Many of us are gearing up for the March Slice of Life Challenge that starts on Friday. (Friday!!! ALREADY?? YIKES!!) For 31 days, I’ll join 300+ other teacher/bloggers in crafting and publishing a daily Slice of Life, a short narrative capturing a moment, an image, a feeling, an experience.
I’ve already unearthed my writer’s notebook, which, unusually, has been dormant for months. Following some brilliant advice from Michelle at Literacy Learning Zone, I’ll create 31 blank blog posts before Friday with the Slice of Life title, hashtag, and number of the post.
And before Friday, I’ll create a new document called Slice Ideas 2019, which I’ll use to collect writing seeds throughout the month. My Ideas file is my own best hack to manage the challenge. I keep it open as I read and comment on other people’s slices, copying links to posts I’ll use as inspiration. Whenever I think of a nugget that might turn into a slice, I jot it here. I draft bits and pieces here that later get copied into posts and published. I usually generate many more ideas than I actually fully draft and publish, and I need to remind myself of that every year towards the end of February when I feel the usual trepidation: will I actually have anything to write about for 31 days? My Ideas file assures me that I will.
But my own best piece of advice for making it through the Slice challenge isn’t about writing slices at all. It’s about commenting.
Comments are the heart and soul of the challenge. I’ll be honest: as much as I value the writing part of the challenge to help me grow as a writer and as a teacher of writing, it’s the community that keeps me coming back to slicing year after year. And comments are where the writing community is built.
There is something so powerful about being read, about being seen, heard, felt by readers. One thoughtful comment can be enough to inspire a hesitant writer to come back the next day and write again. Comments help us grow as writers because they point out the strengths in our writing. They help us see potential and power that we might not have even noticed in our own words and ideas. They plant seeds for future pieces of writing. They help us feel less alone because they point out that we’re all in this together, struggling each day to figure out how to write.
And there is something equally powerful in reading, in seeing, hearing, feeling other pieces of writing. I am already excited about the amazing pieces of writing I know I will read in March. I will be moved, challenged, encouraged, provoked, comforted, surprised, and so much more by the pieces I read. There will be a handful of pieces that I will still remember a year or more later. There will be a handful of pieces that change me–as a writer, a reader, a thinker, a teacher. I comment prolifically during March as a way to be generous and support other writers–but also as a way to be selfish and support myself and my writing. Other people’s writing gives me ideas for my work. I collect writing seeds as I comment, bookmarking inspirational posts, borrowing topics, questions, ideas, insights, formats that I can use to craft pieces. I borrow from one writer, and then another writer borrows from me, and over the month, a tapestry of writing is created across this community of 300+ teachers, and mine is only one part of that tapestry.
So that’s my best advice for making it through March: make time not just to write your own slices but to comment frequently, even prolifically, on other slices. All of our writing will be stronger and better and richer as a result.