Six word memoir

The Tool

A Six-Word Memoir is storytelling tool. It is a focused way of telling a story in six words. According to literary legend the novelist Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a short story in only six words. Hemingway’s six word story read: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

The U.S. based online storytelling Smith Magazine took this idea and asked its readers to tell their life story in just six-words. Smithreaders submitted their six-words via, and Smith's Twitter account and this gave birth to the Six-Word Memoir book series.

How to use it

  • focused writing
  • crystallizing a concept or idea
  • providing a definition
  • prioritization - going to the heart of an issue
  • plenary activity


  • Introduce the concept of Six Word Memoir by providing short historical background of idea.
  • Show a you tube video that provides examples of six word memoirs. The following example is from SMITH Magazine:

  • Ask each participant to individually write their six word memoir on the topic you are exploring.
  • Show case these on the wall - maybe in a montage.
  • Collate ideas or principles using a collaborative tool like  Word clouds or Padlet


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