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