Get Micro-Creative

I’m on vacation, visiting family, friends and old college pals in my home state of Virginia, so I’m offering one of my most popular posts:

Sometimes I just don’t feel like being creative.  A deadline looms, I haven’t had time to shower, and I suddenly realize it’s been way too long since I left my apartment.

pen with drop of ink

But I have to ask myself: Can I muster up enough creative mojo to write six words?

In my post last Friday I talked about capturing tiny moments for slivers of creativity.  While I’ve often used those found moments to write pieces of larger stories, it’s fun to use them to write tiny stories as well.

The famous tale about Ernest Hemingway’s 6-word story seems to be getting a lot of Internet attention these days.  Legend has it that a bar bet led Hemingway to write what he claimed was his best short story:

For Sale: baby shoes, never used.*

The idea of a 6-word story must appeal to our over-scheduled, multi-tasking 21st century souls.  A quick search online came up with dozens of references, including an online magazine devoted to 6-word memoirs, an oncology center requesting 6-word stories about cancer experiences, a book of 6-word memoirs on love and heartbreak, a contest requesting 6-word submissions about air travel liquid restrictions, and a call for 6-word predictions in advance of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

6 stones

A truly well-written story takes some thought, even—or especially—a story of only six words.  But it can be fun to work on these in your head while you’re doing something else.

I spent a small amount of time doing this recently, and came up with three I like.  The first was inspired by a recent post, the second is all you need to know about a painful college breakup of mine, and the third feels like a 6-word poem to me:

My Six Word Stories:

The voices say I’m not crazy.

His hand in hers. I cry.

You live between my heart’s pages.

So the next time you feel like you don’t have time to write, ask yourself if you can write a 6-word memoir or poem or story or recollection of your first lover.  After writing these, I went back to my work feeling creatively refreshed, though I’d only spent a few minutes on them.

baby shoes

I’d love it if any brave souls would post 6-word stories in the comments!


*An alternate version of Hemingway’s legendary story: For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

2 Responses to “Get Micro-Creative”

  1. 1 nimaruichi June 21, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Hi Sandy,

    ‘Love you.’
    Only two words.

    I really enjoyed the post. Period.



    • 2 stranglingmymuse June 22, 2010 at 8:55 am

      Thanks for your 6-word story, nimaruichi — and for your 6-word comment! Good luck with your writing.


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