Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Borrowed Idea No 1: Stock and Flow

Emma Brockes is a clever woman and an engaging speaker, so I feel no shame in regurgitating her ideas. 

If you read yesterday’s post, you know that it was my very great pleasure to attend a writers’ event in Oxford at the weekend, and Emma Brockes was the first speaker of the day, talking about her writing experiences, and about blogging and digital media in particular. 

She talked about two working practices that I have also adopted over the years, but had never really thought about or expressed in any coherent way. Emma did, though, and I think her ideas bear repeating.

Anyone who has studied Economics or Accountancy will have come across the idea of stock and flow where a flow variable is measured over an interval of time and a stock variable is measured at a point in time...

Yeah, you’re right, that’s enough of that!

Here’s how it works the way that Emma talked about it. Flow is your every day output. Flow is your Twitter activity, Facebook updates, blogs and anything else that accumulates over time. Flow is the stuff you put out into the world that is short-lived, but gives you a constant and recognisable presence. Flow is the stuff that keeps your name in front of people. Flow builds your profile.

The truth is that most people have some flow. Even my mother has a Facebook page. Take my nephew, he has a Facebook page and a Twitter account and even a blog. Those things are connected, and he uses the first two every day. His network is social and personal, and his blogging is erratic, and that’s as far as it goes. 

I need something else, and so does anyone who has any ambition to be a writer. Facebook is less and less useful, but I have a Twitter account and, perhaps most importantly for me, a blog. I blog almost every day, and I advertise my blog on Twitter. Sometimes my posts are personal, and my opinions certainly are, but I set out with a sort of manifesto when I began blogging, and I’ve tried to stick to it.

Stock is the big stuff, and I write quite a lot about my stock in my flow. Stock is the novel that might one day be published. Stock is the book I’m collaborating on with the husband that will be published. Stock is the latest bit of paid work. Stock is the big piece of work that is on my desk for a year, or even longer, which is why I talk about it in my flow, so that the world is aware of it, so that the publicity machine is up and running, so that, when it’s time, the engine’s running in the marketing department that is word of mouth and personal recommendation.

It’s a big world out there, and every body’s competing for their share of their little corner of it. All flow might be fun and it's fine for most people, but it won’t pay the mortgage, but... here’s a thing... For most of us, all stock won’t pay the mortgage, either. The world needs to know who you are, and to that end, most of us need to be out in it, to have a fairly constant public profile that everyone and anyone can access easily. If a Google name search doesn’t put you top of the list and date you in the last few days you’re flow isn’t good enough to promote your stock when it's available, and when you want people to shell out their hard-earned cash for it.

So... Let’s hope those 315 blogs last year paid off!

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