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I’ve been browsing through some of Jill Walker’s posts on her blog, http://jilltxt.net, and one of the things that I found especially interesting was her explanation of the importance of narrativity in a blog. Readers enjoy stories, and if you can tell a story or relate a process in your blog, you can hold readers’ interest as well as keep yourself focused on a goal. Some of the examples of narrative blogs that she gives are weight-loss blogs, blogging one’s battle with cancer, the process of achieving a PhD (which she did!) or any other quest for any personal goal. Jill says that these blogs are successful because readers are familiar with the plotline but they don’t know how exactly each new day will go, so they continue to read in order to find out and keep up with the story. When you achieve your original goal, you can still keep going with your blog–all you have to do is find a new goal or some other story to tell about yourself.
Another interesting point that she brought up was the fact that blogging about an illness is one way of owning the illness and attempting to have some measure of control over it. As she says, “because being sick in itself is an abdication of privacy.” People who have a serious illness have to endure all sorts of things being done to them by other people that were they well, they would certainly never volunteer for! But when you acknowledge it, talk about it, and refuse to let it beat you, then you can feel more in control. Blogging is an excellent way to do that, and it also provides a sort of therapeutic way of expressing your feelings and frustrations.
I had never thought about why people enjoy certain blogs so much, but Jill’s explanation of the idea of narrativity helped me define that elusive quality. Everybody loves a good story, and when someone can tell their story in an informal, engaging, and accessible way, lots of people will want to read it. Something quite obvious when you think about it, but something that I had never really considered before!