Introduction: How to Write a Haiku
Haiku are short poems, of Japanese origin, that consist of three lines with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. Haiku traditionally offer ponderings about nature and life. While the poems may be short, they are not short in meaning, so aim to say something profound in your three lines. Of course, you can create a Haiku for any occasion, so don’t be afraid to be humorous or to write about non-traditional subjects.
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Step 1: Prepare
Gather your materials (paper & pen or a computer, word document, and printer).
Step 2: Look at Examples
Browse the internet for samples of Haiku writing to get ideas and familiarize yourself with the style.
Step 3: Pick a Subject
Stay traditional and pick a nature subject or add your own style and pick a different subject.
Step 4: Show Don't Tell
Write down 5-10 descriptive words about your subject. Choose sensory words, or words that convey sight, smell, taste, touch, sound. These will help the reader connect to your poem. You may want to look at a picture, listen to a song, or taste your favorite food. If you’re stuck, do something to engage your senses and record your thoughts.
Step 5: Create Three Lines
Use your descriptions to tell a short story in 3 lines. Write down what you want to say first, before counting syllables. This way, you have somewhere to start. You won’t use all of the words you came up with, but keep your list close for the next two steps.
Step 6: Count Syllables: 5,7,5
Once you’ve gotten your lines down, go back and count your syllables. Use your fingers if you have to, but be sure that your lines meet the exact syllable count of 5 in the first, 7 in the second, and 5 in the third! This is what makes a haiku, a haiku.
Step 7: Edit
After you have the correct number of syllables in your three lines, read over your poem and ask yourself: Does this make sense? Do the words form a clear thought or image for the reader?
If you can answer yes to these questions, then your poem is ready to publish. If you answer no to any, continue editing your poem. This may involve changing word choice, arrangement, or even deciding on a new topic and starting from scratch. Remember to always check your syllables after every change you make!
Step 8: Publish Your Work
Re-write a final version of your work in ink or print it out. Better yet, share your poem with your friends on social media.