Dear New Slicer: Slice of Life #sol18 2/31

Dear New Slicer,

I’m so glad you’ve joined the March Slice of Life Story Challenge! Your first posts yesterday gave me energy and inspiration—and also reminded me that newbie and veteran Slicers alike share the same trepidation at the beginning of March.

Where will the ideas come from? Do I really have 31 different pieces of writing in me this month? 31 different pieces of published writing?

And where will the time come from? Most days I just barely manage to meet my responsibilities at home and work and still have a tiny sliver of time for myself (most days). Where is the time for daily writing and publishing and commenting to come from?

Here are some ideas for managing the challenge:

Keep a writer’s notebook. I may lose ideas the rest of the year, but in March, no topic, no phrase, no hint for a potential piece of writing slips through my fingers because my notebook is always nearby and usually open.

Write in your head. The time I normally spend in my head formulating to-do lists or tinkering with my lesson plans becomes writing time in March. I look for ideas and think up sentences as I drive to work, exercise, shower.

Set the timer. Just five minutes of quick writing can uncover multiple potential pieces. Thirty-one days of published writing also requires some haste. I can spend hours tinkering over a blog post, but sometimes I need to give myself ten minutes to finish a slice and hit publish.

Write the night before. If you’re really anxious about time and deadlines, try drafting tomorrow’s slice tonight.

Seek mentor texts. Read other slices not just to comment but as inspirational mentor texts. I am a liberal borrower of topics and structures from other bloggers.

Save mentor texts. I prefer to keep everything handy in one document. At the beginning of the month, I create a new Slice Ideas document. I keep it open as I comment on Slices each morning and copy and paste links to pieces that might inspire my own writing.  But you might prefer a Pinterest board like Michelle’s or a padlet like Christie’s. (Or all three!)

Think format. I’ve found that borrowing formats from other slicers is even more productive for me as a writer than borrowing topics. Currently is a fun format to try, and I started my challenge this year with Fran’s Since Last March.

Go micro. Try micropoetry or six-word memoirs.

Try something new. A list, a photo slice, a collection of questions, snippets of dialogue overheard during the day. A found poem. A book spine poem.

Save it for a rainy day. By week two, I try to have several drafts of potential slices started in my notebook or on my computer. On a really busy or really bad day, it’s comforting to know that I only need to add a conclusion or do a little editing to have a slice ready to go.

Write about writing. Try a March Manifesto, a description of the place you write, an exploration of why you write, a reflection on your process, a post about when you slice, or even a post about having nothing to write.

Write somewhere new. Each year I get a couple of slices out of observation or description pieces where I sit in a new place and jot down what I see and hear.

Be here in this moment. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we think about 31 days of writing. Stay here in this moment, this day. For today, you only need to write today’s slice. One slice. Not thirty-one.

Happy slicing!






27 responses to “Dear New Slicer: Slice of Life #sol18 2/31”

  1. Sharon Gubser Avatar
    Sharon Gubser

    Loved your post! As a newbie to this, I appreciate the tips.

  2. Ellen Avatar

    Great advice and ideas – and your writing is brilliantly clear and encouraging. I will return to this when I get stuck. Thank you!

  3. Lisa Keeler Avatar

    This is such a great idea. And all of the bits and pieces and tips and tricks I learned over the first four years are right here in your letter. I shared your post with a colleague who is participating for the first time.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks for sharing the post with your colleague! I am so glad you’ve persuaded a colleague to participate too.

  4. arjeha Avatar

    A great list for newbies as well as seasoned slicers.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I definitely wrote the post partly for myself too!

  5. mrsday75 Avatar

    These are awesome ideas for all of us!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m pretty sure I’ll be returning to my own post for inspiration and ideas at some point this month too.

  6. kathyschuitema Avatar

    Thank you for sharing these ideas! I’ve used a couple, but will make use of more of them. Even though I’m not a new slicer, I still feel inexperienced sometimes. I would have loved your letter when I was a true newbie!

  7. dmsherriff Avatar

    Thank you! I’ve been slicing since April and am ending my first year with the challenge! I appreciate your simple and thoughtful tips! Thanks for putting them out there for all to see!

  8. mkrueger Avatar

    THANK YOU! I needed this. This is my second year, but I still struggle with ideas. Can’t wait to try one of these out. Think I’ll do the “Since Last March” one today!

  9. Michelle @litlearningzone Avatar
    Michelle @litlearningzone

    Bravo for creating your own compilation of ideas to manage this challenge — updated and fresh! I love it! I struggle with the time element as well, but somehow … some things slides to the side (usually a quick stop at Pinterest or Twitter) and writing takes precedence. I also write in my head throughout the day … that notebook is essential to capturing my words! (And if I don’t write it down, I always think: I said that way better early …)

    Yes to writing the night before, using mentor texts, and this: “Be here in this moment. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we think about 31 days of writing. Stay here in this moment, this day. For today, you only need to write today’s slice. One slice. Not thirty-one.” I treasure this one! Thank you for this list! Saving it now to that Pinterest board! 🙂

  10. Akilah Avatar

    Writing the night before is how I finished the challenge last time. Since I signed up at the very last minute (on March 1), I am off my game/schedule, but I plan to correct that later today. Great list!

  11. Stacey Shubitz Avatar

    So much wonderful advice, Elisabeth! Thanks for creating this collection of tips!

  12. cvarsalona Avatar

    Wonderful ideas from you, Elisabeth. I am glad that I am catching up with you.

  13. margaretsmn Avatar

    A great list of ideas and advice. I will be taking it to heart. The trouble comes in when there is no time to read all the amazing slices being written. I can remember a March day a few years ago when we had an unexpected ice storm. The gift of a day to read slices was wonderful.

  14. Lisa Corbett Avatar

    I do a few of these things: Write in my head and plan ahead. Mostly I love the challenge of coming up with something RIGHT NOW!

  15. Ms Victor Reads Avatar

    I love this slice and all the ideas you have given me! I am definitely sharing this with my third grade slicers too. Thanks for sharing! #togetherwearebetter

  16. Leigh Anne Eck Avatar
    Leigh Anne Eck

    There’s so many wonderful things in this slice, but I think the best advice is that “for today, you only need to write today’s slice. One slice. Not thirty-one!”

  17. standingtall47 Avatar

    As a first time slicer this is just what I needed. Thank you!

  18. carwilc Avatar

    I’m not a new slicer, but I am definitely using some of these ideas. I love the idea of keeping track of different formats to try. We are only two days in and I have seen so many different things I could try, but I won’t remember them if I don’t somehow track them. And I need some creative new ideas.

  19. svalter Avatar

    I love this slice because it captures everything I feel about March and somehow forget the other eleven months out of the year. Thanks for the inspiration–I’m going to have to revisit this down the road to keep up the momentum from March. 🙂

  20. Caoimhe Buckley Avatar

    So many great ideas thank you! I could share those with my class too!

  21. Trina Haase Avatar
    Trina Haase

    As a new slicer, intimidated and still nervous, I really appreciate your letters and treasure trove of ideas. Thank you for sharing! I am bookmarking this post!

  22. Cathy Avatar

    I saw the title of this earlier, “Dear New Slicer,” and thought it might not be for me. Then I stopped by Caoimhe’s blog, and she referenced your post in a poem she wrote. I had to stop by to check out all of your suggestions and so glad I did. This will certainly come in handy in the days to come. Thanks, Elisabeth!! I hope you don’t mind if I add it to my Pinterest Slice of Life board for reference.

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