Simple Tips on How to Write a Haiku

What is a Haiku?

Also known as Hokku, a haiku is a form of Japanese poetry almost similar to Tanka only that it is made up of fewer lines. Ideally, a haiku is a poem that uses very few words to talk about a subject and manage to paint a picture in the mind of the reader. We can refer to a haiku as a very small window that provides a view of a very large scene.

This form of poetry can be written to highlight a number of themes ranging from nature to love.

Haiku can also be poetry for kids, especially the “What I am” kind of haikus. For example:

Green and speckled legs,

Hop on logs and lily pads

Splash in cool water

A haiku has a very simple structure with only three lines with a total of 17 syllables. The first and last lines have an equal number of syllables which is 12 while the second line is made up of 7 syllables.

For haikus, it is not a must to have the lines rhyme but many experienced poets try to rhyme lines and 3 to show their expertise.

Do You Know How to Write a Haiku Poem?

Most haikus are inspired by a memorable experience, nature or beauty. In order to write a good haiku, you need to clearly understand what you are writing about, you, therefore, need to perfectly brainstorm your ideas. In the process of writing the haiku, you have to ensure that you provide the strongest details that will leave the ready with images in his/her mind. After that, ensure that your haiku is well polished, through reading it over and over again or showing it to other experienced poets.

We will provide a step to step guide on how to ensure that you come up with the best haiku.

Step 1: Settle on a topic

Before writing a haiku, you need to have a topic in mind. As mentioned earlier, most haikus are inspired by nature but that doesn’t mean you are only limited to nature, you can explore other options. The best place to kick off this search is looking at the things you care most about or the things you know. You can write about your favorite line of clothing, love or even your pet. The idea here is just being creative.

The following are tips on how you can get the best topic.

  • Nature walks

This is the first stop. Haikus were meant to describe nature; therefore, you can start by having a nature walk. Most haikus are about the natural things existing in nature such as flowers, trees, and mountains. In order to get the best idea for your haiku, consider taking a break and going for a walk. You can visit a park or even venture in a hike. This can be in the woods, a beach, following a stream or a mountain trail. By spending time in nature you are in a better position to draw fascinating ideas for your poem.

If you are not in a position to get out and have a moment with nature, try experiencing it through the work of art either online or in books. Focus on something captivating in nature such as a flower and sure enough, you will get inspired.

  • Look at an event or a season

You can also choose to center your haiku on a seasonal event or a just a season. You can either choose to write about winter, spring, summer or fall or think about that natural event that usually occurs at a certain point in time. This can be the migration of wildebeest.

For a seasonal haiku, you need to center your focus on a single detail about the same. Apart from that, you also have to name that season in the haiku.

Seasonal haikus can be an interesting way of talking about that event that usually fascinates you and happens rarely.

  • Think beyond nature

Haikus can move beyond the border of nature or seasons to other themes. You can decide to write a poem talking about love or even that person or thing that makes you happy or sad. For example, you have an interesting pet and you want to write something funny about it, or it can be that childhood thought that you want to use it as an inspiration for your haiku.

In this case, ensure that you focus on a single object in your haiku considering the length of the poem will not allow you to put down every single detail.

  • Haiku examples

Haiku examples can provide a lot of insights for you to write your own. Apart from that, it is a way of learning more about this form of poetry. Ensure that you go through haikus written by the best poets.

Here are some of the best Haiku poets:

  • Tagami Kikusha
  • Yosa Buson
  • Matsuo Basho
  • Richard Wright

The first three are Japanese poets while Richard Wright is an American Haiku poet.

Step 2: Analyze your topic

Once you have selected your topic, you need to ask yourself some questions, what is the point of writing the point? What is fascinating about the topic?

This will enable you to bring in a twist to your poem and leave something for your readers to ponder upon. It can also

For example, you can write about how your football team had a hard time during the season but something happened and they later won the playoffs.

Step 3: Writing your Haiku

Now you need to put your thoughts down on paper. After carefully analyzing your topic and you are now satisfied that it is what you want to write about, then you need to follow the following tips.

  • Understand the haiku structure

Just like other poems, haikus have their strict form. A haiku is made up of only three lines with 17 syllables following the 5-7-5 structure.

The first lines should only have 5 syllables, then 7 for the second and 5 for the last.

These add up to 17 syllables.

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Once you have achieved the syllable rule, then you are good. For a haiku, you don’t have to worry about the rhyming pattern, you focus should only be on the 5-7-5 syllable structure.

  • Give a sensory detail of your subject

Ideally, haikus are supposed to provide the reader a brief feel of the subject mainly through the senses. In your analysis of the topic, you should have looked at its taste, smell, look, feel or sound. Now in your writing, you should describe the subject such that the sense in question is brought out clearly so as to give your readers that sense and leave a picture painted in their minds.

For example, if your subject is about nature particularly pine trees, you can choose to write about how the pine needles have a musky scent.

For a subject such as your pet, then you talk of something like how a wet dog has a damp fur.

  • Provide tangible descriptions

Your haiku should be freed from vague or descriptions that are abstract. Ensure that your haiku is made of descriptions or images that are concrete to make it easy for the readers to associate with or visualize them. Forget about similes or metaphors, just focus on describing your subject with its unique features.

Make sure you adopt simple language that will make it easy for you to adhere to the required syllable count. Elaborate language or wordy descriptions will make this hard for you.

Common phrases of clichés should be avoided; they will make your haiku lose meaning. You should ensure that you focus on unique details of the subject.

  • Your haiku should be in present tense

Adopting the use of present tense gives your haiku a sense of immediacy. Apart from that, it allows you to come up with simple lines that are easy to read and internalize.

  • Have a surprise ending

A good haiku is one that will leave the reader with something to think about. Ensure that your last line should be intriguing and will pose a lot of questions to the reader. The reader should be left in a mode of reflection and surprised as he/she will understand what the poem was all about.

Look at this Haiku by Kobayashi Issa (Japanese poet) which is a funny haiku.

“Everything I touch

With tenderness, alas

Pricks like a bramble”

Note how it ends in a surprising note.

Step 4: Make final touches

You need to ensure that you have come up with the best haiku. This can only be possible is make some final touches to ensure that it is well polished. This is how you can go about it:

  • Loud reading

This is the basic approach. Read your haiku out loud to observe the sounds. Ensure that there is a smooth shift from one line to another and you have the 5-7-5 syllable structure. Your haiku should have a natural sound.

If this is not the case, consider revising. You can use the thesaurus tool. This tool makes it easy for you to find synonyms. This is a simple way of finding words that will help you achieve the 5-7-5 syllable structure and develop a pleasant sound.

  • Share your haiku

You can share your haiku with close friends or family to get their feedback on the haiku. Ask whether the haiku is a good representation of the subject in question.

  • Format your haiku

Once you are done with going through the haiku, you need to format it. You should center your haiku poem. This gives your lines a diamond shape. Basically, centering is the traditional formatting style of haikus.

For titles, it is not a must or necessary for you haiku to have a title but if you need to have one, make sure it is a short one. Avoid wordy or long titles. A perfect title for a haiku can be “winter” or “Cat”

Exact Haiku Definition

Haiku can be defined as a descriptive form of poetry with a Japanese origin. It is usually short and can be read in only one breath. Traditionally, haiku was meant to talk about subjects mainly in the natural world such as months, seasons, and animals not mentioning the most insignificant elements found in nature such as a piece of grass.

Haiku Rules Simply Explained

The following are the common rules that should be followed when writing a haiku:

  1. A haiku should have only three lines with a total of 17 syllables
  2. The first line should have a total of five syllables
  3. The second line should have seven syllables
  4. The third line should have five syllables
  5. No particular rules of grammar or punctuation, the poet is left to decide how to put his/her words
  6. No particular rhyme is followed when writing a haiku
  7. Repletion of words or sounds are allowed when writing a haiku poem
  8. Haiku subjects mainly focus on nature
  9. Titles are optional, should be short and give the reader insights into the subject.
  10. The first two lines talk about separate issues. The last line should provide a surprising relationship of the two.
  11. The poet focus should be on the details of the cause of emotion rather than how the subject makes him/her feel.

Some Classical Haiku Examples

Let us look at an example of a haiku by Matsuo Basho

An old silent pond…

A frog jumps into the pond,

splash! Silence again.

This haiku leaves the reader pondering about the silence of the pond and how this silence can be temporarily ruined by the splash of a frog.

Do you have an idea for a haiku but you don’t know how to craft it, use our haiku maker now for the best haiku.