How I Slice: Slice of Life #sol19 14/31

This is my fifth year participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, and this year, it’s different.

Before, I carried a notebook and collected moments, fragments, words, ideas all day long. I sought slices everywhere. Pay attention, I admonished myself. Write that down. I worried so much that I wouldn’t be able to find something to write about every day for 31 days.

Before, I didn’t have a dedicated slicing time. I knew I should start in the morning, but I often couldn’t make myself. Slicing felt hard, and I wanted to ease into the day. Or I’d start in the morning and then get distracted instead of finishing. Then the day would begin in earnest and I’d have to snatch minutes here and there to finish the slice.

Before, I worked on several pieces at once to make sure I would always have something, even if I got stuck. I worried a lot about getting stuck.

Before, I looked for whole stories, complete with beginning, middle, and end, all of which I knew before I began writing. I couldn’t start writing until I had a first sentence in mind, and then I couldn’t keep writing until I knew the ending.

Now, I wake up in the morning, head downstairs to make coffee, and only begin thinking about today’s slice as I walk up the stairs to my office with that fresh cup of coffee. Sometimes I have an idea by the time I reach the top of the stairs. Sometimes I open a book of writing prompts and find an idea there. More often, I read a few slices on other blogs and something strikes me—a question, a format, a topic.

Now, I sit on the chaise holding cats and writing until the slice is done. No more getting distracted and telling myself I have the rest of the day, I can finish it later. I don’t open my book to read until my slice is finished. I don’t comment on other slices until my slice is finished. I definitely don’t open Facebook until my slice is finished.

Now, I write mostly from other pieces of writing, not so much from moments throughout my own day. Now, I’m as inspired by format and form as I am by topic or theme. Now, I enjoy writing more because I don’t worry as much. Now, I’m often surprised by what I write. Now, writing feels like an adventure, a discovery, a pleasure.

This is what’s working for me now, but next year, it might all be different.






35 responses to “How I Slice: Slice of Life #sol19 14/31”

  1. dandre3 Avatar

    We’re nearly half way through, and I too have been slicing for several years during March. This year has been different as was last year. Sometimes I slice just to get things off my mind. I do write as many as possible in the morning so it’s done and I’m not adding it to a “to Do” list later.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Last year was the first year I didn’t really panic about getting through. But I still stressed so much over my writing. This year I am much more relaxed about it. I didn’t know “relaxed” plus “writing” could be in the same sentence for me! I expect it might all be very different next year!

  2. Katie Suomi (@MrsSuomi) Avatar

    I’m finding my process is a lot different as well. I read the blog post the other day about bandaids vs. storytelling. I’m making it a goal to do far more storytelling this year than relying on bandaids. So far it’s been working out, but there’s a lot of time to go.
    It’s cool to see how the process changes over time. Great reflective post!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’ve thought a lot about that post as well. I like the way story can emerge through some of the formats and forms that may look like Band-Aids to others.

  3. livinglife816287820 Avatar

    That definitely sounds like a good approach… I think you can overplan as you mentioned in previous years and then the writing doesn’t flow?

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think I have often overplanned and then struggled to actually complete the writing. I am a pantser as a writer, and I haven’t always developed a Slicing practice that respects my own tendencies!

  4. carwilc Avatar

    It’s interesting to read about other people’s processes. I have fallen into the trap of slicing at night this year, which I hate, because it means almost no one reads the slices. I am not sure I could use your process, though, because usually in the morning I am doing lesson plans for the day.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I try to comment on a few slices from the day before because I know those slicers who post at night don’t get many comments. I have to get up REALLY early on mornings when I teach too because otherwise i have no time for slicing and lesson plans!

  5. margaretsmn Avatar

    There is so much in this reflective piece of writing. You discovered how writing itself is not only an act of courage, but an act of discovery. It does get easier. The connections we make help us to be in a community of writers. I do wish some days, though, that we could sit side by side writing together. I guess we are doing that, virtually.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That sounds wonderful, Margaret! I would love to be able to sit and write side by side too. Someday!

  6. arjeha Avatar

    It is something how our approach to this challenge changes from year to year. I like the way you are handling it this yeas. Seems a lot less stressful. I pretty much follow the same path year after year…get up…see what inspires me…hope for the best. One thing I am doing this year that I haven’t done before is being one day ahead with my drafts. In the next two weeks there are some crazy days coming up and I know if I don’t have something in reserve I will not post those days.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      You’re right: so much less stressful! I had no idea writing could be…. fun? Easy? Relaxing? I hope I don’t jinx it now! I love the idea of being ahead by one day. I’ve done that in the past but haven’t managed to get a day ahead this year.

  7. dianelisa2 Avatar

    It’s interesting to hear how your approach to SOL writing changed over time, and I hope other people post about this as well. I am caught in the early stages of the writing challenge, and I find that I walk around narrating a lot of my life in my head, instead of paying attention to the moment. Since I ask my students to write personal narratives, fictitious stories, poems, and other genres, I am trying to diversify what I write. I don’t know if I can sustain the effort for the next half of the challenge, but I’ll try. Over time, I wonder how my own approach is likely to change, but only time will tell.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think that describes my last year’s challenge perfectly–going through the day narrating in my head, searching for those lines I could keep developing into writing. Using a lot of different formats, forms, and approaches really helps me sustain interest and momentum throughout the challenge, and when all else fails, I try a list!

  8. Amanda Potts Avatar

    Thanks for sharing your process. I am fascinated at how it’s changed over the years. I am having a harder time this year, my second, than last year – more nerves, I think; maybe a better understanding of what makes this month a challenge; definitely a stronger concern for audience and “will it be good enough?” I’m on March break this week, so I’ve had time, but next week I’m going to need a routine… Somehow, knowing about your approach makes things feel a little more manageable.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Well, if you need a quick idea for a form or format to try, you know where to come! I think you’ve really found your audience, and I think they will stick with you no matter what you write. But I know what you mean about “will it be good enough?” I always wonder that when I write more traditional story slices.

  9. Lisa Keeler Avatar

    I love how your process and habits and thinking and emotions have evolved as the years have passed and you’ve participated in this challenge. The way you structured your slice with the befores and the nows really paints a picture of how you’ve changed as a writer.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Lisa! I always think it’s interesting to reflect on writing process and note how things change.

  10. edifiedlistener Avatar

    Thanks for sharing your process and evolution over time. I wonder what you would find to look back over your slices from the first or third year- how has your writing changed? I’m impressed to know that you’ve managed the challenge 6 years in a row.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That’s a great question! I think I write pieces that are a lot shorter now! I rarely go back and reread old writing, unless it’s about cats, LOL. How are you finding your experience this year vs last year?

      1. edifiedlistener Avatar

        Hard to say. I know that there are a couple of posts I remember fondly. Since I made a separate SOL blog, it has become like my digital sketchbook where I feel free to experiment. This year I feel the time crunch more and regret that I don’t have more time for comments.

  11. Danielle Avatar

    Thanks for taking us through your Slicing journey! My process is part before, part after: I still worry I won’t have something to write about, but love mining other slicers’ posts for ideas. Like yours!!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Love love love mining other slicers’ posts for ideas! That’s primarily how I’m writing this year, and it’s so amazing to me each day to write a piece that piggybacks off of someone else’s. I never know what I’m going to choose to write, and that’s exciting.

  12. Trina Haase Avatar
    Trina Haase

    I love knowing your process and sharing how it has evolved! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’d love to read a post about your process and how you’ve noticed it changing too. I love your process posts!

      1. Trina Haase Avatar
        Trina Haase

        Maybe I WILL write about that!!

  13. paulabourque Avatar

    YES! There is no ONE RIGHT WAY to write. I love that you share your process and know that it may not be the same next year (or even the next day!). Doing what works for YOU is all that matters and I hope people find inspiration from this post-I did!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      So true, Paula. There is no one right way to write, and we really limit our students, ourselves, each other when we try to make a procedure out of an ever-changing process.

  14. Jen Driggers Avatar

    I love your approach. I start my day reading other people’s slices too. I try to write before work but I don’t always finish. But then I finish later on and publish. Trying different approaches is how we find what works. Thanks for sharing

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Jen. It’s so inspiring to read other people’s slices, and I often find just the thing I want to write about. I will have to be open next year to doing it all differently if I need to.

  15. Ramona Avatar

    Liked hearing about your process and the Before and Now structure. No reading, no commenting, & no FB before posting. You are one disciplined gal! And I love your closing sentence: “Now, writing feels like an adventure, a discovery, a pleasure.” : -)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha, well I’m disciplined when I actually manage to follow my own rules! I always enjoy reading process posts too. There can never be too many of those for me!

  16. mschiubookawrites Avatar

    I love this piece about writing change over time, and even how you process it. This is my 2nd year, and I’m not as stressed about it as last year. I see stories everywhere. This is my goal- your golden lines “Now, I’m as inspired by format and form as I am by topic or theme. Now, I enjoy writing more because I don’t worry as much. Now, I’m often surprised by what I write. Now, writing feels like an adventure, a discovery, a pleasure.”

  17. readingteachsu Avatar

    It’s intersting to hear your change over time. It does seem each year is a little different. For some reason this year I developed a little pattern of what I wanted to write about ( a general topic) each day. I have continued to plan, but in a much different way.

  18. Veronica Avatar

    I love reading about your process, it’s invaluable to me. Printing this out and trying out some of your strategies, thank you!

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