My Best Piece of Advice for Making it Through the Slice of Life Challenge #sol19 2/26/19

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.






26 responses to “My Best Piece of Advice for Making it Through the Slice of Life Challenge #sol19 2/26/19”

  1. TammyB Avatar

    Great advice! I have the seeds written down but have not created the templates yet….It is on the list! Thanks for the reminder. I am looking forward to reading your posts.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I still need to get my templates done too. I keep reminding myself that I am running out of time! I really find it helpful to have them created and ready. I am sure it only saves a few seconds on the day itself but the feeling of mental preparedness it gives me is huge!

      1. TammyB Avatar

        Friday is quickly approaching!

      2. TammyB Avatar

        I am also kicking around the idea of having a theme around all my posts…not sure yet though

      3. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

        I have considered that too, but I worry I would struggle to stick to it. I have also wanted to do doing a slice in the form of a list each day, but again, worry I’d find it hard to stick to. Can’t wait to see what you decide to do!

  2. Leigh Anne Eck Avatar
    Leigh Anne Eck

    Yes, yes, and yes! I couldn’t say this any better, so I won’t! Looking forward to writing with you this month!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m looking forward to writing with you too! Your blog always inspires me.

  3. Akilah Avatar

    Yay, I’m so glad you’re participating again this year!

    Also, I read Michelle’s post every year and never take her advice, so one day I’ll learn, I think.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I also reread Michelle’s post every year. So much good advice there. Basically no other Slice advice post ever needs to be written because that’s the best. I can never manage to do all 31 templates at once, but if I can get 12 or 15 done before the challenge starts, that will help me.

  4. margaretsmn Avatar

    I love this: “over the month, a tapestry of writing is created across this community.” What a great way to describe the experience. Thanks for the push once again to get my posts set up ahead of time and to make a file of ideas. I am such a pantser with SOLC. One thing for certain is I always make a new friend. (like you!)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I also always make new friends that I continue connecting with all year long! It’s one of the great benefits of slicing!

  5. Stacey Shubitz Avatar

    Commenting is truly the heart of the challenge, which makes this post so important. Thanks for sharing your insight, Elisabeth.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The more times I’ve done the challenge, the more I realize it’s all about comments. I wish I’d written here about the importance of responding to the comments you receive. I might have to write another slice!

  6. Trina Haase Avatar
    Trina Haase

    I love this Elisabeth! SO true! Your comments have truly helped ME grow.

  7. Jennifer Floyd, Ed.D. Avatar

    We can’t forget the importance of commenting even when the writing gets tough. For some writers, one comment might be what keeps them going.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes! I saw this last year again and again where a new slicer would write about h ow much comments meant and how the one comment they had gotten kept them going another day. It helped me see that I need to be super generous in commenting because you never know when your words will be just what that writer needs to hear!

  8. arjeha Avatar

    You definitely hit the nail on the head. It is the commenting that keeps us coming back day after day for 31 days even when we think we have nothing to say. As with others, I enjoy reading the feedback. It is what gives us credence as writers. I really like your tips on getting ready for the challenge as well.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks! Your feedback offers such support for so many slicers! It is always fun to visit my blog later in the day and find the comments. Like little gifts!

  9. readingteachsu Avatar

    Great advice. March is really sneaking up on me this year and I feel less prepared than other years, but here goes. See you in there.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      We’ll make it through somehow! I don’t feel very prepared either, but then I rarely do!

  10. Amanda Potts Avatar

    I love so much of what you’ve said here. I joined last year for the writing challenge, but I’ve stayed for the comments. And comments – mine on other blogs and others’ on mine – have changed the way I respond to student writing. I really believe what you wrote in the middle, that there is something powerful about being seen and heard as a writer. That’s why I’m back!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I want to know so much more about how comments have changed how you respond to student writing. I think there’s a slice there! I know for myself, I improve as a writer with feedback, so I can see why it’s so essential as part of this challenge. I love how supportive the comments are–everyone gets high fives and praise and we only focus on what we love and what questions we have. And over just 31 days, each of us could probably say we improve as writers–with not one critical word said to us, in most cases. Definitely food for thought with how we teach writing!

  11. amyilene Avatar

    I have to say that the thing that drew me to this challenge (and that has kept me lurking over the past few years) was the comments. I think that it is really the feedback and dialogue that creates the community. In fact, my classroom blog requires that the students comment and each week they surprise me with how they interact with one another online, which is often quite different from what I see in the classroom.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think it’s the community that made me first dive in too. I didn’t really want to do a daily writing challenge, but I loved reading all the posts and the comments and seeing all these connections grow. It seemed like it would be fun to join in–and it is! So fascinating that your students interact with each other differently in the comments of their blogs. I think there’s a slice in that observation for sure!

  12. mraffinan Avatar

    Your post is so true! Thank you for your time and energy to “prolifically post”. Your “There is something so powerful about being read, about being seen, heard, felt by readers.” paragraph is so spot on in so many ways. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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