What Does It All Mean? Finding Your Blog’s Big Picture

by Kendra on February 24, 2011 · 9 comments

When you write a post do you think about how that post will fit within your meta-narrative?

No? Not even a little? You don’t even know if your blog has a meta-narrative? Then…we need to talk. Pull up a chair and grab your bowl of oatmeal. Today, we’re going to talk about the meaning of life…well the meaning of your blog’s life anyway.

So, what is a meta-narrative exactly? It’s the overarching story that explains and gives merit to individual events or stories. Every culture, mythology, and worldview has a meta-narrative.

And…what exactly does this have to do with your blog?

Your meta-narrative determines the synopsis, the mission statement, and the structure of your blog.

In order for your blog to feel cohesive, you need to have a meta-narrative, especially if it is a multi-interest blog or if you do a lot of lifecasting. It sets the context for everything that you write. Even if you don’t do any lifecasting, your blog still does tell a story, and you need to decide what that story is going to be.

My meta-narrative is summarized in my blog’s tagline: “Weight loss through introspection and jogging in stilettos.” It means, “I’m going to tell you about my weight loss, the issues I deal with during weight loss, and my slightly crazy adventures in the meantime.”

When you’re choosing topics for future posts, think about how each of those fits into and contributes to your meta-narrative. Sometimes things just don’t fit in. If you blog about weight loss, there really is no feasible way to fit in a post about the linguistic structure of the Indonesian Language (not that I’ve tried in hopes that my junior project didn’t go to waste). Don’t worry, though — there are other ways to show off your nerdery.

You can put some of those things that don’t quite fit the meta-narrative of our blogs at first glance into a context that makes it totally appropriate. Ashley did this a few days ago when she discussed her engagement anniversary. AJ also did this when she wrote what is possibly the only cat post to actually have legitimacy in the healthy living blogosphere. She also got bonus points for having pictures of a cat in a stroller, I mean, OMG. And Marie just plain manages to make pretty much any topic seem totally and completely relevant.

Each of them approached the subject in a specific context and because of that, they were able to discuss something that seemingly had nothing to do with their meta-narrative and made it 100 percent relevant.

Using a meta-narrative can be a great way to mentally organize your blog. It’s a little looser than using specific categories and can have a more natural feel; the fact is, not everything in life fits into a specific category.

So take a minute and think about what you want your blog’s meta-narrative to be. Write it down. Now take a few more minutes to look through your blog posts over the last few weeks. Do these posts convey what you wrote down? Are they tied together by that theme? If not, what story do those posts tell and how does that compare?

Feel free to share your meta-narrative below! We’d love to read them!

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Becca February 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm

*Gasp* I’m shocked you don’t read Health for the Whole Self! I’m 100% not a cat person, and even I thought Katie’s recent cat series was legit for a health blog. Animals are proven to make us healthier, so discussing how they make you feel good is a valid exercise.
Becca´s last post ..Stuff I Really- Really Need

Rachel Wilkerson February 24, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I think that is true, but so many bloggers don’t frame it as how pets make you feel good. They are just like, “Nothing to write about today. ISN’T TEH KITTY CUTE OMG?!?!?!” That’s totally exploiting your pet for dealing with writers’ block. Anyway, I think that you nailed exactly what Kendra is saying though — that things like pets CAN be relevant if you take an extra few minutes to MAKE them relevant!

Paige February 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Agreed! I can’t tell you how many posts I have stopped reading once I came to a series of fifteen cat pictures. Honestly, I’ll never think you pet is as cute as mine, no matter how many random photos you include while imploring me to comment on its adorableness.

On the other hand, tell me how your pet has totally changed your life, and I’m interested!
Paige´s last post ..Mercury- Lead- Phthalates- and Other Scary Things We Might As Well Be Eating

Kendra February 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm

You know, this is probably one of the major reasons I never showed pictures of my cat (besides her not really having relevance to my blog until recently), no one can really properly appreciate her cuteness and no, I’m sorry, your cat just isn’t cuter than mine.
Kendra´s last post ..The Rules Are Back

Becca February 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Anyway… Relevant to the actual conversation comment coming up! Soz…

I changed from the rather twee “Becca Loves” to the more realistic “Becca Said” because it wasn’t really my voice. I love some things, but some things really bug me. Because of that, my meta-narrative is pretty much “this is what I’m thinking about”. I have ideas for posts on things nobody told me about pregnancy, the crazy people I’ve encountered on eBay, honeymoon recaps and my thoughts on politics from one side of the Atlantic to the other.
Becca´s last post ..Stuff I Really- Really Need

Lisa February 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm

This is something I think I did right with my blog! :) I knew I wanted to share stories about my weight loss journey, contemplate how my life changed, but mostly I wanted to share my life and show that MAINTENANCE can be fun! I’ve maintained my weight loss by balancing life and I think the “lifecasting” I do shows that.

This is a cool topic and good “food for thought.” Thanks!

D February 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

What a good post! It seems like what happens is the blogger starts out in one genre, or with one type of mission statement, and then gain populatory, at which point they have more of a ‘relationship’ with readers, and then they feel like they want to and can share more of their life. Which is fine, except it tends to totally deviate from their initial ‘big picture’. (But is it just me, or does this happen WAY more with health living blogs than other types?)

It’s like, a health living blogger has tons of followers and a few people ask where they got their shoes/purse/headband/earrings/ankle bracelet, and all of a sudden they are a fashion blogger too. And then they move in with their boyfriend, and oh, they’re a DIY blogger! And they have cute pets…and fun vacations…and a running regime…etc etc etc and all of a sudden, they’re a ‘life’ blogger with no discernible goal or theme.

Joanna B February 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm

This is why I love this blog, you ladies make me think about things that would never ever cross my mind. Prior to reading this post I never knew a meta-narrative existed and had no idea that it would do me some good to care about having one. I’m not a trained writer, I’m a graphic designer with a passion for healthy eating and fitness so all of the tips I read on here about writing are very helpful.

I am in a transition with my blog and narrative. I started my blog as a 60 day challenge to form new healthy habits that included 6 different actions I would take for 60 days. And then those 60 days passed and I realized I loved blogging, but had no interest in spending my life doing 60-day challenges. I have since just kept going with writing but I think sometimes I am a little lost for how to have it all make sense together. Can you provide any tips on how to determine the meta-narrative? Or how to decide what will make sense for me?
Joanna B´s last post ..I killed the camera

Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} February 26, 2011 at 1:38 am

This is definitely something I have tried to be conscious about. When planning a post, I always ask myself, “Does this fit within the theme of my blog?” I guess it’s the {former} teacher in me. I hate disorganized writing!
Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}´s last post ..Dairy-Free Carob Pudding

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