Ernst Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words. He wrote “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Legend has it that Hemingway called it his best work. Hemingway’s story spawned the six word story popularized by Smith Magazine which celebrates personal storytelling. Editors asked their readers to submit six word memoirs of their life and were mesmerized with the offerings, some of which follow:
“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends.”
“Love me or leave me alone.”
“I still make coffee for two.”
“Hockey is not just for boys.”
“I like big butts, can’t lie.”
“Should never have bought that ring.”
“Ex-wife and contractor now have house.”
Steven Pinker’s six word memoir published in Smith Magazine’s book “Not Quite What I Was Planning” reads: “Struggled with how the mind works.” His memoir inspired me to request my seminar and Think Tank participant’s to voluntarily write six word stories on certain subjects. The results have been humorous and edifying. Following are some of the six word responses describing being involved with innovation.
They asked. I thought. I created.
Ideas; I get them in excess.
Look at it from different perspectives.
How would a child do this?
Successful when ignoring what happened before
Made many mistakes before I succeeded
Followed logic, not intuition, never again
I’m enjoying even this horrific problem
Doing more for less is creativity
In and out of many ideas
Others quit early. I continue looking.
Time to start over again, again
To succeed, learn how to fail.
Work but spend time doing nothing.
I am still not seeing everything.
Approach problems on their own terms.
Many bad before one good idea.
Think about it in a different way.
Always work on the next idea.
Left brain job, work right brain.
The proof is in the pudding.
Here are some six word responses describing creative inspiration.
Last night confused. Slept. Morning. Eureka!
Dancing with ideas of infinite possibilities.
Think, dream, persevere, gain new perspectives.
Ideas have sex in my imagination
Took rocks, pounded them into sculptures.
Find great ideas in what’s discarded.
Connect the unconnected to create ideas.
I am trying in every way.
Waiting quietly for that special thought.
Bring it to a boil, often.
Tombstone won’t say did not try.
I learned to expect the unexpected.
Learn to color outside the lines.
I’m not afraid of problems anymore.
Learn to be tolerant of ambiguity.
Learn to make the familiar unfamiliar.
My earliest six word story about inspiration read “At night all thoughts are grey.” This described my work environment when I was at my most creative. I worked alone in the evenings in a dimly lighted office which spurred ambiguous thoughts and ideas that often led to viable ideas and projects. For years, I assumed that this was an idiosyncratic habit that somehow in some way empowered my personal creativity.
Recently, experimental psychologists Anna Steidle of the University of Stuttgard, and Lioba Werth of the University of Hohenheim, reported in the Journal of Environmental Psychology that their experiments demonstrate that darkness promotes creative thinking. They explained that a dimly lit environment elicits a feeling of freedom, self-determination, and reduced inhibition, all of which encourage creative thinking. In fact, merely priming the idea of darkness—taking five minutes to describe an experience of literally being in the dark, and recalling how it felt—was sufficient to boost creativity in their experiments.
What is your six word story about your experiences with creative thinking?