Reflecting on the Slice of Life Challenge #SOL24

April 2, 2024

we did it joeAnd just like that the Slice of Life Challenge is OVAH. Posted every day in March, and at one point I did not think I would make it. But make it, I did. Whew.

However, the challenge isn’t complete for me until I actually reflect on my experience, so reflect I shall. I’ll start with the questions I asked my students when they participated in the challenge last spring.

How did the Slice of Life Challenge (SOL) go? It went. Hahaha. No, it was good in the beginning because I had a lot of things going on that I could talk about as well as some posts that I knew I wanted to make, so I felt pretty confident going into the challenge. Plus, I’ve completed it before so I knew I could do it.

What went well? The beginning of the challenge went well. Finding inspiration from other Slicers on the days I was stuck also helped a lot.

What were some challenges you faced? Since I’m on sabbatical this year, I wasn’t at work and I know a lot of inspiration in previous years came from the things that happened there. I’m still doing stuff, obviously, but not all days had An Event for me to talk about, which left me stumped. Also, because of the way my life is set up, I wasn’t usually able to make comments every single day, though I did always go back and do comments on the days I missed. I also didn’t get a chance to visit everyone’s blog who commented on mine, I don’t think, so shout out to everyone getting comments on their week one posts from me this week.

What did you learn about yourself as a writer? I will read more when I’m stumped. I went beyond the three comments per day on the days I was looking for inspiration because I read more slices than I normally would.

Also, I can bang out a post in thirty minutes or fewer if necessary because that definitely happened at least three times this month when I remembered at ~11p p.m. that I needed to make my post before the day was done.

What tips or suggestions would you give anyone planning to participate in SOL in the future? I forgot to save the post, but I saw that someone picked a theme for the month, and I think that’s a smart idea. I’ve done that before when completing the A to Z Challenge, but I never thought of doing it for this challenge, and it definitely would have made things easier if I had an intention of what I planned to write about each day.

Also, be realistic with yourself. In years previous, I would try to write a day ahead of the challenge, so I knew I would make the deadline. That didn’t happen this year for many reasons, and I was okay with that. I also knew there was no way I would post every day by 11:59 EDT (I’m on the West coast), so I was also okay with posting every day by 11:59 PDT.

And celebrate yourself! If you hit all thirty-one days and even if you don’t, you’ve probably written more than you usually do, and that’s worth giving yourself credit for.

I also liked these questions from Overly DramaticWhen you sit down–or stand, if that is your jam–to write your slice, where do you go first? Is it the story? The form? Do you think of a punchline? A title? A picture? Do you write the title first? Or do you write it last?

I usually start with an idea or event that I know I want to write about. The uniform, the lack of a pop the trunk button, the conversation with my students, the thumb biopsy are prime examples of that. This month, when I started with form, it was an idea borrowed from someone else.

Sometimes I write the title first (“It’s called a uniform for a reason”), but the title is usually last because even if I know what topic I’m writing about, I don’t know what themes or ideas about it will actually arise until I sit down to write. There are times I wish I could have changed my titles, though, especially after coming up with pithy descriptions to post on Facebook or Instagram.

Then, Melanie inspired me to make a spreadsheet and charts!broader SOL24 inspo chart broad SOL24 topics chart

Here’s what I learned from doing the spreadsheet/charts: I only talked about TV 20% of the time, which is somehow both less than and more than I expected. Same with health-related stuff, which I talked about 30% of the time. Books only inspired 6% of my posts (though some form of media inspired 27% of my posts), so clearly I need to read more during the month. Other slicers and their formats inspired 13% of my posts, so I want to pay even more attention to topics or formats other people use for even more inspiration because they really and truly saved my bacon more than once and had the bonus of reminding me of when we used to do memes over on LiveJournal.

Sally reminded me that I should celebrate actually completing the challenge, and Jodi says she makes hardcover books of her posts from the challenge, which is brilliant and something I will now definitely look into.

2024, 2018, and 2017: done, done, and done.

Final thoughts about participating in the Slice of Life challenge: If you’re on the fence about it, DO IT. It’s so fun and a great way to stretch as a writer and connect with other bloggers, many of whom I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

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  1. Sarah Valter

    I love the questions you used and the deep dive you took into reflecting on the month. I’ve never analyzed my slices before—it would be really fun to try on the first day next March, too!

  2. Steph Paterson

    A whole year sabbatical! Amazing. (At my school, it’s a semester every 6-7 years). I need to learn how to make a pie-chart. They’re fun to read and see–yours and Melanie’s! Cool detail in the final wrap-up analysis: “Other slicers and their formats inspired 13% of my posts…” Like you, this year I didn’t plan ahead. I came to each slide cold, and I liked the spontaneity of that. Thanks for sharing your reflections. Reflective writing is some of my favorite writing. I tell my students it’s what helps to lock in the learning.

    • Akilah

      Yes, a year is very luxurious. I’m so grateful that I have the time.

      Pie charts are super easy in Google Sheets! You just select the cells and click on make chart and boom! There you have it.

      I also love reflective writing as it has completely transformed my teaching and relationship to my students. Hmm, there’s an idea for a slice.

  3. Denise Krebs

    Akilah, congratulations on finishing the Slice of Life challenge! I like how you reflected with numbers too. Checking how many times you talked about certain things. One thing that happens to me in March is I read a lot less than usual! Enjoy your sabbatical!

    • Akilah

      March is usually a slow reading month for me too (unless spring break falls then or I read a bunch of picture books to prep my class, ahem), so I understand. If I do the challenge next year, it’ll be interesting to see the difference since I’ll definitely be back at work then…

  4. Debbie lynn

    That’s awesome and congratulations. I love the idea of making a book with the month’s stories as well as an analysis of what I wrote about. I may go back and do that. Thanks for the suggestions. 🙂

    • Akilah

      You’re welcome! I am very into this book idea, and I feel like everyone should do it now hahaha.

  5. Elisabeth Ellington

    This post was so much fun to read! Bookmarking to steal these questions for myself in the future. My theme last year (or the year before? Or both years? Who can remember anymore? What even is time?) was finding inspiration in other people’s slices–only writing from a format or idea I found in another slicer’s blog. I enjoyed that quite a lot but was also glad to have a little more flexibility this year. But themes are helpful. Now I want to make spreadsheets and charts too. So fun! Also had a laugh at your shout out to the folks whose first day posts you’re visiting this week. That is so me. I feel like a mad stalker as I comment on six slices in a row from someone I’ve been meaning to visit and keep forgetting….

    • Akilah

      Oh, finding inspiration in other people’s slices is also a super fun idea!

      Also, time is a flat circle. Jeremy Bearimy, baby.

  6. Lisa Vahey

    I’m saving this post, because reflection is so key to living a writing life, and I love a good chart that analyzes meaningful data (emphasis on MEANINGFUL). Thank you for digging more deeply into and modeling reflection in a way that is exciting and compelling for making my Tuesday Slices more thoughtful. Super grateful for this energy!

    • Akilah

      Oh, thank you so much! What a compliment.

      Reflection has transformed my teaching, so I really try to remember to do it for myself now. It really does make everything come together when a project is over to take the time to think back on it.


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