Poetry is a journey. Social media is a conversation. Instagram poetry is a bit of both. And in January 2018, I decided I wanted in. In the nine months since I got an Instagram account, I’ve learnt heaps about myself, about the creative process, and about people. I’ve written things I didn’t think I could write. Seen stuff in ways I couldn’t have predicted. It’s been a conversational journey. And the ride is far from over.
Now, in true Millennial style, I’d like to share my learnings with you along with a couple of old poems (and one new one) that have grown out of my experience so far.
Lesson 1: Just do it!
I wasn’t sure if my stuff was really worth reading. (Some of it really isn’t worth reading yet.) I hadn’t written a new poem in a while. Another journal had just sent me an apology letter saying that my work didn’t quite make it into the next issue. I thought that to try, I had to be “ready.” What I didn’t realise was that you can’t know you’re ready unless you try. Flash forward 9 months and I’m not a Rupi Kaur success story. But I am a better writer and I’ve still got a way to go.
So whether you’re a scientist, or a writer. If you’re starting out at a new job, or deciding whether or not to apply for one. If you’re thinking of building something, or figuring out if a project is worth finishing. The lesson is: Go for it!
Too often we let our search for perfection get in the way of doing some good. We think that success is skipping the start and stop, the fail and restart steps. We forget that the glory isn’t in the medals or the wins, it’s in the journey it took to get there. If you keep striving to create the best moment, you might miss the opportunity already knocking on your door. Now is the only chance you have control over. This second could be heroic verse. So don’t miss it.
Lesson 2: It’s all about connection.
I was a poet looking for a platform. The irony of it is that the hardest part of the search was convincing myself that I had something to bring to the table. Then it was about figuring out that what I brought with me didn’t have to be the next Pulitzer winning piece.
Because in real life, not just online, putting your work (and yourself) out there is about opening up to change and feedback. Most of that feedback will be helpful. Really. Those amazing, talented humans out there? They are not a threat. They are miracles waiting to collide with yours. You will learn from each other. Yes, learning can be uncomfortable. That only means you’re doing it right because change implies letting go sometimes. Yes, our own words can be so powerful that they make someone smile, to look at their day differently. Not everything goes viral. Not everything needs to. One connection is enough.
This doesn’t just apply to poetry. It’s about ordinary life things like talking to someone new on the bus. We don’t have to be “the next big thing” to be worth talking to. The person sitting next to you is more likely to change your life than the last inspirational quote you read. We just have to be awake to notice.
Lesson 3: Fill up.
I write well when I’ve been reading well. That’s a fact. I am a firm believer in the saying that we get out what we put in. That definitely applies to writing. I can go for weeks without writing a sentence of poetry. Though I will keep reading, keep watching the world. Then when I least expect it there will be an explosion of thoughts worth putting down on paper (and putting up on Instagram, or putting out as submissions).
Sometimes the desk, or the canvas, is not where ideas hit you. Be patient. If we fill ourselves with good company, good reads, if we stay open to the beauty in the natural world around us, ideas will get there. Needs have to be seen in order to be met. So we can’t save the world if we don’t really see what’s going on first. We can’t have turning points if we drive past all the street corners. Maybe your moment is coming. Maybe your moment is already here. Either way, every step you take is preparation. Don’t waste time.
Need some tips on how to make these lessons happen? Here are some of my suggestions:
Fill up with some awesome words of wisdom from Thank You New Zealand’s Daniel Flynn. Check out the vid from our epic September event here.
Another great place to fill up and wake up is at The Creators Friday coffee and korero. Check it out!
Want to wade in, meet people and just do it? Then hit Seed Waikato’s subscribe button and sign up for our next event here.
Also, if you like what you read above, go on Instagram and follow my account @ripagepoet for more poetry, reading recommendations and other thoughts.
Until next time, keep #Livinglit.