Saturday, March 23, 2019

SOL 2019 -- Day 23 -- Letter to the SOL Writing Community







Slice of Life story challenge, March 2019
Day 23 -- Letter to the SOL Writing Community
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Dear Slice of Life Writers,

I’ve been participating this month in the Two Writing Teachers’ annual writing challenge -- the Slice of Life Story Challenge -- for my third year in a row. Each time, the challenge has been an interesting experience, and I learned a lot about writing each time. The first year, my experience was encouraging and exhilarating, and I had a blast! :-) The second year, I had much less encouragement, but I still had fun and learned a lot. This third year, with more than a week still to go, my experience has been far different from the previous years. Why? I am missing the fun. To be more exact, I am missing the fun which comes from the sense of community.

I don’t really feel like I’m part of the SOL writing community this year. I am certainly trying to be! I’m writing and posting daily, I’m reading (and thoroughly enjoying!!) other slicers’ posts, and I’m commenting on other slicers’ posts -- usually more than the minimum requirement of three comments. I’m attempting to encourage others in their writing. I’m trying to make my own writing interesting, and I’m trying to leave an interesting hook when I post my permalink on the Two Writing Teachers website each day, to maybe catch the interest of potential readers. I also put some info about myself, with a link to my blog, on the Padlet that Kathleen Sokolowski create
d to help slicers connect with each other. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing. 

So, what is the problem, you ask? Why am I not feeling as if I’m part of the community?

The problem is that I am getting very few readers from the Slice of Life writing community, and even fewer commenters. If it weren’t for one person -- Ramona from Pleasures From the Page (https://pleasuresfromthepage.blogspot.com/) -- I would have had zero comments on my blog for the past 8 days. ZERO.  Z-E-R-O.  For eight days.  Considering that there are 200+ people participating in this writing challenge, those are some pretty bleak statistics. Do you know how deflating those statistics are to my fragile writer ego? ;-)


I’ve never considered myself to be a good writer, but I’m trying to improve. That’s the reason why I started this blog in the first place -- to improve my writing and challenge myself. And I have decided that I will continue to challenge myself, in spite of the lack of comments from others this March. I intend to complete the Slice of Life story challenge again this year, and I intend to continue writing beyond that. It’s not as much fun for me when I know that I’m practically the only one reading my writing, but I have put on my Big Girl Pants ;-) and decided to forge on anyway. I still want to improve myself. :-)

So, SOL writing community, this is where YOU come in. This is where I am asking for your help!

If you are reading this, PLEASE leave a comment and let me know what I am doing wrong. How can I improve my writing? How can I make my writing, and this blog, more interesting? I am hoping to leave this blog -- with all my random thoughts and stories, experimental poems and lists, and all types of writing -- for my children and grandchildren to read some day, so that they can know me a bit better, so that my thoughts can become part of their history. How can I improve my writing and my blog so that people actually want to read it? I need your feedback. I need your constructive criticism. Really.

If you have read all the way to the end of this letter, I commend you and thank you for that. If I can ask for just a bit more of your time, please leave a comment. Pretty please with words (better than sugar) on it.  ;-)  ;-) Thank you!

With appreciation,
JudyK :-)


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JudyK :-) March 23, 2019

37 comments:

  1. Hi there/ I'm a first time slicer, and as such, have a "guardian angel commenter" for whom I am eternally grateful.
    The comments are really helpful, even if you feel like you don't need praise. So I relate to what you are saying and wonder if I will have the same issue when I am not a first time slicer. Your writing goals are admirable, and your family is audience enough for a lifetime. Do it for yourself and for them, and keep at it!

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  2. Oh Judy, I am so sorry this has happened. I don't have an answer for everyone, but I do have one of my own. It is difficult to keep up with the commenting. I try to get to as many as I can, but some days it may just be three. and I am sorry that I have not made here to your space. You have written from your heart, and that is the kind of writing I like to read.

    I hope you continue to write because that is the only way we do get better. I also encourage you to slice on Tuesdays and build those community relationships. I know you are probably saying, "Yeah, right" after these last few days. But during the year, things slow down and there are not as many slicers. It does give more time to enjoy and build that community. I have met some wonderful people in real life as a result of slicing, including Ramona who you mentioned! She is a jewel! Some are now dearest friends.

    I commend you for continuing, as I am sure you may feel quite defeated. But please carry on and keep writing!

    Leigh Anne

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    1. Thank you, Leigh Anne! It was not my intention to make you or anyone else feel bad. I know how hard it is to find the time to comment on more than three blogs every day! And there are so many people participating in the challenge that I know it's not likely that anyone would be able to get to every person's blog, even over a month's time....I know that I haven't been able to! So I understand how easy it would be to not receive any comments, and I wasn't taking it personally. But after eight straight days of only one person commenting a few times...well, I had decided that people must be avoiding my blog because my writing wasn't good enough. Whether I was right or wrong about that, I really didn't know. But if my writing wasn't good enough, I wanted to know so that I could try to improve it.

      Thanks for the encouragement to continue writing. I am going to try! :-) ~JudyK

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  3. Hi, Judy K. I'm Tracy. I am a first year slicer. I'm so glad to see your blog and wish I'd known about it sooner. Your writing is fluent and down to earth. I enjoy that type of writing. I am sorry that you are having this negative experience. I am glad we connected. I'll be stopping in frequently!

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    1. Thanks, Tracy! I appreciate your feedback! I wouldn't really say that this has been a negative experience...It just hasn't been as positive an experience as it has in the past. Writing has always been hard for me, and I guess I'm still somewhat insecure about it....Apparently I need to work on that. ;-) Thank you for your kind words! ~JudyK

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  4. Hi Judy,
    I am not participating in the March SOL Challenge this year even though I signed up and had every intention of writing every day like i’ve Some for the last 6 years or so. But getting sick for most of the month put a damper on that plan! In any case, I want to thank you for your raw honesty in writing this post. I have felt that way, on and off, during the years I’ve participated in this challenge. I think there’s no glaring reason why someone may not be getting comments. I keep writing regardless, like you’ve determined to do. I think you may be interested in linking your post to other social media sites to get an even broader reach. You may also want to tag certain people to get them to comment. Finally, two things about blogging that I’ve learned about blogging is that more people will read than comment and that I need to keep my focus more on the content and purpose of the post, and less on getting lots of comments. Stick with it. Write about what’s important to you. Respond to those who do comment. Keep writing.

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    1. Thank you, Elisa, for your encouragement! Yes, you are absolutely correct that I should write about what's important to me, and not worry about if anyone comments or not; I'll try to be better about that. And thanks for your suggestions about linking to social media and tagging people. I don't know how to do those things, but I can learn! :-) ~JudyK

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  5. Hi Judy ~

    First, there is NOTHING wrong with your writing or this blog. You have a fresh voice and are obviously very passionate about sharing your stories and writing.

    I also commend you for your honesty. I'm sure this post was not an easy one to write.

    Elisa mentioned sharing your posts through social media. Do you do that too?

    Finally, if you are on Facebook, I invite you to join my FB group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/348136095622823) and be active there. Every afternoon, I post an "I Did It" post where you can share a link or a few words about any writing you did that day. If you are consistent, it is a great way to meet others, get some feedback, and grow your writing life. (Elisa, Leigh Anne & Tracy who commented above are also in this group and in my Wednesday night writing workshop -- which may interest you too. https://www.teachwriteacademy.com/)

    Most importantly -- KEEP WRITING. That's what it's all about. :))

    Jen

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    1. Teach Write has helped me tremendously, Judy! The Wednesday night writing group that Christie mentions in her post is truly a writing family now. I love Wednesday nights and Teach Write!

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    2. Thank you, Jen, for your kind words! No, I don't share my posts through social media, but I intend to learn how to do that. Yes, I am on Facebook and will look for your group, thank you! I appreciate all your encouragement! :-) ~JudyK

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    3. Thank you, Tracy V, for your input! I intend to check out the writing groups. Thanks so much! :-) ~JudyK

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  6. It's so disheartening, I think when this kind of thing happens! Thanks for your honest letter. Sometimes I have a few days in a row of no comments, or I compare my 3 comments with someone else's 15 and it's a little tough. Usually, in any community I'm in... it takes me a little while to get to feel like I'm really a part of it. And those are some lonely times, I think.

    This March has been the hardest one for me, comment-wise. I'm not sure why... I'm just so busy and so tired, that I've only been able to do 3 each night, instead of most years, when I try to have times when I do so many... one recent year I commented on everyone who posted one day!

    I'm sorry you are feeling this way - and it's inspiration to me to be a better commenter!

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    1. Thanks so much for your feedback! I'm sorry I made you feel bad in any way. I thought my writing must be at fault for the lack of comments, so I was just trying to find out how to improve it. Your comment has helped me feel better about the situation. Thank you! :-) ~JudyK

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  7. Thank you for your honesty. This is something I've experienced as well. This year, especially, I get very little feedback or comments on posts. I try not to take it personally ;) As a commenter, I also try to comment on posts that don't have many. Usually, if I open a post and it already has 10 comments, I skip it.

    But, I've also tried to remind myself that really, I'm writing for me. It feels good to stretch the muscles. It's kind of like working out: it can be frustrating if nobody notices when you've lost weight, but it feels good when you know it.

    Good luck with this last week!

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    1. Thank you, Angela, for your thoughts! Yes, I am writing for myself, and I appreciate you reminding me of that. And since I AM writing for myself, I know that I need to worry less about what others think of my writing. Thanks for your encouragement, and I wish you good luck for the last week of the challenge as well! :-) ~JudyK

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  8. Hey Judy, I'm so sorry-it can be really tough to put yourself into your writing and not get any responses. I'm not sure how I've missed you all these days, the past two weekends I've responded to over 75 blogs each and I feel bad that I've missed yours. I would encourage you to check out the TeachWrite group on Facebook. We've been trying to read and respond to one another's slices all month. Do you share on social media?
    Kudos to you for sticking with it even when it seems like it has just been for yourself. I blogged my first year with an audience that I could count on one hand! LOL! It still felt good to put myself and my ideas out there. I hope you have that same sense of accomplishment no matter how large or small your audience is.

    I'm going to go back through some of your posts and do some reading tonight. Thanks for your honest appeal to the Slice of Life community-we are all here for one another as best as we can be. Keep slicing!!

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    1. Paula, thanks so much for your words of wisdom! I do intend to check out the TeachWrite group on Facebook, and I will look into learning how to share on social media. And I DO intend to keep slicing. Thank you for the encouragement! :-) ~JudyK

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  9. Hi Judy! We'd love to have you join the Teach Write community. Are you on Facebook? I've been a member for about a year now and I can honestly say it has helped me to grow as a writer in more ways than I'd ever imagined. It's a wonderful, supportive community that is active daily. I've also been a part of the 90-minute weekly accountability group for a few months, and writing with them is truly the highlight of my week. This smaller subset of TW has become my true writing family. I hope you will consider joining us either on FB or online. And keep slicing. We'll finish strong together, and continue meeting up on Tuesdays with TWT! -- Christie

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    1. Thank you, Christie, for your suggestions! I'm going to check out the groups you mentioned, and I'm also going to try to continue slicing on Tuesdays with TWT. I appreciate your encouragement very much!! :-) ~JudyK

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  10. I am so glad that I discovered your blog! Please don't stop writing because your voice is important and you have so much to share! I love how you want this blog to be something to pass along to your children and grandchildren. What a wonderful gift to give them!

    I also encourage you to check out the Teach Write Facebook page and the weekly writing workshop. We'd love to have you as a part of the group!

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    1. Jennifer, thanks so much for your feedback! I do intend to check out the writing groups. Your encouragement means a lot to me. Thank you! :-) ~JudyK

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  11. Hi Judy,

    Do you post your Slices at the same time every day? I have been wondering if that is a significant factor in regards to the amount of comments I receive.
    Keep Slicing! You are part of a community even though it appears to be invisible at the moment.

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    1. Hi, Heidi! No, I don't always post my slices the same time of day. I haven't thought about that as being too much of a factor, but I'm so glad you mentioned it; I'll have to give that some more serious thought. Thanks for your feedback, and thanks for the encouragement! :-) ~JudyK


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    2. Heidi has a good point about timing. I have found the later you post during the day, the fewer comments you receive. I'm on the east coast, so I'm not likely to read many posts after 6:00 or 7:00 pm my time, as I'm wrapping up my day and turning off technology. Just some food for thought.

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  12. Judy, I had to add you to my padlet of people whose names don't connect directly to their blog. And I did that because I wanted to find you and keep reading your posts. They are delightful and fun to read. That's a setting you can change in your platform, not sure if you're in Blogger or Wordpress or something else. But try to make that change. When we're speeding through and trying to leave comments, it's so much easier if clicking on the name leads to the person's blog.

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    1. Judy, I saw that you're on blogger, so I just went into mine to look for the setting that allows what I described. I couldn't find it, but I'm hoping that someone else on blogger can help you out.

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    2. Ramona, thank you so much for pointing that out! I know that my posts say J Koval, which is why I make sure to sign every post or comment as JudyK. But I can see how that could be very confusing for people. I definitely will look into trying to correct that problem, thank you. And thanks also for the kind words! I appreciate your input! :-) ~JudyK

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  13. I'm so glad you wrote this letter! Something similar happened last year to a 3rd year slicer and she ended up quitting the challenge because of the lack of community. Community, for me, really is what the slicing challenge is all about, and I would struggle mightily to keep going without that community too. I am going to try to write a post tomorrow about how to grow your own blogging community and readership. Hopefully there will be a few ideas you find helpful.

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    1. Oh my, Elizabeth, I would LOVE to get some ideas about how to grow my blogging community and readership! It has become quite apparent to me, through these comments today, that I don't know enough about the blogging world and how to do things effectively. Perhaps that's the cause of my recent struggles, more than my less-than-stellar writing? I'm hoping, anyway. ;-) Thank you for your thoughts! :-) ~JudyK

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  14. Thank you for your honesty. I haven't read your blog yet, so I'm glad I came across it today. I have felt the same way this year (my 9th year). My stats of views and comments have been way down compared to previous years. I wonder why that is.

    I think it's admirable that you are leaving your blog as a legacy for your children and grandchildren. I know they will appreciate it for years to come. Thank you for your vulnerability in this post. I think you have a unique voice in your writing.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words you've written! Several people have now told me that their statistics are lower this year, so I too have to wonder why that is. I appreciate your encouragement and feedback! :-) ~JudyK

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  15. Just discovered I'd already written everything I have to say on the topic of getting more comments, so I'll just share that slice from last year with you! I have read through some of your slices this month, and I definitely think the issue is growing your audience and readership, not the quality of your writing. You write just the kind of slices I and many other readers enjoy reading and commenting on! (I think some of the comments share additional tips for getting more comments, so take a look at those too: https://thedirigibleplum.wordpress.com/2018/03/07/want-more-comments-12-tips-for-finding-your-audience-slice-of-life-sol18-7-31/)

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    1. Thank you so much, Elisabeth! I'll definitely check out your slice from last year. I SO appreciate your taking the time to look at my blog and give me advice!!! I hadn't realized how much more there is to blogging than the bare basics I was doing; I am excited about learning more, and hoping to do a better job in the future! :-) ~JudyK

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    2. Elisabeth, I just read your slice from last year, and oh my, I have a lot to learn about this whole blogging thing! Your slice (and the comments following it) has shown me a few things that I'm doing right, but also many mistakes I am making. I am understanding a few things much better now, and I'm so appreciative for your help with this! Thank you again! :-) ~JudyK

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  16. Hi Judy! I am a second year slicer! I'm still learning a lot about slicing and writing too... I am not sure I have the best advice to offer except to tell you that you're not alone.... I've often felt this way too! I try to remind myself that although I like comments, it's not why I participate... you are right though, it adds to the fun. Hang in there.

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  17. Hi Aunt Judy,
    Better than sugar? Would that be like maple syrup? (I am licking my lips and getting very excited right now.) I think that attracting people to a blog post is a huge challenge and has nothing to do with your writing. I think that writing for your children and grandchildren is a good goal. (Just make sure that you save it in a format that they can read in the future or maybe print a hard copy. Sorry, that was my innerlibrarian talking.) I would say write because it makes you happy and if other people read it then see that as a bonus!
    Have great day! - Rosanna

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Hi! Feel free to leave a comment -- I love hearing from people! (Please remember to leave your name with your comment.) :-)