-word memoir has been around for a while. Larry Smith, the founder and editor of SMITH Magazine, launched the Six-Word Memoir project in November 2006. Working in partnership with Twitter, he issued a simple online challenge: “Can you tell your life story in six words?"
From there an industry was born: a bestselling book series, live events held at schools, businesses, and at corporate retreats; even a board game. (Check out Smith's book "Not Quite What I Was Planning," published in 2008. The title is itself a six-word memoir.)
Some of our participants put together their six words right on the spot and share them with the group. They range from the flippant ("Hair never quite the right length") to humorous advice ("Never drink with a Bolivian lawyer") to a tale of love and separation over decades ("Met in 1959. Married in 2003.").
We've heard some that are wistful, which reminded us that everyone has internal struggles they don't typically share with others ("Gave in to my melancholia, occasionally"; "The unscalable barrier is always there"). A few of those writers said that giving voice to their feelings in a format where every word counts felt like an epiphany.
Our six-word prediction of how you are now feeling is captured in the title of this post.