The New Slicer’s Survival Guide to the March SOLSC

Congratulations!

You have signed up to take part in the Two Writing Teachers 13th Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge! (Haven’t signed up yet? Go here!) You have made a commitment to grow as a writer and to be an educator who walks the walk when it comes to teaching writing. You have joined a strong, smart, kind and generous community of educators who deeply value writing. We are thrilled you are here, about to embark on what many believe is a transformative month. 

March is 31 days long. (Take a deep breath.) You’ve committed to telling 31 stories from your daily life, in writing, and publicly sharing it via your blog. You’ve signed on to read at least 3 other blog posts each day and offer comments to those bloggers. Of course, you are doing this all while maintaining your “day job” (Don’t quit it!)  and all your other life obligations and passions. 

Will it be easy? No, nothing worth doing or accomplishing is ever easy.

But will it be worth it? Most certainly! Many educators who have taken the challenge have shared how the March SOLSC has helped them grow personally and professionally, as writers, teachers, and humans. There are also amazing prizes that you can win during the challenge and at the conclusion of the 31 days. You’ve got to be in it to win it, and you are IN it! 

Today’s post is your “Survival Guide to the SOLSC” with some tips and tools to make the month as successful for you as possible. I invite our TWT community to please offer more tips, tools and advice for our new slicers in the comments. 

 

What you need to start:

Beth Moore created this fabulous infographic that tells you all you need to get started in the 13th Annual SOLSC. You can also read her overview post here.

As you can see, you will need a blog to be part of this challenge. If you aren’t sure how to start a blog, check out this post. When I started the challenge back in 2015, I used Blogger and found it to be user-friendly as a brand new blogger. Last year, I switched over to Weebly. WordPress is another great platform which I use as part of the TWT co-author team. You can choose whatever platform works best for you!

Be sure you allow comments when you are in the settings of your blog. Comments are an important part of this challenge and you want to make it as easy as possible for other bloggers to comment. (You can turn off CAPTCHA as another way to make it less of a hassle to leave a comment.)

Please be sure you have officially signed up via the Participant Information Form so you can be assigned a Welcome Wagon volunteer and be eligible for the incredible prizes!

Okay, I have a blog and I’m signed up! What happens on March 1?

Maybe use that one extra day we have this year in February to get inspired for your inaugural post! Come March 1, you will want to write a blog post and share it with our Two Writing Teachers Community. Need ideas for blog posts? More on that later! For now, let’s say your fingers flew over the keyboard in a flurry and you pressed publish. You will want to grab the permalink for your blog post. Permalinks are quite essential in this challenge and often confused. Stacey Shubitz, our Chief of Operations and Lead Writer, made an amazingly helpful and detailed presentation about how to find your permalink. PLEASE watch it here.

When I say “grab the permalink” I mean copy it from the url bar. Next, head back to the Two Writing Teachers blog. You will find a post that says “Day 1 of the March SOLSC #SOL20”. Click on this post! Read the post, especially the announcements! There is a lot of information to take in during the start of the challenge. The announcements will let you know who to contact if you have technical problems or questions about the challenge. There will also be a “Be Inspired!” section which will often offer quotes or mentor blog posts from other writers in the community. 

Scroll to the bottom of the post where the comment box is located. This is where you will paste the link to the blog post you wrote. You will want to write a 1-2 sentence teaser about your post and then paste your blog’s permalink. Here is an example of a teaser:

After you write your teaser, post your permalink, and press publish, you are 1/31 of the way to completing the challenge! (That doesn’t sound overwhelming at ALL.) Of course, you still have to comment on three other blog posts. (More about that later…)

What should I write about? What is a “slice of life”?

A slice of life is a story about a piece of your day or life. You can read a more detailed explanation here.

The Slice of Life Story Challenge is about stories- the small moments from your life that you share in narrative form. Would seeing some mentor “slices” help you to understand how these pieces go, the topics that bloggers sometimes write about and the length/format? I thought so! Please click here to see a collection of mentor slices from the past March SOLSC! 

Made with Padlet

Since this is a STORY challenge, please see Beth’s post about “band-aids” and the writing we do sometimes when we feel stuck. Sometimes the “band-aids” can be great for notebook writing and getting your juices flowing and can lead you to find the story you will write your blog post about. (Please do not try to sell anything in your blog post or link to something you previously published as your main writing for the day.) Also note, a slice of life is not a book review, a summary of professional development or a lesson plan. The heart and soul of the March SOLSC is STORY and we hope you will do your best to honor that this month. 

Let’s talk about comments…

Comments truly make our community. As a “new slicer”, you will be growing your audience, which takes time. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a lot of comments right away. TWT assigns a couple of “Welcome Wagon” bloggers to you as a new slicer. These generous bloggers will visit your site each day and comment on your blog posts to help you get started. It would be wonderful to visit the bloggers who comment on your site and offer comments on their posts from time to time, too. If someone visits your blog each day, it is courteous to visit their blog too, at least some of the time! 

It is up to you who you choose to comment on. You can read the teasers as a way to see which posts interest you. Even though we ask you to visit 3 blogs each day, feel free to visit more if you like! The more you read and comment on other bloggers writing, the more you will get to know the community and expand your ideas for your own blog posts. There are two prizes that relate to commenting (The Commenter of Quantity and the Commenter of Quality) so leaving plentiful and thoughtful comments could be rewarding in many ways. 

What are other ways to connect besides the TWT blog?

You can share your blog post on Twitter using #SOL20 to connect with other bloggers who are taking on the challenge. This is a great way to expand your PLN (Professional Learning Network).

Tips!

-Create a draft for each day of the challenge by making the title (#SOL20 Day 1) and saving it on your blog. Each day, you can just pull up the appropriate draft, write your blog post, then publish. Seeing all the posts ready and waiting to be written sometimes pushes you forward! 

I have started making drafts on my personal blog for the March SOLSC.

-Aim for a consistent writing routine, but be prepared for roadblocks and obstacles that will naturally come. (Late meetings, sick children, vacations, etc.) I always love to have my post written the night before, but I can write it before work or after if need be. Try to find a routine that works for you but then be flexible if you need to switch things around on a given day. 

-Wear your educator hat as you wear your writer hat. If something feels hard or frustrating as a writer, imagine how your students feel. Take note of it. How do you work your way through it? How can you help them to solve their writing problems too, based on your own process? If your students will take part in the April Classroom SOLSC this year, your experiences in March can become your teaching points for them! 

-Reward yourself along the way. The TWT prizes are fabulous but not every participant will win. Every year, I always buy myself something special at the end of the challenge. I feel I deserve it for having accomplished such a big goal! You can even set up smaller rewards for yourself- every week of blogging, you buy yourself something small or do something that feels a little special. Little rewards along the way will help you get to the finish line of March 31.

Tour Guides

You are not alone and your questions matter! Throughout the challenge, you’ll be assigned to a “concierge” who is a member of our team that can support you with all your SOLSC-related questions. You can find your assigned concierge listed in every SOLSC post, listed alphabetically by participant last names.

Please direct your question to the appropriate coauthor:

  • If your last name begins with the letters A-G, please email questions to Lanny Ball at lanny.ball[at]gmail.com.
  • If your last name begins with the letters H-M, please email questions to Kelsey Corter at kelseymcorter[at]gmail.com.
  • If your last name begins with the letters N-Q, please email questions to Betsy Hubbard at betsymhubbard[at]gmail.com.
  • If your last name begins with the letters R-U, please email questions to Melanie Meehan at meehanmelanie[at]gmail.com.
  • If your last name begins with the letters V-Z, please email questions to Beth Moore, beth[at]elizabethmoore.work.

Did you find a link that is not working? Having trouble with your own permalink? For these and other tech-specific questions, you can email Beth Moore, beth[at]elizabethmoore.work.

The TWT co-author team is here to help you! We began planning the March SOLSC in December and put a great deal of time, effort, heart, and soul into making this experience memorable and meaningful for you. We are here for you and hope you find the March SOLSC to be an experience you treasure.

Off You Go! 

March is around the corner, but you, my friend, are prepared! You’ve read this Survival Guide and you are in the know about all things slicing! Take the next few days to fire up your blog, open or enable your comments, notice the world around you and get ready to live like a writer for 31 days. You can do this! See you March 1!

TWT slicing veterans, please share your best tips for navigating the March SOLSC in the comments!