The annoying act of telling people what you do
I am annoying
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A huge part of my job, and the job of most artists and creative people I know, is to tell people what we are doing. We don’t always understand how often to do it, when to do it, or if we are doing it too much or too little. We can see what other people are doing and feel into our own responses, but it still might not be enough to push us to sharing our own work at a frequency that would benefit our audience, community, and bank accounts.
Common things we say that feel like we are being annoying :
Come to my concert
Sign up for my online class
Pre order my book
Come to my art show
Buy my stickers
Hire me for consulting
Join my book club
Subscribe to my newsletter
Listen to my podcast
Buy my tinctures
Shop in my online shop
New prints are available
I’m available for taking photos
Listen to my demos
Low ticket sale alert
I have room for two more clients
Just released a new collection of jewelry
My tv show premieres tomorrow
You can still get tickets to the film release
Today I am featured in a magazine
I’d love for you to share this post
Come to my thing
Sign up for my thing
Did you know I am doing a thing?
When my students are afraid to make their art I don’t tell them - don’t worry people will love it. I tell them - you have to make your art because you don’t even know who needs it yet, but also people are going to hate it. People are going to think you’re annoying, unfollow, unsubscribe, tell their friends you’re weird and make bad art. How freeing. How freeing to not make art in hopes that those people like it, but despite their dislike for you! You might in fact, be annoying.
You might not speak publicly about what you do, but this may be relevant to the ways you interact with people close to you, ask for your needs to be met, and share about your experience of aliveness in your relationships.
One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is a podcast about online marketing by someone who is a multi millionaire. The energy of her podcast and her life and the friends she brings on are all incredibly annoying to me. And I tune in every week. I learn so much from this podcast. I don’t need to align with every part of this person’s life for her to be a good teacher to me. This is part one of being annoying - that you might be annoying and still be of great service to someone. This podcast host sends at least one email marketing newsletter to me every single day and I don’t even think of it as annoying. It is just part of her business plan which I opted in to experience. Some creative newsletters go out every day and people love to read them. The Daily, a New York Times podcast, famously comes out, every single day. I wonder if anyone there thinks thats annoying. I love knowing that I can always get a new episode each morning.
There are a few teachers in my life who I take all of their classes. I just love when they teach a class and it fits into my schedule and available budget. I am so glad they tell me dozens of times in their newsletter or social media or text me because otherwise I might completely forget or miss it. Depending on my mood one day it will land very differently than another day. Those people do not annoy me, but I imagine they might feel annoying marketing their work, worried they are reminding people “too much”. This is part two of being annoying, the internal feeling we are bothering, seeming needy, appearing pushy - when in reality we are just informing the people of the thing, and the people are grateful to be reminded.
Then there are people who annoy me because consuming their work isn’t actually in line with my desires. This could look like : a friend I really like who makes makeup. I don’t wear makeup. I don’t want to unfollow this friend because I want to support their work. But I can mute them or unsubscribe from the text reminders. When I do this it reminds me - my followers, readers, subscribers - all have the freewill to mute, unsubscribe, and move along. They have the opportunity to come back if they want. They can take my annoying book and put it in a free library on the corner of their block. When they are consuming my words and reminders they have opted in to that experience and get to decide how to be in relationship to it.
These words from
It is not my responsibility to guide someone on their relationship to technology, consuming, or moderating what it is they take in every week, especially in terms of how it relates to my style of marketing or frequency of sharing my work. If I think - ugh I don’t want to add so much noise in the world with my newsletter there are so many newsletters - that doesn't actually help, because there aren’t going to be less newsletters anytime soon. While I do think I share in less frequency than others with similar jobs, I also share in more frequency than some of my counterparts.
I am ok with being a cheesy pep talk queer cheerleader of the on the fringe art world. I am ok with being a morning pages head who loves to talk about permission and writing. I am learning to love telling you a million times about everything I do because I hope it reminds you you can to. Remind you both that you can do the thing you do and that you can share about what you do. The people who want to be in your orbit will find you. And the people who think you are too annoying will leave. Or they will stick around and listen to your podcast where they think you are annoying but learn so much from you.
When you do many different things or are promoting multiple shows on a music tour you have to tell people a lot of times about the different shows. Don’t stop telling them! They might have been at work the last time you told them or not gotten their paycheck yet.1 Their mood is lighter today or the wallet is fuller and ready to buy their ticket. Something huge might have happened in their therapy session this week that lead them to believing they could integrate what you are promoting in your online class, and last week they didn't yet have the self awareness! Tell them again!
What is the right frequency though? Only you can find the very personal answer to this. My guess is if you think you are annoying - it actually means you aren’t promoting ENOUGH. Backwards right? If you think you’re annoying just for telling people what you do, there is no small enough amount that would feel good, it means you haven’t accepted that the art of marketing feels annoying. Especially if you have ever identified as a people pleaser, were socialized female, grew up in a home where your needs weren’t met, the list goes on.
So if you feel like you are being annoying, try accepting this part of yourself rather than fighting to “not be annoying”. I have stopped fighting it and it rules! Instead of trying to fix or change the part of you that hates making a newsletter to tell us about your next online class (that is probably going to change people’s lives) why don’t you instead think - this might be annoying to some people and may those people find what is right for them or may they stay here with me and benefit from my work.
For the last twenty years I have been telling people to come to things. Come see the Nutcracker, come to parent watch week at dance class, come to the show at The DAAC, come to the show in my living room, apply for my artist residency, come shop at my store, read my newsletter, take my class, read my book, listen to my podcast. And somewhere along the way in those twenty years I started to feel like that was a bother to people.
I am no longer willing to sell myself short because I worry that I am bothering people telling them about what I have to offer. I will share expansively and trust it will land exactly where it is supposed to. A few weeks away from thirty five, half way to seventy, I accept all the parts of myself. What a relief.
May you be annoying as you share your values, your work, and your art with the world
May you feel annoying and do it anyways
May you remember that many people actually find you not annoying at all
Perhaps you want to make a beginning on a project or market and promote your work in a new way and you are afraid of being annoying? I find that being in a room full of other people willing to begin is an empowering way to get through the discomfort.
THE ART OF BEGINNING
Building practices for starting new projects, weaving in daily rituals, and resuming our work after we’ve strayed
SUNDAY MAY 28 AT 9AM PST / 12PM EST
This class is $55 and there is a 50% off scholarship code, closed captions, and the recording is yours forever! This class is perfect for anyone who has never taken one of my classes before and wants to kickstart tiny projects or big business ideas that need the first few steps tackled.
For all you quilt class alums or those of you who just took The Shapes Of Our Offerings, this class is great for continued momentum or picking something back up you might have put down since class ended. I hope that through aligned action and making a beginning we can create some fuel for our art and get it moving again. If you are in Flexible Office this is a perfect way to pick one of the many things you do and put more focus on it.
I am especially excited about talking about daily rituals, and inviting you into an experiment for the month of June where we will commit to daily tasks. Come to class to learn all about it.
COMMON SHAPES PODCAST
I made a podcast! Thank you to everyone who subscribed on Spotify and Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. If you haven’t yet it would mean so much. You can also just listen on my website. Thank you to everyone who shared it. You can now comment and share this social media post, which is especially meaningful in the coming days. The first two episodes come out this Wednesday and I couldn’t be more excited.
Thank you towho made the art for the podcast (and this newsletter!)
Thank you toat Softer Sounds Studio for editing and guidance
Thank you towho included it in her most recent TWENTY THINGS : on of my favorite places to find things to read, listen to, and consume
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Flexible Office : An experimental digital co-working space meets every Tue and Thu from 8-10am PST / 11-1pm EST (your first two weeks are free if you want to give it a try
Friday Threads : Check out the most recent gathering of resources and support in Picking up The Loose Ends about re-starting rituals and habits
Yes Yes Living Archive : Now that Common Shapes is in the world Yes Yes is officially transitioning to a monthly advice column with a audio component - last week I released the whole archive for you to listen to
Have Company Podcast Archive : From 2014-2017 I had a podcast called Have Company where I interviewed the resident artists of the place of the same name. You can still listen to every episode
How to Not Always Be Working : The book I wrote that has sold tens of thousands of copies, changed many people’s lives, and really annoyed some people