What the SOL Challenge Means to Me

The Slice of Life Challenge is a very important part of who I am. Seven years ago, I took a risk and put myself (and my thoughts) out there for the world to see when I joined the SOL Challenge, and I’ve been excited ever since.

I had been following TwoWritingTeachers for about a year, and I loved reading all their posts about the art of teaching writing. I soaked in all the knowledge that they had to give. I shared posts with my friends and colleagues, tried out new ideas in my classroom, and spent hours poring through archived posts, jotting down ideas for later use. One March, I saw the SOL Challenge posts and wondered, What’s this all about? I read some of the slicers’ posts, and sometimes even commented, but thought, There’s no way I could do that! Who has time to write every day? And what would I even write about? Fast forward to the next February. I had convinced myself I would give it a try. I created a blog and once March came, I began sharing my stories. I didn’t post every day that first year, but I put myself out there, and I was proud of that.

I’ve now been posting for seven years, and I’m a huge fan! I tell everyone I know that they just have to try it out with me. Just dip your toes in. Start a blog, write some slices, see where it takes you. Most people look at me like I’m crazy. But a handful have taken me up on the offer, and I’ve sliced alongside friends and colleagues. We’ve learned more about one another, supported one another, and grown closer in the process. Some continue slicing the next year and some don’t, but all of them are glad they tried it.

What I love most about the challenge is that it pushes me as a writer. I cultivate a habit of writing each and every day, whether I have something profound to say or not, whether I feel like it or not. The quote is true. The only way to become a writer is to carve out time daily to write. I look forward to this challenge before it begins, and I mourn it when it’s over. I need that daily deadline to consistently put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I’ve also grown immensely as a writer through the years. Looking back on my old posts, I can see how my craft has evolved. I am more fluent, more engaging, and try out a variety of techniques now. I can always improve, as we all can, but I am proud of the progress I have made thus far. Over the years, I have also become more open and vulnerable in my writing, something I had always wanted to do. Prior to the challenge, I’d put up a mental block and I wasn’t fully open in my writing. Through the support of other slicers and their examples of laying it all out there, I have begun opening up and showing more of who I am.

I have also grown to love this writing community. This community embraces everyone, pulling us into the fold, and supporting us with their heartfelt comments. I know it’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again. Comments fuel writers. Knowing we have an audience who’s reading our words is important, but knowing we touched someone else enough to leave a comment is magical. Comments leave me with an understanding that what I say matters. Through the course of my time on the challenge, I have cultivated friendships with other slicers. Even though we’ve never been in the same room (or the same country in some cases), by reading one another’s thoughts, we share a bond. We learn to care about one another. It’s an unconventional friendship, I admit, but I cherish the relationships I have made with Elsie Stacey, Sandy, Karpenglish, Amanda, Leah, and Anne, among others.

One of the coolest things about this challenge is that I have a time capsule of one month of my life for the past seven years. Not many people can say that! Looking back at my slices is a window into my life. And for some reason, March tends to be an eventful month! I’ve had multiple injuries, many adventures, and lots of normal day-to-day stuff, too. I enjoy looking back and reminiscing on the person I was then, wondering whether I would have done the same thing as the me I am now.

As a traveler and an expat, I try to write blog posts about my life abroad, but I fall short and typically only post a few times a year, but the SOL challenge gives me ample opportunity to write not only about my travels (I’ve been on Spring Break every March except this year- my holiday is next week.), but about my life as an expat in another country. I have lots of random posts about China, Albania, and now Thailand. This challenge gives me the opportunity to treasure these moments, no matter how small. When I’m 70 years old, sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows with my niece and nephew and their kids, I’ll tell them about my adventures. And when my old, tired brain doesn’t remember all the details, I’ll have my slices to look back on to remind me.

This challenge is a gift, and I am forever grateful to TwoWritingTeachers for hosting it, and to the SOL writing community for continuing to support me year after year.


21 thoughts on “What the SOL Challenge Means to Me

  1. dandre3

    I love your reflection on the challenge. It’s hard to imagine writing every day. Your advice “Just dip your toes in.” is perfect. It does provide a time capsule for us to look back on. I started a new blog last July hoping to capture my last year in fifth. Somehow I didn’t add many entries until March. I’m so glad the challenge provided an opportunity for me to reflect. Only one more day and we will have reached the finish line.

  2. lindabaie

    It’s a beautiful reflection, Aggie, and I’ve been there too all these years, have met some of the blogger friends, which was wonderful, and read their adventures, like yours. I love this: “a time capsule of one month of my life”. Have a wonderful break!

  3. shellymkeller

    I couldn’t agree more about the comments. It definitely does fuel you as a writer! I look forward to the comments I receive just as much as writing my slice. Audience is important!

  4. Adrienne

    A beautiful reflection. All of my family is across the country & border, around the Great lakes in Canada. I, too, get to keep them informed while I hone my writing craft. Slice of Life writing has improved my writing in so many ways.

  5. mlb1202

    So insightful and well written. I have really looked forward to your slices and hearing about your adventures. I also love how real, how vulnerable, and how honest you have been. Thanks for sharing!

  6. mkrueger

    So true! I agree with you, this has been so rewarding. This was my first time doing it, even though I had done it with students in the past. I always felt like I wouldn’t have time or anything to say. I love what you said about it being a time capsule – so true. The comments are the best parts, too. I’ve enjoyed reading your slices πŸ™‚

  7. djvichos

    What a wonderful summary of what writing for the SOL challenge has meant to you! Your summary is packed with so much wisdom. I love that you’ve been able to open up more with your writing over the years and to make bonds with others in the community through commenting. That’s so cool! Sounds like those future marshmallow campfire will be filled with lots of great stories.

  8. Anne Donnelly

    Your reflection resonates with my own reasons for wanting to be a part of the challenge and -more importantly- this community!! I wasn’t as involved this year as I wanted to be, but I always appreciate reading and commenting and sharing with others!! Glad this has connected us πŸ™‚

  9. elsie

    I love watching the world through your pictures and words! You go places I know I will never get to visit. Your spirit shines through in every post (even when you can’t think of what to write). Enjoy your travels next week and I hope you will be able to dip your toes into the water. πŸ™‚


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