Social commentary

‘We read to know we are not alone’: Two ingredients of a great blog

Blogs are a hyper-democratic form of journalism. Almost anyone can now publish their views and propagate them globally on social media.

This has created a deluge of opinion: the world more packed with people’s written thoughts than ever before.

I see blogs as a little like fast-food. They are quick, convenient to consume and can play a positive role in your life. But they shouldn’t make up too much of your diet.

Key ingredients

After writing online for the last 11 years, I have concluded that there are two key ingredients for a great blog post.

The first is quality of writing. Is the article truthful and coherent? Is it saying something worth saying? Is it concise, clear and readable? Has it avoided cliché?

The second is how much the article connects to your audience. Is it topical and relevant to contemporary issues? Does it relate to other people’s experiences. Is it genuinely helpful?

Hitting the sweet-spot

If the article is low in quality and has weak connectivity then its probably a duffer.

A low quality post with strong connectivity may spark immediate interest but this will probably fade quickly.

A high quality post with weak connectivity might be a slow-burner, gradually picking up interest over a longer period.

But when you write a post which has both high quality and strong connectivity, you hit the blogging sweet-spot. These are the posts that win respect and readership.

Significance of stories

I have found the key to enhancing both quality and connectivity is good story-telling. Ann Morisy has written perceptively about the significance of a ‘story-rich life’:

‘Stories provide a basis for ethical behaviour much more potently than reason because stories engage with all aspects of the person, and in particular the emotions. We experience a story, and experiences shape us in ways that abstractions cannot.’

Truth cannot just be proclaimed, it needs to be embodied.

The best blogs

Consequently, the best articles I have written have been reflections on real life experiences.

Some have been tragic events such as my cousin’s death. Some when I have been challenged, like when my son told me I was a nicer person without my iphone or I have faced other difficult personal situations.

Some have been hard experiences at work or embarrassing moments at conferences. And quite a few have been triggered by random encounters with strangers – see here, here and here.

Guest articles

Since writing this blog, I have encouraged others to write and have published around 180 guest articles.  Almost all have stemmed from me directly asking friends, family and colleagues to write about something I have heard them say, or that I know they have experienced.

It was listening to Chris Ward share his story of recovery from homelessness that led to us writing a booklet together. A talk by my brother Martin Kuhrt led to his article about his mental health. Recently talking to my old school mate Stephen Kemsley led to him writing about meditation or another school mate Andrew Ryland has written about his conversion to Christianity.

Why we read

I firmly believe that everyone has important stories to share. We should never downplay the significance of our experiences and what they tell us.

The film Shadowlands, about the life of C.S. Lewis, contains this famous line:

‘We read to know that we are not alone.’

Whether its long books or short blogs, good writing can help people know they are not alone. Sharing stories and our reflections on our experiences can help build bridges, inspire action and encourage others.  Good writing can express grace and truth. It can develop faith, sustain hope and deepen love.

Everyone has a story to tell. And I am keen to publish more guest posts about faith, social justice and transformation. Would you be up for sharing yours?

6 thoughts on “‘We read to know we are not alone’: Two ingredients of a great blog”

  1. “Truth cannot just be proclaimed, it needs to be embodied.” That feels like an Amen statement!
    I enjoy your blog Jon, and was honoured to be included one time as a guest writer.

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    1. Thanks Tobias – I always appreciate your ‘Amens’! You have been very encouraging over a long period – so many thanks. And it was great to have your contribution of an article drawn from your rich reflections on the Bible and theology.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m always up for sharing on other blogs. I do my own and share on Godspace.light.com.
    Feel free to check me out on aspirationaladventure.com and let me know what you think 🙂
    D X

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  3. You are absolutely right that the world more packed with people’s written thoughts than ever before and it is a real verity of life. I can say without any doubts that blogs have completely filled the internet space and they are in a huge demand now. I really like this idea about why we read because it is a truly effective method to abstract from solitude and feel that you are not alone. Of course, reading blogs helps find like-minded people and find ourselves in other people’s thoughts. Reading is the most effective way to get away from reality and become inspired. Of course, you are right that good writing can develop faith, sustain hope and deepen love because good writing can have a healing effect, getting you in the right direction. It is important to share your thoughts regarding what you care about because it can be truly necessary for someone.

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