FAQs for First-Time Slice of Life Story Challenge Participants

16611483056_3b5c9a6bb0_oI’ve been answering lots of questions from first-time Slicers since the participant information form went live on Sunday.  I’m happy to answer questions, but the same questions keep coming up. In an effort to help first-timers as they embark on this month-long writing challenge, I’ve pulled my answers into a blog post.

QUESTION: Do I have to have a blog to participate in the Slice of Life Story Challenge?

ANSWER: Yes.  While you’re welcome to write for 31 days of March in your writer’s notebook or a Google Doc, participating in the Challenge means being a part of a writing community.  Your blog should be open to comments so other Slicers (That’s what we call the people who participate in this writing challenge.) can support you on your writing journey.

It doesn’t take long to start a blog. It’s also free!  Personally, I like WordPress.  Blogger and Edublogs are also good options.   Click here for a blog post I wrote a few years ago about how to create your blog.

QUESTION: Where will I place the link to my blog?

ANSWER: Every day in March, there will be a call for slice of life stories at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time.  You will place the permalink to your blog post in the comment section of that day’s blog post.  Here’s an example from last year: https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/sol14day30/.

Please do NOT link on this page, https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/challenges/, which is our Slice of Life Information Page. Comments left on that page will not be seen by other Slicers. Further, they will not be counted as one of your 31 posts.  Further, please do not leave the link to your slice of life story on the Classroom SOLSC post, which will go live daily at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time. That post is only for classrooms of students who are taking the challenge.

For your convenience, day 1’s URL where you’ll link your story (on 3/1) will be:

 https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/sol15-day1

NOTE: This won’t go live until 12:01 a.m. EST on Sunday, March 1st.  I wanted to give you the exact place where you will need to link your slice of life story on the first day.

The links for days 2, 3, etc. will look similar (e.g., https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/sol15-day2, https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/sol15-day3.

QUESTION: What should I write when I leave the permalink to my slice of life story?

ANSWER: Write a short teaser and leave the link to your blog post.  Here’s an example of what I wrote today.

Having a WordPress account makes it faster for you to leave comments. However, you don't have to have one. Just fill in your username (for the challenge), your e-mail address, and your blog's URL in the appropriate fields, THEN leave your comment in the comment box.

Having a WordPress account makes it faster for you to leave comments. However, you don’t have to have one. Just fill in your username (for the challenge), your e-mail address, and your blog’s URL in the appropriate fields, THEN leave your comment in the comment box.

QUESTION: What should I write about? Can I write about teaching?

Are you wondering what a slice of life story is? Click on this image to enlarge & to learn more.

Are you wondering what a slice of life story is? Click on this image to enlarge & to learn more.

ANSWER: A slice of life storytelling technique that offers insight into an ordinary person’s life.  You can think of it as a small moment story.  You’re not telling about your whole day – just a piece of it.

That being said, your slice of life post should not be, for instance, a lesson plan or notes about staff development training you attended.  Information/advice that’s not presented as a narrative is not a slice of life story. Neither is a book review or a giveaway. Please do not link to whatever was on your blog that day.  Our goal is to build a community of writers through story. We hope you honor that request by sharing your stories with the Slicer community.

QUESTION: I write on a collaborative blog with another teacher friend. Will it count if I write on the even days and my friend writes on the odd days?

ANSWER: Each person must participate in all 31 days of the Challenge if you’d like to be in the running for prizes. Each of you should be writing a slice of life story and linking to your slice of life story every day in March in order to be considered as having fully participated in the Challenge.

QUESTION: How do I know whose post to comment on?

ANSWER: We’ve never set rules like “comment on the previous three commenters’ posts.” I’ve never wanted to mandate who people should connect with.  Just because you like to post at 8:00 p.m., doesn’t mean the people who posted from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.’s posts will resonate with you.

Typically, people write a sentence or two about their slice of life story when they leave a comment. Read those teasers.  That might help you decide whose blog posts to read.

QUESTION: What if no one comments on my blog?  Should I stop writing?

First of all, if you’re a new Slicer, make sure you let us know that when you fill out the participant information form. From there, we’ll dispatch someone from the Welcome Wagon Team to greet you within the first four days of the Challenge.

Second, ask yourself, “Am I writing too much?”  Sometimes people who write longer slices lose their readers before they get to the end of the piece. Slice of Life stories don’t have to be lengthy.  Think 300 – 700 words.

Third, make sure you’re commenting on other people’s slice of life stories.  Part of being part of a writing community means getting to know other writers in the community.  If you’re stopping by other people’s blogs and leaving comments, chances are they’ll visit your blog and leave a comment on your slice of life story.

If you aren’t feeling the comment love by the end of week one, then shoot me, Betsy or Dana an e-mail.  We don’t want anyone to stop writing because they feel as though their voice isn’t being heard.

A few more things:

  • If you haven’t read “Join Our Writing Community,” which is a post that contains essential information about the challenge, click here to read it now.
  • Should you have questions about getting started with this Challenge, please contact:
    • If your last name begins with the letters A – I, please e-mail questions to Betsy, betsymhubbard{at}gmail.com.
    • If your last name begins with the letters J – R, please e-mail questions to Dana, dmurph08{at}sbcglobal.net.
    • If your last name begins with the letters S – Z, please e-mail questions to Stacey, stacey{at}staceyshubitz.com.
  • Feel free to leave a comment (below).
  • Michelle Nero, a longtime Slicer, shared “10 Tips for the Challenge” on her blog today. She has some extremely useful tips (like don’t be afraid to write short) and ones I never thought of (like using IFTTT to pre-set your blog posts). Click here to read her tips now.

See you on Sunday!