Four Things I’ve Learned in Four Years of Slicing: Slice of Life #sol19 22/31

This post was inspired by Lisa Keeler’s Six Things I’ve Learn in Six Years of Slicing.

  1. Reading makes me a better writer. I used to think that my propensity for reading slices before writing my own was a way to procrastinate, and in my first year, I didn’t allow myself to read before I had written. In my second year, I read but also got sidetracked commenting and often didn’t get to my own slice until a little later in the day. I finally figured it out in year three: read as many slices as you need, but don’t comment until you’ve written your own. I find that I need some kind of saturation or marinating in other slices before I am ready to write. I often find sparks for my writing in other pieces, and it also helps to have the graceful sentences and strong structures of other writers in my head.
  2. My writing territories are a constant, and I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I like to slice about my morning routines, about the prairie, about books, about cats. I like to slice about slicing. One territory I have largely lost, by choice: writing about my son. In my first two years slicing, I found many of my slices in moments with him. But the older he has gotten, the less comfortable I am writing about him. I also see a shift from writing to process and understand to writing to play and discover, and some subjects seem more suited to one kind of writing than the other. Although all my slices are about me, they are not as personal as they once were. I am more aware now of slicing as a community act and appreciate the invitation to celebrate others’ writing by writing off of it.
  3. I have time to write. My writing practice waxes and wanes throughout the year (lately a lot more waning than waxing), but March always involves A LOT of writing. It’s not just the slices that get published. There are also the drafts that are started and abandoned, the pieces I just couldn’t get to work (not as many this year as in previous years). And there are the comments. Most days I comment on at least twenty different slices, and I also try to respond to all of the comments I receive. During the rest of the year, I often feel like I don’t have enough time each day for even five minutes of dedicated writing in my notebook—writing that doesn’t have to be polished or careful. But somehow in March, I find time for all of this daily writing, and it’s not like I neglect the rest of my life. The only thing that tends to suffer in March is the time I spend on social media, and I do not miss that. One thing I would like to learn from slicing is how to keep more writing momentum going during the rest of the year.  Suggestions welcome!
  4. Community keeps me coming back. The first year I decided to take the plunge and do the daily challenge, it was for me, to grow my practice as a writer, to see if I could really write and publish 31 slices in a row. Of course I still appreciate what happens to my writing when I dedicate a month to daily practice, but without the community, I wouldn’t keep showing up. It’s an extraordinary thing to have readers who visit my blog every single day to read and comment on my writing. I know it’s going to happen, but every year I am astounded all over again when readers show up and keep showing up. And I keep showing up for them too.

What have you learned in your years of slicing?






22 responses to “Four Things I’ve Learned in Four Years of Slicing: Slice of Life #sol19 22/31”

  1. Trina Haase Avatar
    Trina Haase

    Thank you of reminding me how it is important to reflect on what has been learned through this slicing experience. I really enjoyed reading about what you have learned and how you have grown as a slicer.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I always enjoy reading reflections about people’s experiences with slicing. I agree that it’s so important to reflect on our learning.

  2. arjeha Avatar

    These are four important things you have learned over four years. All are important. I think the one that strikes me the most is the sense of community. When I first started posting at TWT and then started my first March Challenge I wasn’t sure of anyone would read my posts let alone come back week after week or day after day to see what’s going on. People have and that strong sense of community is what keeps me coming back.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The community is certainly what keeps me coming back. I love daily challenges and do a fair number of them, but I don’t always repeat once I know I can do it. I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop slicing, however.

  3. dianelisa2 Avatar

    I appreciate your perspective on slicing over the years. Also, it’s kind of you to comment on so many slices each day — how thoughtful!

    This is my first time slicing, and I am still having difficulty coming up with ideas that I feel are worthy of posting. I like the challenge, though, and I highly value the supportive community, like you.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The ideas part has always been really hard for me in the past, but this year it’s been so much easier, and I’m not sure why. Maybe just because I’m writing from other people’s posts most days, and since there’s 250+ of them, I can always find a topic, format, or idea to write about!

  4. margaretsmn Avatar

    I’ve been slicing for 8 years. I’ve learned all of these things. I hope you will find a way to keep the momentum going. I always follow March with a poem a day in April for National Poetry Month. I take May off then back again for summer months. With SOL Tuesday and Poetry Friday I keep my blog going all year long. The communities of support keep me going. I am not as consistent at commenting as you are. That’s something I need to work on.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I am pretty consistent with Monday reading posts and Tuesday slicing through the year but need another couple of weekly blogging events to join. I might try Poetry Friday. I think I am going to try to write poetry or at least write off of poems every day in April but not necessarily post to my blog.

  5. Lisa Keeler Avatar

    This is a great reflection. You have me thinking further about the lessons I’m learning from engaging in this practice. Wow- commenting on 20 plus a day is so impressive. I shoot for 10 plus and have managed that up until yesterday…

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The last few days I’ve only gotten in the required three. Hoping to “catch up” today and tomorrow.

  6. mshubb1104 Avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing! As a first year slicer, I’ve learned a lot. I also post before I comment and feel that’s effective for me. I’ve gained so much insight from slicing and most of all I have learned how many teachers are going through similar experiences both good and bad. That has helped me feel more connected and less alone. A suggestion by fellow slicer and Teach Write colleague Christie Wyman, is to do a daily poem in April for poetry month!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      A daily poem is an excellent idea! I may join Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s poem project this year. Last year I followed along but usually wrote something different.

  7. Terje Avatar

    I could relate to many of the things you said. What spoke to me the most today was the writing territories. Having writing territories is fine. I often write about books and tea and slow Saturday mornings.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Books and tea and slow Saturday mornings are things I always like to read about! I have noticed that my writing territories tend also to be my reading territories.

  8. Jaana Avatar

    A great reflection on what you have learned. I see the journey here. I have learned to grow my draft folder with ideas when reading other posts or just putting a title in my notebooks. Then I can come back and work on those drafts when I have time. Now I might need to write a reflection.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I always love reading about other people’s processes. And I wish I’d know how important a drafts file was my very first time slicing. I would have had a much easier time!

  9. Amanda Potts Avatar

    I’m fascinated by the way your approach and style has changed over the years. In year 2, I’ve come to love the community – I’ve commented on at least 20 a day until yesterday when I got overwhelmed, but I don’t respond to every comment on mine which is something I need to work on. I’m also interested that you’ve noticed a shift from writing to process to writing to play. I’m definitely still in the first category. Interesting. And yet… I’m a very different writer this year than last… growth in community. What a gift.

  10. lmwp2016megginv Avatar

    I totally get the writing territories! I have only a few and like you, the important one cannot be written, yet. There is something that prevents me from writing about my son at this time. I do tell my friends and family that during March, anyone might make the blog! I do changes names for the sake of anonymity.

  11. carwilc Avatar

    I’m struggling with the community thing this year. A lot of the people who have been my community other years aren’t slicing this year and I really miss them. I’m posting pretty late most nights, so I’m not getting many comments. It’s not as much fun.

  12. mschiubookawrites Avatar

    Thank you for your reflections and for your comments. They have certainly fueled my writing. I feel very lucky to have this community where we can process and play with words, which I am also finding myself do more of. I also understand about not wanting to write too much about my son. I’ve been asking him if it’s okay before I post. Happy weekend!

  13. readingteachsu Avatar

    So much of what you write rings true for me as well. What I’ve learned from you this year is to play with styles from other writers that aren’t my own. I still have that coffee with me slice percolating in my notebook. I agree that this year I am abandoning less ideas that I sometimes do, I was struggle to even Tuesday write during this school year, and I don’t write comments until I’ve posted my own blog. Wonder how many others have that in common?

  14. SOLC2019: #31 Reflections on 8 Years of Slice of Life | Reflections on the Teche Avatar

    […] about their learning.  Terje has been writing for nine years, so she did nine things she learned. Elisabeth inspired Terje’s post with Four Things I’ve Learned in Four Years of Slicing.  And […]

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