From “Unstuck,” by Noah Scalin
Not everyone is a poet, but everyone can write a haiku, and it can be done just about everywhere. This traditional form of non-rhyming Japanese poetry is usually written with 17 syllables in English, which are broken into three lines (five, seven and five syllables per line, respectively). Initially haiku were about nature, but modern ones can be on any topic. Their brevity encourages condensing complex thoughts and emotions into simple, elegant forms. While you could take hours to compose one, the goal of this exercise is to do it within a 30-second time limit to help hone quick visual and mental interpretation reflexes. I’ve written hundreds of haikus, and not only did they give me a nice bit of quick creative satisfaction, but I was able to mine them later as source material for creative projects.
How To Do It:
1. Use whatever you’re working on at the moment as your inspiration. Alternately: Use anything that you can see at the moment.
2. Say your thoughts out loud while counting the syllables on your fingers. Remember, it’s five, then seven, then five again. You can do this in your head if you’re somewhere that talking out loud is inappropriate, but it does help to vocalize your thoughts.
3. Don’t be critical of the results. Just keep adjusting the words to get it short enough to fit the format and then write it down.
4. Keep your favorites in your journal or sketchbook so you can return to them from time to time.
The tricky part is finding the right word to fit the syllables remaining. This is a great time to start boning up on synonyms in your handy thesaurus. Use a real book as an excuse to get away from the computer if you’re on one all day.