What Is It About March?: Slice of Life #sol21 9/31

30-day challenge - Austin Kleon

One of my favorite ways to find a slice to write each day is to read other slices and seek inspiration. It may take a few clicks, but I can always find a structure or a topic or a question to engage me. Today, it was a whole passage from Mari Miyagi’s post, Willpower to Write.

I have written seven days in a row today! I hadn’t been able to write much before or I chose not to because of my excuse that I was busy. But once I determined to write everyday this month, I started to develop my willpower to do so.

I wonder anew about this every March. All year long, I struggle to publish blog posts even once or twice a week. I’m certain every February that this year, I really am too busy to tackle yet another commitment. And yet somehow in March, I manage to publish 31 blog posts and hundreds of comments, and I don’t shirk my other responsibilities or skip sleep to do it. Where does the time come from? Where does the willpower come from?

And why don’t I have that the rest of the year?

It’s not that I think I should publish a blog post every day all year. It’s just that in March, I make time for a writing and community commitment that is important to me. I set my intention, determine to write every day, and, just like Mari, I develop the willpower to do so. There are other commitments to creativity and well-being I’d like to make during the rest of the year. And yet, when it’s not March, when it’s not slicing, I often struggle.

What is it about March? Maybe it’s the warm writing community that cheers on even my most feeble effort. Maybe it’s my history with the challenge: having completed it before, I know I can complete it again. Maybe it’s the routine I’ve developed, the predictable pockets of time I’ve carved out for daily writing and commenting.

What lessons can I learn from March that I could apply during the rest of the year?






27 responses to “What Is It About March?: Slice of Life #sol21 9/31”

  1. margaretsmn Avatar

    What is it about March? I’m with you. Maybe that’s it. We are in this together. We know someone is waiting to read what we write.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think the community is key. When I think about the other daily challenges I manage to complete and personal commitments I manage to follow through on during the year, none of them has a community this lively and engaged.

  2. Anita Ferreri Avatar
    Anita Ferreri

    I agree…it is, as I note every year, a rhythm and mindset to be a writer…for me it only happens in March when I eembrace writing in a special way!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I really like your point and phrasing about “a rhythm and mindset to be a writer”. And I know for me, that rhythm and mindset waxes and wanes throughout the year.

  3. TammyB Avatar

    I think it is the community and the knowing that people are looking for your posts. You know you will be Inspired by others. It feels like the most delicious month long PD for me too. So many ideas I take to my classroom. It is when we come together like a big party!! Which reminds me of the favorite things post!!!
    I love the Kleon 30 day check off too!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Inspiration is a huge part of it! I know I will be inspired by others every day–and also that my posts will inspire others to find topics and structures. It’s infectious–and yes, one big writing party!

  4. jumpofffindwings Avatar

    I think what Tammy says is true. Also we have only a certain amount of attention, of willpower. Reserves run low because —think of all the commitments you hold to every day without giving yourself credit. I think there’s a TED talk out there about that very thing! (I love that you always include a graphic of some sort, too. I’ve got to work on that, another challenge.)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      This is such an important point–attention, willpower, energy aren’t infinite. Our reserves run low for the very good reason that we already have many commitments and projects.

  5. arjeha Avatar

    It is a lot about priorities. We put daily writing at the top of our list making sure we get it done. I agree with so many others. This community is inspiring and encouraging. I look forward to reading old friends and making new ones. I would miss it if they were not here.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes! It’s really a gathering of friends. And it IS about priorities. I know in March that this challenge will be mine. At other times of the year, I have different priorities and need to focus attention and energy elsewhere.

  6. Shari Daniels Avatar

    Oh Elisabeth, this same wondering has shown up in my notebook. What happens, for me, I think, is that the longer I am away from posting on my blog, the greater the resistance is to do it again. In posting every day, that voice seems to quiet down. But, bigger than this, there is actually some neuroscience around the idea of relational connections with others and the positive feel good chemicals (dopamine, oxytocin, etc.) in the brain that are released when we receive positive words from others and grow connections. I don’t know about you, but by March, I need me some more of that feel good energy! 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I feel this too, Shari. I have noticed that I always find it easier to do something every day than to do it two or three times a week. If it’s daily, then I don’t have to think about whether I will do it. No decision-making energy has to go into whether I’m going to do it. I just am.

  7. edifiedlistener Avatar

    These are great questions. In many ways, SOL feels like a kind of break for me. I’m not publishing to achieve a particular agenda point. The choice is in favor of community, of shared kindnesses, of welcoming and being welcomed. It’s a month where I may tweet less, schedule fewer commitments. And every day I know this is a party where the only ask is that I come as I am and spend some time mingling in the comment sections. I worry much less about the writing itself and celebrate the freedom to experiment and indulge. We’re not writing on assignment, simply for the joy of showing up with others who let us know they’re glad we’re here. It’s a remarkably sweet deal. March SOL becomes the refuge that allows me to tank energy for the year that follows.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Not writing on assignment feels key. I so often feel like my public writing should have an agenda and align with my commitments for teaching and showing up in the world. And so I often don’t do it because that feels like a lot of pressure. In March, I will write whatever turns up that day, no judgment from myself about whether it’s sufficiently reflective of my values and the work I want to be doing in the world. Does that make sense? Writing as a refuge that tanks energy really resonates with me. I need to think more about that and about what I’m trying to ask from myself as a writer the rest of the year. (I also spend far less time on Twitter this month, which does free up more time for writing and commenting!)

  8. Leigh Anne Eck Avatar
    Leigh Anne Eck

    I have these same questions, especially the last two years. At the last minute, I submit my form. I am still looking for answers, and yes, ways to apply this in other areas of my life – like eating better and moving!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes!! It’s so interesting to me that many of us have this experience in March. I do wish I could apply all these lessons more readily in other areas in my life!

  9. mschiubookawrites Avatar

    I’ve been pondering this myself and agree with you and many of the comments above. It’s a commitment with an end-date and a team cheering for you. SOL coincides with the start of Spring, when introverts like me start to come out of hibernation. Participating in an online community is like dipping the toes in the lake. It’s become a part of my yearly routine, although EVERY year I feel it’s the year I will skip. Big sigh, it must be magic.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh, I like that: “a commitment with an end-date.” I hadn’t considered this aspect. Many of the other commitments I want to make and follow through on are endless–daily commitments I’d like to have for life. That’s quite a different beast from a 31-day challenge that I know is going to end! I love your insight about introverted personalities too. I hadn’t considered how slicing enables me to get social needs met as an introvert in a way that isn’t draining!

  10. natashadomina Avatar

    Your post resonates so strongly with me! It’s so true for me as well (except for the not getting less sleep part. I have definitely noticed myself staying up later as I read and comment on just one more slice.) I love the rhythm of your writing. The long paragraphs of thought, contrasting with the short, one-sentence questions that burn.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I try never to read and comment at night–because otherwise, I’m up too late too! It’s hard to resist reading just one more slice!

  11. Trina Avatar

    I have these questions and thoughts, too. I struggled with writing even once a month and am astonished that I have managed to write for nearly 10 days now. Perhaps it is all in my mindset. Maybe part of it is the accountability in the challenge.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s such a mystery to me! Because it’s the same here. Haven’t published a blog post since August and now I’m posting every day and not even feeling particularly taxed or time-pressed with it. How is that possible?? Something about our mindset definitely shifts for March.

      1. Trina Avatar

        I am really happy that you showed up writing, too.

  12. Completely Full Bookshelf Avatar
    Completely Full Bookshelf

    I completely understand what you mean! Blogging for me in general tends to be me surprising myself with how much I can actually commit, considering how little I have managed to commit in the past. I definitely think having a community that supports you as you post and also expects you to return every day/week/etc. can be very motivating, though even then, it’s always a challenge. Who knew singlehandedly running an entire website was this hard? Thanks for the great post!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh, that’s so interesting–the commitment to blogging being possible to follow through with even when other commitments have been more challenging. This regular community of readers really is important. And your comment makes me think about the consistency and regularity of the same readers returning, how we are all reading each other’s blogs.

  13. livinglife816287820 Avatar

    Yes, I do wonder the same, though I haven’t been doing it for as long as you have. But I do set myself to the task every day in March and feel committed because of the community and enjoyment of reading other slices and comments… not the same incentive the rest of the year, I agree!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think this must be a huge part of it–the incentive of community is missing from most of the other challenges and commitments I want to pursue. I’ve never been much of a joiner, but apparently I have been missing out on a huge source of motivation!

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