Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Slice of Life A to Z

I'm not trying to ditch February, but the March Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres of  Two Writing Teachers is right around the corner. Essentially, to  meet the challenge you blog everyday for the month of March and link your blog "slices" to the challenge's main page on Two Writing Teachers. You can read more about it here. Last year I participated for the first time. Unlike other challenges (like the 365 photo challenge) I made it the month. It was so fun that I did a mini-challenge with students and have kept slicing on Tuesdays. 

Last week AmandaCornwell guest posted "Ten Tips for Creating an Electronic SOLSC for Students" on Two Writing Teachers and my friend,  Beth Scanlon, is drafting a guest post about slicing with students too. Others in the writing community (like Margaret's tips list at Reflections on the Teche and Terje's big list of topics at Just for a Month) are blogging tips to get started as well. All of this anticipation got me thinking.

So I played around with an A to Z list.  As I listed, I realized I was imagining how I can frame the challenge for my students. See what you think (It's a little long... that's what happens when you're home sick, but thankfully getting better and feeling bored). I may just use my list as part of our SOLSC kick off. 

A: anticipate, amaze, acknowledge, astound
Anticipate writing topics. Watch for what amazes and astounds you. Acknowledge it.

B: be, brave, broadcast
Be on the lookout for writing topics. Brave the challenge of writing every day. Think of it as a broadcast—what will your headlines say for the day?

C: create, comment, celebrate, community, color
Don’t let your inner-critic color your creative process. The Slice of Life Story Challenge is about celebrating life’s moments and commenting in order to connect and build community with fellow writers.

D: discover, deepen, draw, design, diagram
Writing is discovery. Drawing from your experience and beliefs, it deepens your connections to the world and helps you design and diagram your future self.

E: engage, envelope, elucidate
Engage in the process. Let it envelope you and elucidate your thinking.

F: flahoolick, fun, fierce, finger
Writing can be flahoolick—open-hearted, generous, fun—but it can also be fierce, close-to-the bone truths that you are driven to finger.

G: gift, give, generous, grateful, good
Think of the Slice of Life Story Challenge as a gift, a gift of community, a gift of generosity. There is a spirit of community good that develops as we work and write together. Enjoy that. Be grateful for the good writing days.

H: heed, hope, honest, heart
Heed the fleeting idea. When something comes to you, jot it down. Watch for hope. Write with honesty and an open heart.

I: imagine, illustrate, images
Imagine. Just do it. Picture your dream (car, job, classroom, trip, outfit, cell phone, you name it). Then illustrate it—use words to build images in readers’ imaginations.

J: juggle, jive, jilt
Life happens. People get sick. We all get busy. Saying you do not have time to write is a just jive talk. No excuses. Juggle what you need to do. Don’t jilt the writing.

K: know, knead
Knead your ideas. Work them over in your mind until they feel loose, warm and elastic like a loaf of bread ready to rise. Then you’ll know what to write.

L: learn, laugh, loathe, linger, love
We can’t help but learn from writing together. There will be slices you love, slices you linger over, slices that make you laugh and slices you loathe.

M: model, mentor, make
Find a model or a mentor text. It could be a poem, a short story lead, an opinion piece, a commercial script. Find what you like and try and make it your own.

N: narrate, noodle
When you noodle around you improvise. Often your slice writing will be first-draft noodling around. Narrate. Tell us your story and how you got there.

O: ogle, open, olio
Keep your eyes and hearts open. What do you ogle? Compile an olio—a miscellany—use that one day.

P: ponder, peruse, persuade, photograph, puzzle, paint, paragraphs
Writing is thinking made visible. Ponder, peruse, persuade, puzzle out what’s been taking up your thoughts lately. Paint pictures with your words or use photographs alongside your paragraphs.

Q: question, quicken
Questions quicken curiosity. Capitalize on that.

R: read, respond, revise, rewrite
Read your posts aloud before your publish them. That will help you see if there are places you need to revise or rewrite. It will also give you a sense of how readers will respond to the “sound” of the writing.

S: say, state, smile, suggest, sketch, sing
We all have something to say. State your piece. Your readers (or the slices you read) might also suggest topics you can sketch out. Make your writing sing and smile.

T: tinker, tip, toast
Tinker with something new: a new form, a new genre, a new word. You’ll find plenty of slicing tips in the writing community and we will all toast our success at the end of the challenge.

U: uncover, understand
Writing uncovers. It reveals and helps us understand the world and people in it. Use that power.

V: vent, vow, view, vociferous.
Occasionally you will find yourself wanting to vent. You will vow vociferously. View it as it is. Don’t veer too far from the course. Don’t get mired in negativity.

W: write, welcome, weave, wonder
Write, write and write some more. Weave welcome and wonder into your daily slices in order to grow as a writing and in community with others.

X: xray, Xerox
Use writing to xray a topic—dig beneath it’s surface and examine the structures beneath. Or Xerox it, copy it, imitate it, apprentice yourself to a writer you admire and try on their style or syntax.

Y: yawlp, yearn
Like Walt Whitman we have that barbaric yawlp within us that yearns to be heard. Let it out.

Z: zap, zing, zoom
Zap your inner-writer into action. Try out a few zinger endings. Zoom in on what matters in your life. Write away!


  1. Lee Ann, you made a very complete list. I hope you feel better soon. I look forward to seeing you in March during the Slice.

  2. Love this. I'm going to make a Pinterest board with all these idea slices pinned. That way, next month when I'm in a panic for a topic, they will all be there

    1. A Pinterest board is a great idea. I do love how Pinterest organizes things visually.

  3. What a thorough list.

    I'm going to to include this in Beth's post this-coming Sunday.

    1. Thanks Stacey. I had to laugh when I finished because I can't imagine being engaging to kids if I actually tried to use the entire list at once! But if I sample pieces from it perhaps that will hook them and help them anticipate their own slices.

  4. Thanks for the mention in your post. I love your A-Z list and will share it with my students. All the anticipation this year is exciting. Last year, I just jumped in with both feet not knowing what I was getting myself into. I hope this year I am more prepared as well as more open to the surprises.

    1. You're welcome Margaret. I enjoyed your ten tips too! Like you, I'm looking to be more prepared this year--that and I love anticipating things.

  5. Great word choices (a standard I used in a mini-lesson today) from a to z!

    1. Thanks! A to z lists are fun to play with, aren't they?

  6. I am so impressed with this! Thanks for sharing it.

    1. My pleasure, Kathleen. You're writing voice impresses me! I love stopping by your blog. Are you thinking of having your students do the slice of life challenge?

  7. Just bookmarked your post! So many ideas in such a concise way! Thank you for inspiring!

    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  8. Terrific, Lee Ann, & Deb, thanks for the idea to use Pinterest for everyone's ideas. Lee Ann, you've already started my thinking. You had good advice too. I'm glad Stacey is going to share this, especially for the new sliersl

    1. Thanks, Linda. It was fun to play with. I like Deb's idea too. Will you have any students or teachers slicing at your school this year?