Art evolves with time yet continues to remain relevant. The same can be said for poetry. With the advent of the internet and social media, a new tribe of poets have emerged- Instagram Poets or Instapoets. Currently, there are more than 3 million #Instapoet posts on Instagram.
One of the most popular and successful Instapoet is Lang Leav. Born in a Thai refugee camp, Leav spent her formative years in Sydney, Australia and began writing at a very young age.
Today, she has more than 529.1 K followers on Instagram and she is an international best-selling author with eight published titles under her name.
I had the opportunity to meet Lang Leav during a reading at Kinokuniya Bookstore in Singapore last December where she shared some great insights on how to be a successful poet in the digital era. Here are some Instapoetry lessons from Lang Leav:
Forget Everything Else, And Focus On Writing
A lot of aspiring writers worry too much about gaining notice or publishing a book. For those writers Lang Leav has a simple but important piece of advice—forget fame and fortune, and focus on how you write, how often you write, and the quality of your work.
“We, as writers, keep learning and improving throughout. There should never be a point when we cease to learn because if that junction arrives, we cease to grow.”
When a writer focuses on learning and practicing their craft, it is only a matter of time before they are noticed. So remember: Write. Post. Repeat.
Share Your Work, And Welcome Feedback
When I asked her about how to know when I’m on the right track when I’m writing, she said that the best judges of a writer’s work are her readers. She encouraged me to share my work on social media and use the feedback from my followers to improve.
There Is Nothing Wrong With Self-publishing
Traditionally, self-publishing was looked down upon. But Leav believes that there is nothing wrong in giving your work a kick start. “If you have enough faith in your work, go for it,” she says. In fact, she supported herself through self-publishing for 10 years before she was picked up by her publisher.
Don’t Give Up
When I asked Lang about the publishing process, she smiled and said, “It is not an easy road, but if you are consistent, you will get there.” She said that no matter what, one should never give up on their dreams. “Keep writing and keep pitching your work. The day will come.” Use social media to develop and recognize a fan base.
Many writers have found their way to agents and publishers following the Instagram and self-publishing route- from Michael Faudet to Rupi Kaur and Alex Elle to Atticus.
A Picture Is Worth More Than A Thousand Words: The Golden Rule
Last, but the most important golden rule of Instagram is using pictures and filters that go with the theme of your writing. Aesthetics is everything when it comes to Instagram. People love looking at visually appealing photographs. Today, the abstract is mainstream and less is more. Be subtle and selective when choosing or curating pictures for your instapoetry.
If you are an aspiring Instapoet, I hope these insights will help you build your digital brand. So go on, Write. Post. Repeat! Just don’t forget the pretty pictures.