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Image Credit: Austin Kleon 

“A blog is the ideal machine for turning flow into stock.” Austin Kleon

I don’t have to start at the beginning. After pondering (for longer than I wanted to) how to introduce myself and my work to the world in my first blog post, I realized that I was making it harder than it needed to be. Reading about the concept of “stock and flow”* in Austin Kleon’s book ‘Show Your Work’ helped me to free myself from analysis paralysis and take action.

Flow is the daily stuff – the little bits and pieces. Stock is the bigger stuff – books, presentations, articles for major publication, etc. Stock is created over time by compiling the bits and pieces of flow.

At first, I thought I hadn’t been creating flow, but then I realized that journaling is a type of flow that just isn’t public. It’s my private flow practice. I decided to start blogging as a way to develop some public flow.

Each blog post doesn’t have to be polished and amazing. It’s the practice of producing flow regularly that will allow me to identify patterns and turn my flow into stock (i.e., valuable work!).

Reading about stock and flow generated an idea for outlining my own process for creating flow and turning it into stock. 

  1. Get any and every idea out of my head either by journaling (using the Morning Pages practice) or by talking it out and recording voice memos.
  2. Read my journal and listen to my voice memos to discover my main categories and subcategories. Group things into small chunks for blog posts.
  3. Read my blog posts and any other small chunks to create bigger chunks that I can turn into coaching modules, articles, presentations, workshops, webinars or books.

Once I have the smaller pieces, it will be easier for me to build the bigger pieces by bringing them together and developing transitions as I see how they relate to each other.

Now that I have a clearer picture of the process, I can see how to develop a plan for what to do daily, weekly and monthly to produce my flow, organize and turn it into stock, and grow my stock over time.

“Small things, over time, can get big.” Austin Kleon            

Lessons learned

  1. Don’t overthink it.
  2. Take action.
  3. Repeat.
  4. I’ll do it wrong (or at least, not perfectly) but it’s the only way to figure out how to do it right/better.

Side note: Right after I wrote this post, I visited Austin’s blog and immediately felt jealous of his writing and thought of changes I wanted to make to improve this post. Then I remembered the quote by Ira Glass about how everyone who does creative work has this gap in the early years between what you’re able to produce and your potential. The only way to fill this gap is through practice – to keep producing a volume of work so that “your work will be as good as your ambitions.” So yet again, I fought the urge to perfect this post (which means I would never finish it) and decided to hit publish. It’s good enough and I can move on to the next one.

* Austin Kleon got the idea of “stock and flow” from Robin Sloan, who adapted it to media from its origin as an economic concept.