How Have You Changed as a Slicer?: Slice of Life #sol18 30/31

This is my third year Slicing every day in March. Just like last year, I dithered and hesitated in the days leading up to March 1. Was I really going to do it? Did I have time? More importantly, did I have energy? I thought up plenty of excuses. But in the end, of course, I had to join in—as I expect I will from now on, hopefully without the dithering and hesitating.

In previous years, I’ve been a planner, but this year I followed my natural inclination as a writer and pantsed my way through the challenge. I rarely knew what I was going to write about when I sat down to start writing. I dutifully kept an ideas file this year but I almost never used it. I settled into my morning routine very early in the month: read through some other slices, commenting and fishing for my own slice; find a format or structure or idea to wonder or wander my way through; do some writing.

In previous years, I worried about Slicing when I wasn’t Slicing, but this year, I had more trust in my process. Before, I felt like I needed to think about Slicing all the time in order to be sure I’d have something to write about the next day. As soon as one slice was published, I started searching for the next one, turning over everything that happened to me in a day to see if that moment was the slice to save and rejecting nearly everything as not interesting enough.  I worried that I would somehow skip a day. I worried that I only thought I clicked “publish” but actually clicked “save.” I worried—a lot—that I would run out of things to say. None of those things happened in Year 1 or Year 2, and they didn’t happen in Year 3 either.

In previous years, I wrote and published whenever I could, but this year, I was strictly a morning slicer. I’m not an early morning slicer like some, though I do start reading, thinking, and writing early in the morning. But most of my slices were published by 9:30 a.m. The one day I didn’t hit publish til nearly noon was also the day of my blog’s lowest number of views and comments, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Morning slicing really is better if you want to catch your readers.

In previous years, I’ve relied heavily on sentence stems and “save it for a rainy day” ideas like book spine poetry and Currently, but this year, I’ve hardly used those formats at all. They’re in my ideas file, and I just knew I would need to pull them out by Week 3, but somehow, I kept finding other things to write.

In previous years, I’ve written a few slices inspired by other slices, but this year, most of my slices were written alongside someone else’s words. I found nearly all of my ideas and inspiration in other people’s slices and comments. Writing from other people’s words and ideas is one thing I think makes slicing so unique and creates such a strong community. I love to trace a writing seed as it travels from blog to blog and grows into quite different pieces of writing.

In previous years, I’ve questioned whether a slice was truly a slice, but this year, I happily wrote and published plenty of non-slicey slices. I tried to be mindful to include a story of some sort in my advice and list posts, but I’m probably stretching the definition of narrative in a few.

In previous years, I discovered that I loved reading and writing lists but I only allowed myself to write lists a few times. (So many self-imposed rules for no reason!) This year, I wrote most of my slices as lists, even the ones that don’t call themselves lists. Next year, I might do 31 days of list slices!

In previous years, the slices I enjoyed writing the most were also the ones that got the most views and comments. This year, my very favorite slice got the least number of views and comments! Chipotle, it turns out that you really aren’t for everyone!

chipotle and smudge

In previous years, I’ve written mostly about and from my personal life, but this year, especially after the first week, I wrote as often about teaching, reading, and writing. Since those are the things I spend my time doing and thinking about, it’s perhaps not surprising that most of my slices came to me much more easily this month.

In previous years, I would have wanted this list of observations to come with some kind of ah-ha moment before I considered it adequate, but this year, I’m content simply making observations. I’m not sure what, if anything, any of this means about my writing or about me as a writer, and next year, it may all be different once again.

How have you changed from year to year as a slicer? How have you grown just over the past month of Slicing?








37 responses to “How Have You Changed as a Slicer?: Slice of Life #sol18 30/31”

  1. glenda funk Avatar
    glenda funk

    Most days I write of an evening and schedule my post. I’m in MST, which has an impact on pageviews in one waits to post late. I set a commenting goal of double digits but realized it was too low. I didn’t use any writing formulas and did restrain myself from writing about politics, which I enjoy doing as a response to literature I’m teaching. I know those posts are for me and get few readers. I did take some chances w/ my writing when I wrote a poem. I did work on writing humorous posts, which I don’t normally do. My writing often took a direction I didn’t expect. My least popular posts, I think, were focused on lessons I’d taught. For example, my “Six Song Country Mashup” post yesterday didn’t resonate, although it is about a fabulous lesson.

    Last year I stopped posting mid-month because I went to Europ. Next year I’ll interrupt my blogging because I’m going to China. This is my fourth year in the challenge.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I wish I could be organized to write in the evening and schedule the post. I don’t usually track my blog’s stats, but I do find it interesting to see what gets the most and least views in March. It’s rarely the posts I would expect. Commenting was one of the great pleasures of Slicing this year for me. I didn’t find it at all burdensome or even overly time-consuming to do 20+ comments a day and will continue that next year. I am very glad I have officially followed your blog now and won’t miss any posts!

  2. arjeha Avatar

    Glad your were here and I checked out your posts. I have enjoyed them. I had to smile at your first point because in the years I have been doing this I haven’t really planned anything, except the quilt show post which happen every March. It is interesting to see how each slicer attacks this challenge differently.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I am ordinarily not a planner as a writer, so I have no idea why I have always approached Slicing differently and thought I needed a plan. So glad to know the quilt show posts are an annual feature! They were such a highlight for me this month.

  3. Ms Victor Reads Avatar

    I loved reading your reflections. I am in my fourth year of slicing and as always break during March stressed me. I think this year my slices were shorter (I would have to check if that is true). I used less “formats”, never plan, and have not consulted my idea list at all- not sure what that says about me.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Isn’t it interesting that we have an ideas list and haven’t needed/wanted to consult it? I wonder if I will even make one next year? Maybe it really isn’t necessary. I found that when I did go back to look at the list, the impulse to write that particular piece had gone, so perhaps it’s better to strike while the iron is hot.

  4. karenszymusiak Avatar

    This is a great list! Many were similar to my experiences. I need to be a morning writer. As the day goes on, my brain gets muddled and I just can’t think as clearly as I can in the morning. My fear of not having anything to say lessened as the month went on. I think it would be interesting if we all did this kind of reflection. What if we looked at our month of slices like a portfolio. What would we learn about ourselves as a writer. Thanks for writing this post. Great insights!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I love this idea of a collection of slices as a portfolio and what it says about us as writers. I meant to go back and skim through my posts and see what I had truly written about, but I didn’t. Still, I think another later of reflection could be added if I thought a little more deeply about what I did and didn’t choose to write about this month.

  5. aggiekesler Avatar

    What a thoughtful, reflective slice. You have got me thinking about how I’ve changed in my 8 years on the challenge…hmmm…maybe I’ll write about it for Day 31’s slice! 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      8 years! That’s amazing. I remember that I used to see all the slices pop up in my feed during March but I thought I couldn’t possibly write and publish a blog post every day for a month.

      1. aggiekesler Avatar

        I used to think that, too…but then I tried it and could do it!

  6. barbara suter Avatar

    Enjoyed your reflective Slice today. I’d already written about My Writing Routine for an earlier slice, so I was able to compare myself to you and other commenters. I did not, however, reflect on how my month as a writer changed or didn’t change this year. I would have to say I had less anxiety; tried a few new things; hit a low spot as I always do; and mostly enjoyed reading how creative everyone is. This is an amazing and inspiring community of writers. So grateful.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ah, the inevitable low spot! I love reading about writing routines. So fascinating. It was a welcome surprise this year to feel less anxiety and worry about where the next slice would come from and simply be able to trust that something would come!

  7. Trina Haase Avatar
    Trina Haase

    I love reading your refections on change this year as a slicer. I was really surprised that this is only your third year doing it. I would have thought that you have participated since the beginning! I have really liked every single slice I have read of yours this year, and it has been fun how your slices have revealed who you are, especially as a reader, writer, and teacher…

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Trina. I think I loved every single piece from your blog this month. As I was looking through my list of favorite slices that I’d been collecting all months for my bonus slice, I found that I had bookmarked 6 of your slices!

      1. Trina Haase Avatar
        Trina Haase

        That’s wonderful and it surprises me. Thank you, thank you for sharing that with me!

  8. Connie Lindsey Avatar

    Thank you for this post. As a first year slicer, I found myself whispering “yes…yes..that’s me” as I read about the questions you asked yourself and the wondering if you/I had written a “real” slice. I am SO thankful that I’ve managed to stay the course all month!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think I worry about that question–“have I written a real slice?”–at least half the month! In previous years, I have restricted my writing to what I consider a true slice, but this year I wrote what I felt like each day and hoped it was slicey enough!

  9. Terje Avatar

    I loved reading your reflection. It’s so honest and thoughtful. I appreciate your comment on my reflection.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thank you! The end of the month reflection pieces are some of my favorites to read!

  10. readingteachsu Avatar

    This year is my 2nd year, last year I was thinking and planning a lot worried I couldn’t stretch through 31days. I wrote more slices that weren’t narrative and never wrote about my personal life. This year I wrote more narratives and like you in nonnarratives tried to include a story. I wrote in the late afternoon and published the next day working a day ahead, a few times I wrote a pair of blogs and published them on different days giving me some float room. I tried a poem. I liked a lot of other people’s techniques and wrote them down. I rarely used them. I ish I had read more of your slices. I will now.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I worried a lot the first two years I did the challenge too. It was nice this year to be a little more freeflowing with it and trust it would all work out. Very smart to write a pair of posts and publish them on different days. I do often work on a couple of pieces at a time so that on busy days, I at least have a start on something. I also liked a lot of different techniques and noted them but rarely used them. Maybe I will return to my list for slicing throughout the year this time?

  11. theapplesinmyorchard Avatar

    This is my second year as a slicer. I was much more comfortable this year and worried less about being judged by my writing. Luckily, I’ve never had a problem with a “block” or coming up with ideas for writing. I keep a draft folder of ideas, and like you, I rarely utilized them at all. I do have to say, I am less thrilled with SOL this year than last. Having blogged everyday (almost) for the entire last year, I am already questioning whether I will participate next year or not. I gave up a couple of my regular post formats – Silent Sunday – primarily, in which I post only photographs along a theme I pick to make sure I was writing for SOL. Those photo only posts are some of my most popular posts, and although popularity and numbers should not matter all that much, I do get satisfaction from knowing my posts were enjoyed. I am looking forward to returning to that format on Sunday. Thanks for asking!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      What do you think was the difference this year? One thing I heard a lot from other bloggers was that there wasn’t enough commenting and community built this year, perhaps a result of the very large group participating now. Your photos are incredible, and I am very much looking forward to following your bog and seeing your photos for the rest of the year.

      1. theapplesinmyorchard Avatar

        I haven’t heard from many other bloggers about this year, because frankly, I didn’t hear from many other bloggers at all. For me, there definitely wasn’t enough commenting. I did a survey of all my March posts and had 12 days with less than 3 comments. I had 2 days when no one commented at all! I know my posts are a little longer than most, but that is my writing style. I am trying to rein it in – so to speak. One person complained to me they did not see where to comment on my blog, so I looked into this. I signed out and looked at my blog as a stranger. The comment section was (to me) in a logical place – after the post – and I found it easily. So, I did not change the layout. I think it was a different crowd. I was hoping that being a group of educators I would be able to connect more, since many of my topics are on enrichment or educational reform or philosophy…..although, I tried to balance that with more general, and yes, humorous posts like the Cougar in the Coulee. I am very much on the fence about participating next year. I just did not feel like it matter that I was writing as part of a community or not……that I could have just done my “regular” posting and faired as well, but without the frustration. Thanks for asking and for your comments! I am grateful that you will follow my blog!

  12. wahooteacher Avatar

    Your slice made me think about my past and present slices. You’ve given me a lot to consider and I look forward to exploring this in my writer’s notebook!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Awesome! I am looking forward to spending a little more time in my writer’s notebook after this month and I know I still have a little more reflecting to do about what I’ve learned from others.

  13. freeyourmindwriting Avatar

    This is a perfect post for the conclusions of the month long challenge. Thank you for sharing your road map of writing lenses, as a first time slicer this was very helpful and very relatable.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I enjoyed your posts this month! I didn’t realize you were a first-time slicer. Hope you’ll join the challenge again next year!

      1. freeyourmindwriting Avatar

        Thanks, same here!

  14. Michelle @litlearningzone Avatar
    Michelle @litlearningzone

    I love that you take the time and reflect. I wasn’t as worried about writing slices, the stories were there every day. I like to write at night and post in the morning, but there were plenty of nights (like tonight) that my brain is just too tired to think and write; hence, why I am super impressed with your reflection!!!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I am so fried at night. I can’t imagine trying to write anything! I think I’d cry instead. You are especially good at noticing these little moments that others might overlook and then writing a strong piece from them. I also think about your creative use of formatting and use of white space in nearly every post I write (even if my post doesn’t end up doing anything interesting–I always wonder about whether I could, thanks to your example).

  15. margaretsmn Avatar

    I think so many of your realizations come from the daily practice and the confidence to move past the blank page. This year I never worried about getting my slice done. It became part of my day each day. I don’t even feel like it’s over. I really enjoyed reconnecting with you this month. Please keep blogging!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I am also glad we reconnected, and I am so grateful for the encouragement, Margaret. Your writing has really sustained me this month.

  16. Amanda Burns Regan Avatar
    Amanda Burns Regan

    Elisabeth, I have read many of your slices and find your writing to always be thoughtful and intelligent. This slice has inspired me to reflect on my own experiences this month. I particularly like your statement, “I would have wanted this list of observations to come with some kind of ah-ha moment before I considered it adequate, but this year, I’m content simply making observations.” I came to a similar conclusion this year. Sometimes the observations are enough. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I love that: “sometimes the observations are enough.” Yep! I know that I love that as a blog reader, perhaps because it gives me some space to do my own synthesizing and reflecting. I have gotten behind on commenting this week and am looking forward to catching up on your posts that I’ve missed.

  17. Akilah Avatar

    I love this! And I fully support a month full of lists. I am also open to joining you in that endeavor.

    I was trying to figure out my reflection post for this year, so I think I might try comparing this year to last.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: