10 Takeaways from a Month of Slicing: Slice of Life #sol18 31/31

Thanks to one of my favorite teacher bloggers, Melanie Meehan, for the idea for this post. I am sure you will laugh to see that “less is more’ is also one of my takeaways when you see how long this post is.

I need to stop using time as an excuse. I have the time to do the things I want to do. In December, I started reading and writing in the mornings before work. In January, I added yoga. For January and February, I read, wrote, and practiced yoga before I even got out of my pjs every morning. I was never late for work. I didn’t even wake up especially early. Somehow the time was there. In March, I added slicing—reading them, writing them, and commenting on them. I am not a ten-minute-dash-off-a-slice writer. I am slow. But still, I had time. For March, I read, wrote, practiced yoga, AND Sliced—all before work most days. My blog lay sadly neglected for months before March because “I don’t have time to blog anymore.” But I do. I really do.

It’s all about the list. Maybe it’s a sign of how much my attention has deteriorated as a result of device dependence, but I was so happy every time I clicked on a post and it turned out to be a list. Something about a list is so easy to read and digest. But more than that, something about a list invites readers in, gives us a place to enter and play too.

Three comments a day aren’t enough. I didn’t intend to leave 20+ comments a day this month, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. It was too much fun to read and leave a note for all of these different writers, and it felt like a tangible way to give back to this community that means so much to me in March. It doesn’t take as much time to read and comment on 20+ posts as you might think. I hope more Slicers will take on a larger commenting challenge next year (5 or 10 comments a day maybe?), because the comments create the community. There are still too many Slicers who get just one or two comments on their posts. The undercommented blog post makes me sad.

Less is more. It’s ironic: I far prefer reading short, but I also almost always tend to write long. I try to be succinct, I really do. I definitely tended to skim longer slices myself or even click off to another slice because I just couldn’t commit to reading a very long story. Even though I myself published more than one 1000-word+ post this month. It’s a growth area for me. The art of writing SHORT.

It’s time to change my blog appearance. I didn’t want to spend valuable writing time messing with it this month, but every time I visited my own blog to respond to comments, the tiny font drove me crazy. In draft mode, the font is big and beautiful. Once published, it turns cramped and ugly like a newspaper. I apologize to all my readers who suffered through its hideous style.

I never get tired of reading slices about morning routines or writing processes. My very favorite slices to read combine the two: “here’s my morning routine about how I write a Slice.” I also love a metaslice that analyzes the writing of a specific slice or meditates upon Slicing in general. I’m all over this last day of the month because there are so many reflection pieces along the lines of “what I learned in a month of Slicing.” I could literally read that post every day of the month: “what I learned in one day of slicing”; “what I learned in two days of slicing”; etc. You get the idea. I also love writing posts about morning routines and writing processes and have to limit myself as a writer because otherwise, I would literally write about mornings and writing every single day of the month.

Not enough people wrote about cats this month! There were plenty of posts about dogs, and I enjoyed reading them. But I really want to read about cats. Because cats are sooooo much more interesting than dogs. (Which I believe to be a verifiable, purely objective fact. It takes nothing away from dogs if we all agree to admit that they simply aren’t as interesting as cats.) If you had a cat in your teaser or title, you were guaranteed a visit from me. Also, if you write about your cat, please please include a photo. Or 12. Because cats are also pretty! (I used to tell my son that cats were a unique species because there is no such thing as an ugly cat, but the Internet sadly makes short work of that one. There really ARE ugly cats. But not many. And even the ugly ones are kind of cute.) (This is Zorro, who is not an ugly cat, in a rare moment of repose.)

zorro cat

Something about March makes me feel like it’s ok to write poetry AND expect other people to read it and even enjoy it! I would never EVER presume to do this the rest of the year. There are no poems or even poemish things in my writer’s notebook from April to February. And then along comes March and it’s suddenly full of poemish things. So yes, writing poetry in April might be a challenge I commit to this year. Since there is something in me that seems to want to write a poem.

Slicing feels like permission to play and experiment and to have half-formed thoughts. I think Slicing encapsulates the best things about blogging—things I forget and get away from when I blog for the rest of the year. It’s ok to write to discover, to write quickly, to write about questions with no real answers, to write short, to write really really tiny (like I ever do that. I even turn the six-word memoir into a longer piece!), to write personal, to write half-baked thoughts that really need a little more cooking time.

I really love comments. In March, I catch myself checking my blog repeatedly throughout the day. Do I have any new comments? Exhilaration when I do. Mild disappointment when I don’t. I always tell myself that writers should write and publish no matter what. It should be about growing as a writer, right? We should be willing to do it even without readers, right? There are purely private types of writing that exist for self-expression and self-growth and aren’t meant to be shared, but blogging isn’t one of those types. Blogging needs an audience. Writers need readers. So. Deep thanks to all who read my blog this month and commented. I was excited to read every single word you left for me this month.


I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do next month to keep writing, but I do know that I will be back tomorrow with a very special post that I’ve been working on all month: 31 Favorite Slices, a collection of some of the very best slices I read over the month.








44 responses to “10 Takeaways from a Month of Slicing: Slice of Life #sol18 31/31”

  1. persistenceandpedagogy Avatar

    Yes to everything here. I write long – sigh. I love lists, and comments – I love comments. And I feel like I *owe* you a post or 12 about my crazy cats. I have 2 great cats – you need to meet them 😉 Thanks for all your support this month – all the thoughtfulness, all the ideas. Looking forward to Tuesdays – and poetry. I’m thinking about trying poetry, too.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I cannot believe you’ve been holding out on the cat posts! It’s time to write one. Or twelve. With photos! I hope you will try poetry. I am seriously thinking about diving in. I found Carol’s post so inspiring this morning. I have loved every day of reading your blog this month, so thank you. And you have to keep writing because selfishly I want to keep reading and being inspired!

  2. Juliana Ellington Avatar

    I can’t wait to read your post tomorrow! 31 favorite Slices!! I have enjoyed all your Slices, but I would have loved more cat slices, lol. You have 8 cats (or is it 25??), and that should have been good for 8 Slices!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It should keep you busy reading for awhile! I worried that people would start questioning my mental health if I kept writing about cats, but I did try to make sure they made some appearances in other posts. I could seriously write about them every day. Especially Chipotle!!

  3. tbreitweiser Avatar

    I also love the posts about writing process!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I wonder why they’re so fascinating? I just never get tired of reading them.

      1. tbreitweiser Avatar

        I am always hoping to pick up a tip to make my own process better!

  4. carwilc Avatar

    It seems like we are having many of the same thoughts. I need to change the look of my blog. I write better in the morning. I like reading shorter slices, but I tend to write longer ones. I am concerned about how few comments some people write (and more concerned about people who said they were going to write every day this month, but not slice, because they didn’t want to have to write comments to other people- this feels really selfish to me. I am sad about people who don’t get many comments, especially new bloggers. I don’t think five to ten comments a day is unreasonable. I usually did about twenty also. Can’t wait to see your April slices- I think I’m going to try poetry, but not sure I can pull that off every month!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I am also sad for those dedicated bloggers who are really writing good stuff but not finding their audience. Next year, I might try a weekly feature where I highlight a deserving blog that isn’t finding its audience. I’d like to find some other ways to amplify the voices of new bloggers. With comments, I get being busy, I really do. But if you and I can find the time and energy to leave all those comments, so can most other people! And the commenting requirement for slicing is so very low. Leaving three comments for other bloggers really doesn’t have to take more than five minutes. It certainly could take more time, but you can do it in five if really pressed. So I find it hard to believe that those five minutes at the very least can’t be found. I felt so inspired by your post today about poetry. I think I’m in.

  5. Trina Haase Avatar
    Trina Haase

    Yes! Yes! Yes to your list! There are many things I could relate to, including finding the time to write. I don’t know how I will continue in writing either, but I am happy that I follow you as a writer! I cannot wait to read your post tomorrow!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Well you have to keep writing because I want to keep reading and being inspired by your words! Luckily, there are so many riches in your blog from this month that I should be able to go back and find quite a bit I need to reread and sit with further.

      1. Trina Haase Avatar
        Trina Haase

        This is such a sweet comment – it is truly humbling. Thank you SO much for it!

  6. Glenda M. Funk Avatar

    I wish I’d kept a list of my favorite posts. Maybe in two years. I’ll definitely write more about my cat, who right now is lounging on the couch w/ a wary eye on Snug. They are not yet bonding.
    It’s okay to write long posts, Elisabeth. You have offered a plethora of helpful posts for teachers, and those need lots of words. I, too, write long posts. I’m not a six-word person.
    Yes, three comments is not enough. I set a goal of ten per day and realized that’s not enough. I bumped that up to twenty a day after reading your post about commenting more. Next year, actually beginning Tuesday, I’m setting a goal of twenty-five. I can do it if I start early and set aside lunch for commenting on Tuesday’s.
    I look forward to your increased blogging April through February! There is the A to Z challenge that starts tomorrow!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I love your goal of 25 comments and think I will join you. I was discouraged looking through the link-up on the last day when I saw how very many blogs I never visited once this month. I know there is so much good reading and inspiring thinking waiting in these blogs I haven’t gotten to yet. Thanks for the encouragement and support when it comes to writing long posts. You are right: it really is okay to write how I write and think. Are you doing the A to Z challenge? I was so intrigued by Carol’s approach to poetry month that I think I am going to shadow her through the month, if she doesn’t mind. And I am very happy to hear that I have more Hero posts to look forward to. She’s a beauty.

  7. mschiubookawrites Avatar

    I love your lists, and the font size does not bother me! I agree about three comments not being enough. The more comments I received, the more I wanted to read and comment to pay it forward. Plus, it gave me valuable practice in how best to respond to my students’ writing. Win, win!!! Thank you for your encouragement throughout this process!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think that’s why I feel so passionate about leaving lots of comments for others: I am blessed to receive many myself, and it only seems right to spread the wealth! I love the connection you make between the comments we leave on posts and how we might respond to our students’ writing. I might have to write a post about this!

  8. jennysrich Avatar

    I agree about length. I don’t mind reading lengthier blogs but, it has to be a topic that interests me. Pet blogs seem to fit that bill. There is nothing more entertaining than reading about the foolish behavior of pets!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I never met a long pet blog post I didn’t love! I love a really long teaching or writing reflection post as well. With most other topics, though, my attention span is pretty short.

  9. Melanie Meehan Avatar

    I didn’t even read the teaser until I started reading the post! I love this! You’re hard on yourself, and maybe it should be eloquent instead of long-winded. Your reflection about having time is great. We do have time for the things that matter to us. That’s an amazing thing, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to tomorrow!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh, “eloquent”! I like that. Yes: we do have time for the things that matter to us. Which makes me think about how often I say I don’t have time for things that should matter to me. What’s going on with that? I need to do more thinking and reflecting there.

  10. readingteachsu Avatar

    So many things to comment on. I too am thinking about poetry even though I never write it or even read it that often. As you read in my slice it’s fascinating right now. Mostly because of your other favorite thing bloggers metablogging. Absolutely my favorite. Sadly I don’t have a cat but I’d love to hear more about Chipotle or Zorro. I 💯 agree about the reading and commenting. So important. I have some ideas tucked away from thinking I did in response to other’s writing. Looking forward to tomorrow’s blog and many more to come.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Metablogging! Yes! Love it so much and have no idea why, but it’s instant clickbait for me. I never write poetry either but think it might be an interesting challenge for April. It would certainly get me WELL out of my comfort zone! I can’t wait to read more of your posts. Your blog is a newer discovery for me.

  11. Michelle Haseltine Avatar

    I’m obsessed with reading reflections on this month. It’s felt different to me and I’m still processing it. I really enjoy your post and how you reflected. Thank you!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m so curious about how it was different for you this year! I hope you’ll write about that (if you haven’t already; I’m behind on reading and commenting this weekend so have to catch up with my favorite blogs over the next couple of days).

  12. Jen Driggers Avatar

    I’m totally with you about the lists, less is more, and the reflections. I love reading all of those! I’ve learned that I’m a nervous commenter. I easily read more than 20 posts a day but didn’t always leave comments because I felt like I didn’t have something good to say or other people commenting with what I would’ve said. I should’ve just commented anyway. I’m going to be better about this next year! Can’t wait to read your post tomorrow. What a great idea!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Nervous commenting! That’s one I hadn’t thought about. I’m working on a post about commenting best practices (that I probably won’t publish til next year–talk about planning ahead!!) and I am going to have to take nervous commenting into account and write about that! Thank you for the idea.

  13. margaretsmn Avatar

    Zorro and Mimi could be related. But Mimi is mean. She only likes me and that’s when she’s in the mood. I love coming to your space, so you better keep at it.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      My first tuxedo, Wilhemina, who now lives with my mom, is also mean. She hates most things and most people, and even when she tolerates you, she’s just as likely to bite and draw blood as purr and be sweet. She is full of personality, though. Zorro is a bit dippy, but he’s such a goodhearted animal.

  14. blkdrama Avatar

    I loved your list Elizabeth. I need to write one too. Maybe that’s a Tuesday Slice… What a rich excuse to be even more productive than usual 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes to a Tuesday Slice list! I love reading them and hope to read yours!

  15. Amanda Burns Regan Avatar
    Amanda Burns Regan

    I relate to so much that you have shared here. (And you’re right. Cats are more interesting!) I look forward to reading more of your writing in the future. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yay! Another vote for cats!

  16. arjeha Avatar

    I, too, like lists. Yes, they are the perfect format for when we can’t think of something to write about, but they are also so insightful telling us so much more about the writer than a narrative can. I am so glad I began reading your posts. i definitely agree with your cat comments. Thank you also for reading my posts. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      You’re right: lists are a good format for when we aren’t sure what to write but also very insightful. I have actually been surprised this month by just how insightful lists are and how much more I have learned about a writer from reading a list than a narrative. I knew you’d agree about cats!

  17. J Koval Avatar

    I totally feel the same way about many of the things you’ve mentioned! I tried to comment on more than 3 blogs each day during this year’s challenge, because I agree that 3 isn’t enough. Most days I probably commented on 5 or 6, sometimes more. Today I’m going crazy with reading all the reflection blogs…I’ve lost count on how many I’ve commented on. I hope to read more of your blog in the future! 🙂 ~JudyK

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thank you! Once I start reading and commenting, it’s so hard to stop. Also, it’s a great way to put off doing my own writing! When I don’t know what to write, I just read a few more slices searching for inspiration and ideas. Aren’t the reflection blogs fun?

  18. Tamara Jaimes Avatar
    Tamara Jaimes

    I appreciate your long posts because you always make me think, and you’re passionate about some of the very same things I am passionate about. Your plea for cat posts made me laugh. I’ve definitely learned that I need to be more concise in my writing–and not for the first time in my life I’m learning this lesson.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh no, Tamara. I do not think you should be more concise. You use words beautifully and well and never use too many of them. I love your blog: literally every time I visited, I left itching to write because you gave me so much to think about and ponder.

  19. Akilah Avatar

    The poetry thing is funny, especially since April is National Poetry Month.

    Part of why I do this challenge is to remind myself that I can make time for something if I want to, so I appreciate you pointing that out.

    I’m looking forward to your 31 slices list! Also, I agree re: lists just as a general rule.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Seriously! I complain all the time about how I have no time, I’m so busy, blah blah blah, and yet somehow I find an extra hour or two or sometimes THREE for this challenge in March. Of course it does mean that other things suffer or get neglected. But I do think the big lesson is that time is a little more stretchy than I like to think it is.

  20. amyjuengst Avatar

    I love lists, poetry and cats! But I already knew that before reading your slice. Your posts serve as such idea generators for me. My takeaway; I learned to be brave enough to post everyday even when what I wanted to say was not perfectly executed. Molly, my cat, let me know when it was time to let go of my slice and press “publish.” She’d give me one of those “enough all ready” looks that cats give, narrowed eyes and turned back ears. Cats are wise (and demanding).

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Your blog was an idea generator for me too. I really liked a point that Melanie made in her list of takeaways about the laws of magnetism: we are attracted to writers with similar styles, passions, posting habits. That’s a very big takeaway for you to leave the month with, and one that’s a struggle to me and that’s very much helped by blogging and by this warm and welcoming Slice community. I don’t think my cats ever wanted me to stop writing and commenting since it meant a still lap for napping.

  21. jarhartz Avatar

    So glad you sliced this month. Your reflection has me missing the energy and community. Looking to April as a blogging rebirth of sorts!

  22. Denise Krebs Avatar
    Denise Krebs

    Elisabeth, lovely post that helps the reader really get to know you. I loved that you cover all the topics, from length, content, appearance of the print on the page, time and plans for the future and more. It gives me an idea. I did write one list this month, and I agree, I like lists too. I believe you did decide on your next challenge as I was following you to Glenda’s post today and she mentioned the EthicalELA poem challenge. I signed up too. I will see you there.

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