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Words to Tell Your Story: Your Six Word Emotional Drive-by

A dear friend was struggling recently following the death of a long time friend. I don’t think Baby Boomers are prepared yet to start losing loved ones. In spite of increasing joint pain and occasional bouts with illnesses, we still harbor the hope of immortality or at least invincibility.

So to help my friend I started researching grieving techniques. Within a few keyboard clicks I stumbled upon a website called What’s Your Grief? (WYG). The site contained a number of creative tips for exercising grief. My favorite is a writing exercise called “The Six Word Story”. The website describes the six word story this way:

“Legend has it that famous author Ernest Hemingway, out to lunch at the Algonquin, bet a table full of fellow writers he could write a short story in just 6 words. His companions had their doubts and wagered 10 dollars each to put Hemingway to the test. As the tale goes, Hemingway believed the resulting story to be his finest work ever.


The tale of Hemingway’s ‘baby shoes’ continues to interest literary fans to this day, and six-word stories (classified as a ‘short short stories’ or sometimes ‘flash fiction’) can be found all over the place.”


“Six-word stories are the perfect little drive-by of emotional expression. The constraints of choosing only six words feels strangely freeing.  It relieves the pressure of writing a perfect and precise story. The key to the six-word story is finding the best 6 words to communicate your point.”

Read What the Huffington Post Says About 6 Word Stories:

“These abridged yarns do not fall into one genre, or even one tone, their only similarities being their strict adherence to the mandatory word limit. Some anecdotes are funny, some are introspective and others are down right heartbreaking.”

I was unfamiliar with this literary genre but I can see all sorts of applications, especially when navigating emotional issues. They are a great way to capture anxiety, joy, even pain, in a succinct way. I’ve been navigating my own set of stresses this week and playing with the 6 word story technique has brought about clarity and relief. (The operative word here is “play”. There are no rules. These are exercises by and for yourself  and can be shared or not)

I even developed something called the “Parent Project” using the Six Word Story exercise to examine Parent-Child relationships. More on that topic in my next post.

To see more examples of 6 word stories click here.


Grief topics/prompts and story examples:

A story about your loved one
Example: A House filled with joyful noise

A story about a good memory
Example: Stayed home sick. Best day ever.

A story about you after she died
Example: Windows down. Less driving. More crying.

A story about something that makes you mad
Example: A Good death. No such thing!

A story about something that gives you hope
Example: Yesterday I was a different person.


liz-kitchensLiz Kitchens is a writer and blogger.  Her blog, Be Brave. Lose the Beige, reaches out to Lady Boomers, women of the Baby Boomer generation. Liz also blogs for Growing Bolder and Vibrant Nation, two sites devoted to aging issues. Liz conducts workshops on the health benefits of creativity and is an ambassador for the Creative Caregiving Initiative sponsored by the NCCA, The National Center for Creative Aging. Liz founded the Jeremiah Project, an after school and summer creative arts program designed to foster self esteem and encourage creative thinking among at risk middle school aged students.

Check out Liz’s blog, Be Brave. Lose The Beige, and follow her on Facebook.

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