Saturday, July 16, 2011

Six Word Memoirs

I recently taught a week-long graduate course to teachers of kindergarten through eighth grade. We focused on managing reading and writing classrooms—all the nuts and bolts of scheduling your time, handling your paperwork, getting to know your students, building a connection to their homes and parents, and creating a workshop environment in the classroom to support their reading and writing growth.

One of the activities my co-teacher introduces each summer as an ice-breaker is the Six Word Memoir. She originally clipped this idea from a Valentine's Day issue of Readers’ Digest magazine. People summed up their lives and loves in just six words. We have found it challenging and fun to do the same in our classroom!

Here are a couple of examples from the original article:
  • Where he is, I am home. (Julia Evans)
  • In hindsight, I’d still choose you. (Natana Gill)
  • Marriage, children, empty nest: Now what? (Oliver House)
  • He e-mailed again, and I deleted. (Molly Antopol)
  • Hired me. Fired me. Married me. (Julie Klam)
They’re great, aren’t they?
So, of course, we all write them in class. Some choose to focus on love. Some create a list of topics: a memoir about their childhood, a memoir about teaching, a memoir about love, a memoir about the summer.

I think it’s fun to create a memoir about each stage/aspect of my life: childhood, teenage years, first marriage/divorce, single life, remarriage, motherhood, today.

Here were a couple I wrote during this summer's class:
  • Headstrong, too young, bad choice, divorce.
  • Second chances lead to life’s treasures.
  • Daughters—my heart outside my body.
  • Writing, art—bring energy to living.
Someone in class suggested that this could become a daily writing discipline—to reflect on the day each evening before bed, and create a Six Word Memoir to encapsulate whatever stands out to you.

The words “daily discipline,” of course, doom me before I even begin, but I have done it on again/off again since the class finished up.

I have one of those ten-year journals, where you have just four lines to write about your day.
For example, when I write about July 10, I can see what I was doing or thinking or experiencing on each July 10 prior to this one. My book covers the years 2010 to 2020, so I have really only just begun. (And by the way, I was amazingly faithful to it last year, but there are a few significant gaps this year; I have to believe that after ten years, some two week gaps here and there won’t seem quite as significant!)

Anyway, it occurred to me that this ten-year journal is the perfect place to record my memoirs when I feel inclined to create them. Here are some examples:
  • July 2: Zentangles bring me home to art. Reclaiming comfortable position as full-time mom. Too much laundry for one day. Dirt, shovels, sprinkler—true toddler bliss.
  • July 3: Still, humid heat makes outside unbearable. Pee, poop, and potties exhaust me. Grilled steak, asparagus, and Corona—ahhh! Long talks draw sisters closer together.
Do you see how fun this can be as a journaling practice?
It has also occurred to me that those of you involved in the Index Card a Day challenge could incorporate Six Word Memoirs if you were interested in including meaningful text with your daily drawings and images.

If you decide to try a Six Word Memoir or two, I hope you’ll include it in a comment, or share a link to a blog entry where you try it out!

Enjoy a creative weekend!

22 comments:

lee said...

whagt a great idea, if I try it I will let you know.

laurie said...

i love this idea. it certainly forces you to be precise with word choice and get to the point!

Daisy Yellow said...

The 6-word journaling in a 10-year journal, how cool! I've not heard of a 10-year journal but it sounds like something that could perhaps be made.

miracler52 said...

Nae blase' not let Miracler stay

lori vliegen said...

wow, you are the queen of great ideas!! your six-word-memoir is a fabulous way to journal! i'll have to put my brain to that.....i love your entry "second chances lead to life’s treasures".....fabulous! and that ten year journal is awesome.....definitely going to look for one of those!! xox

artistaprilcole@gmail.com said...

What a wonderful idea, thanks for sharing!
You come up with some very creative ideas... love it :]

iHanna said...

It's a great idea, I've read about it before at Gretchen's Happiness Project, she calls it a one-sentence journal! I love the idea, and your sentences is like poetry!

But it is not for me, I'm too wordy when I start writing...

Andria said...

I'd like that, Lee! Yes, Laurie, that's why it's such a discipline. Hanna, I'm like you--wordy--so that makes trying to do this kind of an interesting exercise. I was just thinking of ordering Gretchen's book yesterday. Tammy, I'm glad you saw this post; thanks for the link on your blog! Sorry, Miracler52...I'm not sure what you are commenting about, but thanks for the visit. Thanks, Lori; I got my journal as a gift, but I think it came from the book catalog Bas Bleu. Thank you, April!

Parabolic Muse said...

Okay, YOU are a charmer. Because I am not really a 'prompt' person, and usually generate multiple things concurrently, so that the key is to be UNprompted. However, This six word memoir thing really FOCUSES a person and brings it home. I am going to put that on my list of future blogging topics, and if it's up next, it will be three posts from now. HA!

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