How to Write a Haiku in 7 Simple Steps

If you still do not know how to write a haiku, you are missing a wonderfully crazy chunk of life.

Apart from your daily chores, goals and achievements, there are things you should know or learn and practice only for happiness.

I know someone who does part time stand-up comedy for happiness only; he has a full time job. Another friend plays guitar in his leisure time. Perhaps, poetry writing is one such thing.

Personally, I feel one who writes or reads poems, enjoys great peace of mind. Having read this post, I can assure, you will definitely get interested in reading and writing a special form of poetry, known as haiku poetry.

Opening Image by ivabalk from Pixabay

What is a Haiku?

A haiku is originally a Japanese form of poem consisting of 3 sentences which have a syllable count of 5-7-5. However, this kind of poetry has undergone changes from one geography to other and also from time to time. Later in the article, we shall discuss the rule of syllables and their counting.

Why is Writing Haiku Poetry so Interesting?

The simple answer is because it is not a voluminous kind of writing. A haiku is a small packet of energy that refreshes the reader’s soul or compels her to ponder over a fact.

Many among us want to work small and still excel. The world of haiku provides a privilege to such people. Here, you write a diminutive poem that strikes a chord. To that end, a haiku is a meteoric flash in the mind’s eye of the reader.

It’s time we rested for a while and enjoyed some haikus:

Haiku Examples

Meanwhile, in order to have a look at where you are trying to reach , I have brought some self composed examples. Here are they; read them, enjoy them and be ready to produce such haikus yourself, very soon.

how to write a haiku

This is about an old woman with a wrinkled face.

She has lost everything.

But she knows she has done good deeds all her life.

It appears that her wrinkles hide a smile.

That’s a smile of victory.

To hell with all the world. I stand victorious.

how to write a haiku

(the old woman with wrinkles)

It’s an afternoon.

The sun will shine for another hour, perhaps.

From amidst the green trees, there appears a trail.

It reminds me something.

The trail runs deep into the valley and

leads to my old, quiet village.

This flash in my memory happens on its own.

how to write a haiku

And my mind fills with joy.

(The old village trail)

A sad teen girl asks the saint,” How do I know God loves me?”

The wise saint smiles.

He says,” You want the answers, right?”

“Well, stop questioning the Almighty.”

“And you’ll get all the answers, my dear daughter.”

(The teen and the wise saint)

how to write a haiku

***

The show is on.

The opera unfolds and the story moves.

Busy actors take turns to deliver dialogues.

Martha dips into nostalgia.

As tears trickle down her cheeks, she remembers good old days.

The tales of real life come alive on stage and as claps reverberate the auditorium, Martha moves out.

“’twas no opera. ’twas life.” (All the World’s a stage…)

The Haiku Rule

A haiku, as in Japan, where it originated, generally runs on a 5-7-5 format. It means, the first sentence consists of 5 syllables, second one 7 syllables and the third and the last one, 5 syllables.

However, I have observed that the 5-7-5 rule is no more a strict rule in English haiku. Moreover, in some descriptions of the haiku, it has also been said that the three sentences should be unrhyming.

As of now, we can say a haiku has become more of a personal style and one has the liberty to customize it to one’s own style and mood.

Personally I like to follow the 5-7-5 rule along with a small amount of rhyming going into it.

How to Count Syllables

The important thing to understand while counting the syllables is that we must count vowel sounds and not vowels. As an example, the word ‘considerable’ contains 4 syllables – 1 each in con, sid, ra, ble. Here the last vowel ‘e’ produces a sound and is counted as a syllable.

However, a vowel may not count as a syllable every time. For instance, the last ‘e’ in the word ‘college’ does not make a sound and is not counted as a syllable. As a result, ‘college’ contains only 2 syllables.

Let us consider the word ‘juxtapose’. Here the pronunciation takes three turns with respect to the vowels. Until we say ‘jux’ we are hearing the effect of the vowel ‘u’. Next is ‘ta’. Here the vowel ‘a’ produces the turning effect. Mind that the effect of ‘a’ is different from that of ‘u’. The last is ‘pose’ where we can see the effect produced by the vowel ‘o’. Hence there are 3 syllables in the word ‘juxtapose’.

How to Write a Haiku – an Actual Example

Here, I’d, in fact, write a haiku and show you how to write a haiku easily.

First of all, we take the help of a picture (The picture in the beginning). What does it show?

A tree shedding leaves – may be an autumn scene. What’s the first thing that flashes in your mind. Personally, I get a feeling of sadness, something like, “Oh! The leaves are falling.”

Connect a Fact

The leaves have dried up. They do not receive nourishment from the tree any more.

Add Little Bit of Emotion

The tree discards them. So sad. The tree that once was like their father, does not want to keep a relation with the dried-up leaves. Why?

Perhaps, these worn off leaves do not take part in food preparation for the tree. They are no more relevant to the tree.

Draw a Lesson from

Once you lose your relevance, you lose everything. People around you discard you. The society forgets your earlier contribution to their wellbeing. So, always maintain your worth. Be useful, and most importantly, relevant to others.

The Poetic Side

You have to sum up the fact in three sentences.

Let me try

Everyone discarded her.

The day she regained her worth,

Her friends started to respect her again.

Now the rule – 5-7-5 and moulding into poetic style

Limping back, she came

(Like a Phoenix)/ (From her ashes) did she rise [Here, the first part is 4 syllables, so cannot be taken]

(To brush aside)/(shrug off the blame) [Here, the first part is 4 syllables, so cannot be taken]

After numerous permutations and combinations of syllable counts and rhyme attempts, my Haiku stands thus:

Rising from ashes,

Though wavering back, she came

But shrugged off the blame

Or

Hardship did she do

And wavering back she came

To shrug off the blame

Or

Only with toil hard,

Could she regain her old name,

And turn back the shame

How to Write a Haiku Superfast With a Haiku Format

The way we composed the above haiku gives us a format to write a haiku fast. Let us form a number of steps for this:

  1. Look at a picture or read a quote. Else, think of a fact that appeals to you strongly.
  2. Observe the picture, ponder over the quote, or think about the fact deeply. What does it tell you?
  3. Summarize your thoughts in three sentences.
  4. Make it a little sentimental.
  5. Try to write the three sentences in a poetic way.
  6. At this point, count the syllables in each sentence in order to conform to the 5-7-5 syllable rule.
  7. Try to produce a rhyming sound as in a poem.

And that’s it. Congratulation, you’ve penned a haiku!

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