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Haiku, Miscellaneous, Miscellaneous, Writing, Writing Craft, Writing Exercise, Writing Resources

What is a Haiku?

Many people are writing haikus these days. Some of them are doing it for fun, but many are doing it as their only writing, as a piece of art that has to be carefully taken care of. You can put a lot of time and effort into a haiku, if you want. It can be a great gift at a birthday or a wedding, if it is well written. There are even clubs to join for those who love to write haikus, and you can buy great books with haikus.

I think a Haiku can be a fun exercise, and sometimes also a way to warm up before I get to the “real” writing, the writing of my story. It took me some time to grab the idea of what a Haiku is, but as soon as that was done I had a lot of fun both reading and writing them! My impression is that as soon as you understand it you can have fun with it. But many people don’t. Therefore…

The haiku has its roots in Japan. I think that the tradition is many hundred, maybe thousands, years old. What differs a haiku from other kind of poems or prose is that a haiku is surrounded by many rules. To learn how to write a good haiku it is important to follow these rules. But first of all, you have to be able to hear how words are divided into pieces, into sounds.

There are words that cannot be divided into pieces, they just contain one single piece/sound, for example; word, dog, bag, me, you, car. Some words are divided into two pieces: flower, nickel, christmas, sleeping, girlfriend. If you say the word while you listen carefully you can hear where they are divided (flo-wer, nick-el, christ-mas, slee-ping, girl-friend). Other words can be divided into three pieces: computer, restaurant, internet (com-pu-ter, res-tau-rant, in-ter-net). It has nothing to do with how the words are spelled, it is all about how they sound.

Into how many pieces are the word scuba diver divided?

English: Pyrostegia venusta (flowers). Locatio...

Image via Wikipedia

The Rules of a Haiku

A haiku has to have three lines. They can all contain as many words as you want, but there are rules to follow for each and every line. All the words in the first line of a haiku has to contain of five pieces all together. This is an example of the first line of a haiku:

“The wind is blowing”

It´s only four words, but they contain of five pieces; the wind is blow-ing. For the next line the rule is that the words have to contain of seven pieces. An example of the second line of a haiku is:

“wonderful flowers growing”

This time I wrote only three words, but they are still divided into seven pieces/soundings;
won-der-ful flo-wers gro-wing

Then again, the thirds line has the same rules as the first one. As many words as I want, but five pieces.

“Summertime is here.”

Three words, five pieces; sum-mer-time is here. And now, when these three lines are written, following the rules of 5-7-5, the haiku is finished.

The haiku above is written like this: 

The wind is blowing
wonderful flowers growing
summertime is here.

Cherry Blossom at Springtime

What I love with a haiku is that it allows me to have fun with words, to think, while I write something beautiful. It is possible to write a long story made of only haikus, of you want. A book? Or just have fun with it, all by yourself as an exercise before you get to your own writing.

A last thing I would like to mention about haikus; if you want to do it a bit more advanced, you can add some other rules. An old japanese traditions says that a haiku should contain something that tells the reader what season it is, and preferably something about cherry trees at spring time. But this is a rule most people don´t follow, I believe. My own experience tells me that haikus are as best when they contain something bad, about darkness and horror. But that is just my own personal opinion.

And by the way; scuba diver is a word that has four soundings; scu-ba di-ver.

Have fun!

About Magdalena Wiklund

Leg. biomedicinsk analytiker och maker. Arbetar med transfusionsmedicin till vardags, forskar på antibiotikaresistens på fritiden. Jag skapade Sveriges största site för biomedicinska analytiker därför att detta verkligen är ett fantastiskt yrke som jag hoppas att fler ska intressera sig för.


18 thoughts on “What is a Haiku?

  1. I will continue to follow…I have enjoyed reading your thoughts…thanks for introducing yourself.

    Posted by Kris Kennedy | January 3, 2012, 7:16 pm
  2. Hi. thanks for coming to my blog, reading my poem, and making a comment.

    I don’t know if the picture is real. But it looks cool.

    I like your blog in English and I like how you try to explain Haiku.

    Just one thing, a lot of people would be insulted that haiku is just fun and just a warm up. There are people who take it very, very seriously, and there are people who ONLY write haiku. I am not one of those people. To me it is just fun and a warm up. To me, sometimes all of poetry is just a big exercise. But I just want you to know that when I have my attitude, which is like yours, I have come across people who get very insulted by that attitude.

    Posted by zongrik | January 12, 2012, 6:20 pm
    • Dear zongrik,
      Thanks for pointing that out to me. I´ll have a look at the text again to see how I can make that clear. I appreciate this kind of feedback, be use it actually gives me an opportunity to develop and think from other points of view. Thanks 🙂 Any any other kind of feedback at the rest of the blog would also be much appreciated, if you ever have the time.
      I wish you a great day and happy blogging.


      Posted by Magdalena Wiklund | January 12, 2012, 6:32 pm
  3. Thanks 🙂 Im happy that you enjoyed it.

    Posted by Magdalena Wiklund | January 8, 2012, 12:00 pm


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