What I Think I Learned: Slice of Life 31/31 #sol16

slice of life

I’ve been a holdout for years with the March Slice Challenge. I look forward to it every year as a reader, and I slice sporadically throughout the year, but I’ve never been so much as tempted to sign up for daily slicing before. Mostly out of concern for my readers. I didn’t think I could possibly publish something worth their valuable reading and commenting time for 31 days in a row. That has been the real challenge for me. Daily writing is not hard. Daily publishing is.

I’m a picky Slice reader and writer, though it’s hard for me to pinpoint just what it is that I need in a slice. So many different types of slices have appealed to me this month. To borrow a metaphor from one of my favorite Slicers, Carrie Gelson, I’m looking for something to sink my teeth into—as a reader and as a writer.

Daily publishing doesn’t leave much time for reflection, but here’s what I think I’ve learned this month:


  • Writing takes time—but not as much time as I think it does.
  • I can’t predict what’s going to work. I had several topics picked out that I was really excited to write about—but version after version of a draft fell flat, and I lost interest. I also had several structures picked out that I was excited to play with, but once I started writing, they didn’t work for me.
  • I abandon pieces of writing like I abandon books—profligately.
  • I have gotten a little more comfortable with imperfection. At some point each day, I had to publish something. Something had to be in a finished enough state to share. If there was something to sink my teeth into, I could let it go out into the world.
  • A month given over to writing means a lot less reading. To be most content and productive as a reader and a writer, I need a balance of both.
  • I tend to start Slices by brainstorming content, but I’m finding that starting with structure or a craft choice is often more productive. Often, content I don’t feel is quite worthy of my time as a writer becomes something worthwhile through craft.
  • Structures and formats are incredibly generative for me.
  • Comments really matter. Connections and encouragement keep me going. I have dedicated readers who visit my blog every day and read my words—even though they don’t have to. That’s incredible to me.
  • Writing every day makes me more present in my daily life. My OLW last year was present. My OLW this year is moments. Writing is a way to practice both.
  • Mentor texts matter too. Some of my favorite pieces this month were inspired by other slices. I never could have written those pieces without the writing of others.
  • If I show up, something is going to happen. This is a lesson I have to learn again and again as a writer: trust the process. Maybe someday this will sink in?






16 responses to “What I Think I Learned: Slice of Life 31/31 #sol16”

  1. Carol T Avatar
    Carol T

    “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with imperfection” – that resonated with me. Like the Nike ads – just do it. I agree that reading, and other activities, were put aside in order to complete this challenge.

  2. margaretsmn Avatar

    My OLW is present this year, and this writing daily helps me be present. Today on my blog, I borrowed another form from you, the two word list poem. Crazy me, I’m going to try to write a poem every day in April. Yes, nuts!

  3. Joanne Toft Avatar

    I like your phrase – if I show up something will happen. – I feel the same way! I won’t improve my writing unless I write! Happy Writing!

  4. LSquared Avatar

    Great distillation from your month long writing. What resonates with me the most is that “comments matter.” I see more clearly how positive feedback from me is necessary to the literary life of my students.
    And I valued the insight into my writing that some offered here.

  5. Linda Baie Avatar

    Being present to the task, ours while writing the posts, and then reading theirs and commenting takes quite a lot of concentration, and energy too. Your posts are always thought-filled to me, Elisabeth, and I’ve read your reading ones for a long time. Congratulations for taking this challenge, and also taking what you needed from others in order to feel like it’s a learning experience.

  6. Tara Smith Avatar

    That last one…so true for writing, and for life.

  7. Shari Daniels Avatar

    Oh my gosh, Elisabeth, I could use your idea here to construct my own learnings, but I have to admit that I would probably add each of these learnings to my own list! That biggest worry of feeling what we produce each and every day is worth value, as a reader and a writer was my biggest fear. Although I only made it 20 days, thank you to your nudge to join this challenge, it was a huge accomplishment for me. Thank you. 🙂

  8. Melanie Roy Avatar
    Melanie Roy

    So many truths to these lessons you’ve learned! I agree that the comments really matter. I wasn’t prepared for how much that connection would mean to me.

  9. Akilah Avatar

    That last one is the truth. I hope that it sinks in for me one day, too. I’m so glad you did this and shared it with us. Thank you.

  10. […] Ellington wrote a list of learning that included […]

  11. Glenda Funk Avatar

    I love this list. Yes, comments matter, and that’s a real area of disappointment for me. Not everyone reciprocates, and many have such established blogging cliques to which they are committed. I had to find peace w/ the idea that I’m writing for my own benefit first and foremost, that people read and don’t comment, that I have no right to expect anything from anyone but myself. I found your blog late in the challenge, but I like your writing style very much and found the posts I read captivating.

  12. readingtothecore Avatar

    I feel like I could have written your list of reflections. Getting comfortable with imperfection has gotten easier, but I confess the realization that I don’t have to write any blog posts this weekend is a huge relief! I’m looking forward to reading a book and visiting blogs I didn’t get to visit. All that being said, I’ll hold on to the habit of trying to be more present (my OLW for this year) for what life offers me each day.

  13. Michelle @litlearningzone Avatar

    Love your thoughts and reflections. I’m so happy that YOU joined in this challenge! I didn’t realize that you had never participated in the challenge … You had me fooled. 🙂 Congratulations on a month full of daily writing … where every word was cherished. See you on Tuesday!

  14. carriegelson Avatar

    So much of this resonates with me as well. Showing up. Less time to read . . . The importance of community. I visit here always , loved having a daily reason.

  15. Wilcox Carol Avatar

    I don’t think I knew you had never sliced every day until this year. You wrote some fabulous, fabulous slices and I totally enjoyed reading them. Sounds like you learned some important lessons as a writer too. Are you going to try writing every day for poetry month?

  16. […] reflection on what I learned in a month of daily […]

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