Welcome. This blog is my little home on the web. It's mostly about my favorite hobby, digital scrapbooking. You might also find some recipes, home decor projects, or parenting woes. But mostly digital scrapbooking.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Six Word Story

On Sunday I shared a layout using a six word story as my journaling. In 2012 I wrote a bi-monthly article called girl + story for The Artisan Notebook. One of the articles I wrote was about using the concept of the six word story in scrapbooking. Here is that article, Six Word Story, from February 2012.

The world of digital scrapbooking is a-buzz with a desire and appetite for storytelling. I've made my share of layouts that are just for creative team responsibilities. I've made my share of pages that just decorate a photograph. The layouts that I hold most dear are the ones that tell a story, or the ones that capture an essential piece of my life. The word that describes these most cherished layouts: meaningful.

Right now digital scrapbookers want to bring meaning back to their layouts. Journaling tends to go right along with meaning in scrapbooking. But I realized several months ago that some of my favorite layouts, ones that hold a lot of meaning for me, actually have very little journaling. They do have a few choice words, though. I want to encourage you that you can create meaningful pages without lengthy paragraphs of text - it all depends on the amount of detail you want.

Last year I came across the concept of the Six Word Story. The legend (I don't know if it's true) is that Ernest Hemingway was challenged by colleagues to write a complete story using only six words, a task his friends thought impossible. But Hemingway met the challenge, and his six word story was: "For sale: baby shoes, never used." He called it his best work.

The idea that I can communicate a complete and meaningful story in only six words is empowering.  I can handle six words. Here's a six word story I thought of yesterday while doing chores:  "Dishwasher. They don't all fit.  Endless."  And this has been my story for the last three days:  "Waiting for Wednesday. Preschool starts Wednesday."

Even though I have had the six word story in mind for many months as a journaling technique, I had yet to use it purposefully in my scrapbooking. So a few days ago I found some pictures of my son playing with Legos. The photos were cute, but there wasn't anything particularly special about them.  I can't remember any details of what happened that day. My photos didn't focus on his creation, but it seemed to be one of the typical "robot spiders" that he usually builds. These are exactly the type of photos that might lead to a pretty page, but one that is lacking in significance.  The fact that he plays with Legos is a detail worth documenting, but I wanted to go a little deeper than that.

After a little thought, with the six word story in mind, I realized that there was something special I could say about me, related to the photographs:  I love to build and make things with my son, but I have a hard time with the playing that comes after the building ... I love building the little people a house, but making them walk and talk isn't my cup of tea. I put the six word story concept to work and came up with this:  "He builds. I build. He plays. I try."
Plain and Balance by Kitty Desigsn; Color Swatch Templates and Vintage Vogue Elements by Sahlin Studio;
Life365 Hodge Podge 15 and Every(DAY} Life by Gina Marie Huff

I know, my six word story has eight words, but the number is arbitrary. The idea still holds:  I used just a few words to tell a big part of my story.  My short-short story about building and playing doesn't give a lot of detail, but it conveys much of the emotion, struggle, and achievement I experience every day as a parent.

Now that I've put the six word story to use in my own scrapbooking, I see that it's not just a technique to help you put a few words down on the page.  Purposely limiting yourself to a few words helps you choose those words judiciously.  It helps you to focus on the emotion that is tied to the photographs. The six word story is not a tool for documenting a lot of details, but through it you can zero in on one detail.

For anyone who wants to keep strictly to documenting the facts, the six word story might not be a good fit for journaling.  Being so short, it does leave much of the story untold.  And being untold, there is room for interpretation. I personally love this aspect of it. I think this is where memory keeping meets art.  My life's story is not just about what I did, but how I felt and what I thought, and I can convey those ideas without explaining them. I do want to record the special events and holidays,  and I want to remember some of the everyday details that would otherwise be forgotten. But I also have an urge to see something bigger in the mundane details of my life and to share those insights with the rest of my community. The six word story plays right into this desire to make art - to reveal an idea or a feeling without spelling out each word.

The six word story is a very versatile tool. It can be a quick fix to get a few meaningful words down on the page, but it can also be your emotional magnifying glass and the medium through which you express your innermost thoughts. I hope you'll give it a try.


  1. Totally agree! Sometimes less is WAY more, and I love how this page turned out!

  2. thanks for your comment Tiffany!! :) I love this layout!! The delicate flowers down there are so beautiful!!! And I love all the ink splatter. So cute.