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.