There’s a legend that Hemingway wrote the greatest short story ever using just six words:
“For sale, baby shoes. Never worn.”
There are many indications that Papa didn’t pen those words or— if he did— was not the first to do so. But the Hemingway attribution persists, as these things often do.
The baby shoes story is illustrative of trying to tell a story with the absolute minimum of words. Generally referred to as flash fiction, the six-word limit led to the idea of the six-word memoir, including a collection published in book form by Smith Magazine in 2008.
Regardless, the point remains: you can say a lot without saying much at all. Which brings me around to my question today.
Why are you doing what you’re doing? Or, put another way, when you’re gone, what do you want people to remember about you?
Recently, my CEO group was tasked with considering these questions and writing our own six-word memoirs. It’s a great exercise that will help you hone in on the things that really keep you going, enabling you to marginalize all the noise and trash that just interferes with clear thinking.
It was also surprisingly difficult to do. In the end, I finally settled on:
For this: “I love you, Dad.”
Do you have your own six-word memoir? If so, I’d love to read it; share it in the comments below. If you haven’t written one yet but want to try, Smith Magazine has some great examples and good inspiration.