My friend Billie* always sends me the coolest links. So naturally, I’m going to share them with you. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts in editing; I’m meeting deadlines tonight. But here’s a great post about reducing important thoughts into a few words. Try it!
Brevity in Writing: PostSecret and the Six-Word Memoir
Brevity is generally considered a good thing in writing, though I sometimes wonder if language is in decline due to the tendency of e-mail and text messages to reduce writing to its lowest common elements: OMG, WRUD, LOL. (I frankly have to have a cheat sheet to translate the common abbreviations.)
But I am totally fascinated by the challenge of writing the six-word memoir, which was originated by Smith magazine and is often reborn in various forms. I even noticed a LinkedIn group focusing a discussion thread on it.
The Six-Word Memoir challenge is also like PostSecret, the stunning community art project in which readers share a personal secret. Because the secrets are shared on an anonymous postcard (which are nearly always hand-decorated), they are also really brief. All of them tell a story—sometimes funny, sometimes sad, always profound. A few years ago I went to a lecture by Frank Warren, the originator of this project. At the end, he invited members of the audience to share, in public and under bright lights, anything they wanted to say. The bravery of the speakers overwhelmed me. The one I remember the most was from the woman who told us that four years earlier she had mailed a postcard to PostSecret saying she wished she could have an abortion, but that her daughter was now the joy of her life and she was so very, very glad she had not. [Jamie’s note: Please, no politics.]
Although I’m not brave enough to share a secret, I will share my memoir: I’ll Be A Few Minutes Late. (Those of you who know me are laughing now.)
Can you write your six-word memoir? It’s both easier and harder than it sounds—but the discipline of composing one (or several) is good practice for all types of writing. And BTW, it’s a great party game.
* Used with permission. An editor at Cool Springs Press, Billie Brownell can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”