How Haiku Will Make You More Creative (Meetup Writing Prompt 7/16/2012)

Writing the HAIKU - Take the time to choose each word

Writing may be slow. Words count not word count.

Haiku and knock knock jokes ~ What do they have in common?

Rhythm and surprise.

Matsuo Basho, Haiku Master ((1644–1694) may or may not agree but he did have a sense of humor.

Humor and riddles are a distinct part of Haiku and make this poetry form, along with the challenge of its meter, an excellent exercise for a writer.

Basho wrote this charming Haiku about a sound we have all heard. He found something amusing in that sound. Here are all the senses brought together as the Haiku master challenges the cat:

Why so scrawny, cat? starving for fat fish or mice . . . Or backyard love? (Basho)

Counting out the 5-7-5, seventeen syllable form is calming and deliberate at the same time. The words are direct; not a metaphor in sight. There is always a phrase and a fragment. A cut. (The cat might be too busy to look for food.) Simple language, deep meaning. A fast read that keeps you thinking. What I would love someone to say about my novel!

Being able to choose a few words that tell a great deal is the ultimate exercise in learning to clean up your writing. Words count not word count

You can describe things huge in scope:

seas are wild tonight . . . stretching over Sado Island silent clouds of stars (Basho)

and things very small.

lady butterfly perfumes her wings by floating over the orchid (Basho)

Another reason to play with the Haiku is the lack of “I”. This poetry puts humanity first. The poet is the observer, one with nature and the elements. In this ego driven world of ours the Haiku is a way to step back and look at what is not ‘not all about you’. Instead of “I’m so lonely” think of “a lonely sparrow looks for its mate…” Haiku can teach us to add detail as well as leave it out when it hides the true essence of something.

Challenge yourself and share some of your poems in this style. I read that it can become addictive, so you’ve been warned.

I was taught the first line of Haiku often sets up an impossibility.

nudging the sun’s side the moon pushes her shadow into the fresh night

Imagine nudging the sun. Imagine writing a first line that proposes a thesis so compelling a reader is hooked.

Write some Haiku to share. Be free about it. After all it is Zen poetry.


  1. David Margulis says:

    Graceful sunset hues
    Flow in luscious shapes from snow
    No guilt in beauty

  2. Beautiful Haiku David! Thanks.

  3. Suzanne Anderson says:

    Thousands of drunks
    Stumble past, grasping hands, growling
    Beauties baking in the sun.

  4. Here’s the one I came up with on Monday:

    tiny fingers play
    footsteps patter on wood floors
    loud joyful laughter

    Here’s one I came up with later because I’m so excited that football season is almost here again:

    time for some pigskin
    beer whisky ice tailgating
    asses in tight pants

  5. Suzanne – that gave me a real visual :) very nice.

    Cristina – see above for the football Haiku :) good stuff!

  6. Here’s one of mine:

    Muddy waters flow
    I feel the earth as it rocks
    Too late to run now

  7. Christina Ranallo says:

    You guys are amazing! Teach a man to fish and he’ll never starve. Teach a writer Haiku and he’ll never have writer’s block! Here’s my Haiku from Monday:
    lover on one side
    run run ground
    time stays
    no bridge shortens
    I forget who waits

  8. Debbie Gallogly says:

    Testing is for Gil,
    Making Haiku begins now.
    Judge me now on rhyme.

  9. Scott Moore says:

    A few haiku from last Monday:

    Ok, this first isn’t strictly a haiku, but…

    at her first meeting
    christina makes someone mad
    she needed two bucks

    And for the more traditional haiku:

    the heavy rain falls
    amongst spring’s new fragrances
    fall’s decay is faint

    in the afterglow
    the past becomes visible
    heaven’s light waxes

    • Christina Ranallo says:

      Scott, what fun. You immortalized angry two dollar woman in Haiku! Your second one is lovely.

  10. Scott Moore says:

    humid, hot, stiffling
    garish lights and sounds engulf
    funnel cakes and bile

  11. Scott Moore says:

    unpleasant harvest
    they line up to meet the need
    necks slit overhead

  12. Scott Moore says:

    moment of ingress
    love aches and sweats within her
    a child in the spring

    • Scott Moore says:

      Eh, this one’s no good – “love aches” is personification, which is a form of metaphor, no?

      • Christina Ranallo says:

        I believe in the English form of Haiku you’re fine with that phrase. It’s much looser and also love is an emotion and Haiku does contain emotion at times as it’s primary element in the place of say, a frog who slips off the petal, sad. Love aches is maybe a short cut. No frog. ;)
        This is an exercise and I think you have done very well.

  13. Very intriguing and informative article. Didn’t realize that Haiku poems were so useful for developing creativity and improving novel-writing. Thank you.

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