Six Word Stories

The delicate task of selection and arrangement of words on a page—writing—is as vital to a wordsmith as breathing.

Much like a surgeon’s unwavering use of a scalpel, writers carefully trim their work to achieve effectiveness through concision—the hallmark of good writing.

Perhaps the most famous example of brevity is the heartbreaking six word story attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

In creating an assignment for my Life Harmony students—write your memoir in six words—I first had to craft my own. For those of you don’t know me well, I ran away from home when I was a sophomore in high school. My six word memoir:
“Left home walking, learned to soar.”

I took this photo titled “Untethered” in September of 2011 while driving across a small portion of the Mojave Desert. Click on photo to enlarge.

What is your six word memoir?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

The Book—Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience—Life Harmony

© 2013 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence

105 thoughts on “Six Word Stories

  1. Laurie, I remember that line from long ago. Knocked me just as flat today as it did then. Something else to remember: ” Up, up and away, in my beautiful balloon!” Soaring all the way!

  2. I loved your 6-word memoir. I’ve never been good at short stories, preferring the novel’s length to tell a story, but here goes: Rigid career goals morph into tranquility.

  3. Inspiring Laurie. My 6 word story is carved from the photo I have of me being held in my dad’s arms, looking up at the trees for the first time, age 4 months. ” Outdoors finally, treetops mesmerizing, sayonara orphanage”.

  4. “Too many at home: travel far”. (I’m one of 10 children and it felt a bit crowded when my eldest sister had 2 children and stayed at home with my parents. I was 8 when she had the 1st one and 11 when she had the second. By the time I was 18, I felt very strongly I had to leave and make room for the younger ones).

  5. Laurie, This is so powerful to me right now. I think I’m rewriting some of those six words, and I’m not sure what they will be. For NOW, I think, “Choosing to quiet inside and out.” That has meaning to me and I’ll be thinking about it all day today. Thank you!

  6. Recognize, embrace and love being different! Six words, a gift from my amazing mother!!
    Thanks, Laurie. I have sojourned from social media since the beginning of May. I needed to stay focused on preparing and presenting workshops. Thanks for the thought-provoking post. It is an encouraging welcome back to my writing and social media world. HAPPY DAY!!

  7. Birthing cancer: awesome mother; healing kindness. (Popped into my head)

    I should pay you for this post as it opened up a whole possibility for my book group discussion I am leading tonight. WHEN WOMEN WERE BIRDS by Terry Tempest Williams. I have now read this book 9 times and will lead another book group on it next Tuesday. A memoir in 54 voices (or chapters)
    Thank you so much

  8. What a coincidence, Laurie– I just came across the Six Word Memoirs book in a bookstore! Your six words are so captivating. I’ll have to ponder mine…

  9. The “quiet twin,” out of her shell.

    (My current friends will never believe I was actually a very quiet, shy child.)

  10. Laurie, this is thought provoking!
    For now, I would say my six word memoir is:
    Earthy connections sprouting, bloomed into adventure.
    From a young age, I felt “mystical” connections with the earth though in many ways I lived in my head too, so that connection slowly sprouted and continues to call me into new adventures.
    Thanks for this exercise!

  11. hmm. . . I’m going to have to give it some thought to come up with a six-word memoir. Wordsmithing and trying to say things concisely is so much fun–but also challenging.

  12. Hi Laurie,

    Thank you for this opportunity to connect with you. Your Life Path information has assisted me so much in counseling my clients. My website is .

    My six word memoir would be:

    Committed to healing Humanity, with Love ♥

    Many blessings,

    • Debbie – I’m glad you’re finding the Life Path information useful, thank you for letting me know. I just visited your lovely website – wonderful! And I especially like your six word memoir🙂

      • Thanks so much for your kind words! I have found your information to be invaluable. I am a Life Path 7, to a “t”🙂 Have a lovely weekend!

  13. Hi Laurie, what a fantastic blog you have !
    I have two 6 word memories : Reflection is the mother of learning … Time is the greatest gift of all …
    I try to live my life after those two sentences🙂 // Maria

    • Maria – I thoroughly enjoyed reading your two six-word memoirs: “Reflection is the mother of learning” and “Time — the greatest gift of all.” Thank you for sharing them here🙂

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  15. What a brilliant exercise, Laurie. Wish I could be in your class–sounds like a good one! I can’t begin to abbreviate my life to 6 words at the moment–but I will work on this. Excellent memoir exercise.

    Sara and I have finally moved into our long-term rental here in Ecuador, and furniture arrived over the weekend. Now we have some place to sit. Maybe that means I’ll be able to write again.


    • Kathy – Once you’ve crafted your six-word memoir, I hope you’ll come back here and share it with us.

      Ahhhhhh, a long-term place to sniggle your toes into. That’s the best! I look forward to your up-and-coming blog posts🙂

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