It Usually Works: Slice of Life 8/20 #sol20

I settled into a comfortable morning slicing routine around year three of the challenge.

Coffee. Computer. Cats. Comments.

I check mine and feel grateful for the readers who took the time to leave a comment. If slicing were just about the writing, I probably wouldn’t do it. I know it’s good for me and I ought to find value and purpose even without feedback. But the community is what keeps me coming back year after year.

I try to do my part. First, I catch up with the night slicers. My unscientific study of commenting habits reveals that morning slicers get a lot more feedback. I feel for the late night folks. By morning, it seems like everyone is moving on. So first I open the links from yesterday’s slicing and comment on eight or ten before checking in with my fellow morning slicers and leaving five or six comments for them. I’ll circle back to today’s slicers later, adding a few more comments here and there throughout the day when I have a moment.

I know the participation guidelines suggest three comments each day. But I don’t know many long-time slicers who routinely leave only three comments. This whole commenting algorithm isn’t too complex: leave a bunch of comments, and eventually you’re going to start getting a bunch of comments.

I know many slicers like to slice first, then comment. But I have an ulterior purpose in commenting first: I’m usually searching for my own slice.

My first couple of years of slicing, I was an anxious slicer. So worried about getting that finished piece every day that I worked on several at once just to be sure something would be close to publication on any given day. So worried about finding something to write about that I kept a file open on my computer at all times to jot down even the barest whiff of an idea. I thought about very little else all day long except slicing and regularly felt panicked over my ability to have an idea about something and write something and finish something every single day for 31 days. I wouldn’t fall asleep until I had a clear plan for what to write about the next day.

But then I completed the challenge once successfully. Then twice. For my third year slicing, I figured I could settle down and perhaps trust a bit more that the universe would provide.

And it did. In the form of other people’s slices.

Now I wake up with absolutely no clue what I’m going to be writing, even though I know I will start my piece in the next 30 or 45 minutes. I make my coffee. My three most reliable morning lap cats join me and curl up in their spots: Smudge across my ankles, Toast on my knees, and Chipotle claiming top spot, the actual lap. I open my computer to read and comment and find my slice.

It usually works. Occasionally, I find my piece in the first slice I read. Usually, it takes a little more browsing. But by the fifth or sixth or tenth slice, I have an idea and I’m ready to write.

It usually works. But not always. This was one of the mornings when it didn’t. I read one wonderful slice after another. So many powerful, provocative, funny, heartfelt, moving slices. I read and commented, read and commented. And suddenly realized my morning time was slipping by and I didn’t have an idea for my own slice. I opened my ideas file, which I still keep though it’s not open on my computer all the time. Nothing struck me. I thought about picking up one of my many books on writing to search for inspiration, but they are all clear across the room on a shelf and my living blanket of cat doesn’t like to be disturbed.

Ok, time’s up, I told myself. You’ve got to find a slice now. What’s right in front of you?

Coffee. Computer. Cats. Comments.






18 responses to “It Usually Works: Slice of Life 8/20 #sol20”

  1. dandre3 Avatar

    I think we all struggle sometimes to find ideas. I love that you wrote about writing and your living blanket. I often slice later in the day, especially on work days. I struggle to find a topic. Some are more meaningful than others. I journey on. I think this is my fifth or sixth year slicing for the whole month of March. It’s a wonderful opportunity to discover the writer within.

  2. TammyB Avatar

    Sometimes I find slices come easily and sometimes not. Even with a list of topics some of them do not resonate right away. Thank you for sharing your process.

  3. stephaniemeier94 Avatar

    I agree with you that morning slicers get more feedback! Sometimes, I really want to wait until the day is over to write, but I push myself because the community is my favorite part of this challenge. I also agree that it’s very rare that I restrict myself to 3 comments. I love reading the writing of others. Just like I enjoyed reading your slice this morning. I hope you have a fabulous Sunday. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. dmsherriff Avatar

    The 4 C’s – perfect! I love learning about your own habits as a slicer and feedback. I’m a morning slicer and tend to respond to morning slicers first but I always end my day be responding to at least two later in the day slicers. I don’t want to miss the brilliance that comes out later in the day – a little fomo, you might say. So glad you found your slice today! Thanks for sharing!

  5. arjeha Avatar

    I totally agree that I can’t just comment on three. There are so many great ideas out there to draw from when we reach a dry stretch in our daily writing. I was like you the first couple of years I participated in this challenge. Now I know that my daily post will find me even if I have no idea what that topic might be when I open my eyes in the morning.

  6. amandahoving Avatar

    Whatever works, right? And, I love your 4 C’s. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Ramona Avatar

    Perfect to have a metaslice at day eight. I totally agree about the evening slicers. So I try to give some love there too. I need a list of new slicers. Some years they share that. This year I created an excel doc that I’m using to add links for people hard to find. And for slicers that I love. And for slices I want to come back to for ideas. But I don’t always use it. Happy Sunday, Elisabeth!

  8. Shari Daniels Avatar

    Oh Elisabeth. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. We are one in the same. I’ve been a slacker this season and your words inspired me to pull myself out of the ruts and get back in the game. If only we lived closer, we could meet at our favorite coffee shop and write our slices together, drink our coffee and chit chat about books and teaching. I’ll write it on my calendar. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Writing Intentions: Making Connections ~ SOL~2020 – Islands of My Soul Avatar

    […] writing friend, Elisabeth Ellingson at the dirigible plum reminded me about intentions of the challenge. For me, I don’t need to develop a habit. I […]

  10. karpenglish Avatar

    Who can limit themselves to three comments? Slices are like potato chips in that way. I would love to be a morning slicer, but mornings in my house are kind of chaotic, and I am a night person, not a morning person, so I am usually way down at the end of the day. However, the bonus is that nearly everyone else has posted, so I have so many exciting things to read. I try to post comments on some who posted at the end of the day, some from the middle, and some from the very beginning. I also make it a point to look for names that are new to me, and to read posts whose titles catch my eye – and at least two whose titles do nothing for me. After that, I read the posts from those I regularly read (like you!). It takes a long time, but is lots of fun!

  11. terierrol Avatar

    I love your 4 C’s. I totally agree with you about the community and comments are what keep me going. Happy slicing.

  12. Amanda Potts Avatar

    I love your slicing rhythm and your mostly lack of panic when a slice doesn’t quite come. And look! it worked! I wish I had a little more morning time to circle back to evening slicers – this year I feel like I hardly have any time at all & I’m not even responding to all the comments on my own blog – which is very bad form! But I still have to comment on far more than three blogs. Three?! What sort of craziness is that? So glad you take the time to write & be part of the community. Isn’t it fun?

  13. mrsday75 Avatar

    Your slicing habits and mine are very much the same–and the attitude about evening slicers! Thanks for checking in to my blog periodically!

  14. Trina Avatar

    “Coffee. Computer. Cats. Comments.” Love these four words…and your insights.

    I have a hard time figuring out what to slice about too, especially in March. Lately I have been a late night slicer, but I am okay with this. I am just happy to show up as a writer.

  15. carwilc Avatar

    I love reading about your routine. I usually slice and then comment, but now you have made me think. Hmmm.

    I always comment on late night slicers too. I feel sorry for them (me often being one of them) because it seems like there is such a stigma attached to not slicing early. And I don’t get why it’s bad to slice late, as long as you are slicing at all!

  16. Kristy L Avatar

    I’m going to have to steal your routine of commenting BEFORE slicing. That would be especially helpful on those days I am a bit stumped. Also, way to go on your very generous commenting! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. carlambrown Avatar

    I enjoyed this so much! It was so practical and fun! As a first year slicer (and I just love that term), I find myself in several elements of your description. I’ve had more angst so far in the beginning, but as wonderful things happen in my life, I find it easier to write – and I get excited when it seems something out of the ordinary occurs. I find myself thinking, “I’m going to use this to write about!”

    Thanks so much for sharing this. It was so helpful and intermittently hilarious. I love your living blanket, lol. I’m so glad to be participating this year and it is simply amazing to see how large this community is. I think I’m going to tell my writing group about it this week that I meet with at the local library monthly. This experience is most rewarding.

    With Warmest Regards,

    ~Carla Michelle

  18. Susan Kennedy Avatar
    Susan Kennedy

    Iโ€™m mostly a morning slicer, though have been through off for a few days now. I usually write at night and post the next morning reading 6-10 slices in the morning and then more after work. I follow many now on my wordpress reader and then have others I circle back to. Have no idea for today,. Better get a plan soon.

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