[30 Day Challenge] Haiku Every Day

Random Observation/Comment #436: Poetry is beautiful, but writing poetry and the process behind it is just amazing.

see lemons for a haiku

As with all my challenges, I’ll explain it all in an FAQ (and yes, some of my friends asked it this way):

Q: What’s with this #haikueveryday? I see you posting it every day.

A: It started when my friend told me about the famous Hemmingway six word story on a roadtrip up to eat lobster and take wedding photos. The premise is that every good story can be told in 6 words. His most famous being “Baby shoes. For Sale. Never worn.” I was originally going to do a 6 word story every day, but the ones that we thought of all sounded very depressing (and also 6 word stories are really difficult to come up with). I thought if I tried really hard, I could do it, but then people would think I’m in a bad mood (which I usually am not).  So instead, I chose haikus…

Q: Why haikus?

A:  … Because haikus are awesome. The 5-7-5 syllable structure always makes me count with my fingers, and since I’ve started doing this every day, I’ve thought of more and more succinct ways to explain larger/more in-depth stories. I think it’s just the perfect amount of freedom (no rhyming schemes) and length for a creative summary.

Q: How did you write these haikus?

A: My inspiration comes from my everyday activities, so this #haikueveryday routine actually became my new way of journaling. At almost every part of the day, I was looking for the shortest way to represent the 3 main themes that happened worth talking about. In turn, I usually wound up writing at least 5 phrases that don’t get used. This process for writing these haikus is actually a much better method than what I used to do for keeping my diary. In fact, in the past month, I’ve completely replaced my journaling with just haiku phrases. I’ve found I remember the events easier after I’ve thought about them in different adjectives/verbs/tenses, and they just mean more when reading them. Here were my typical diary thoughts:

  • What happened today?
  • What did I learn/think about?
  • What made me happy?
  • What am I thankful for?

Q: What did you learn from all this?

A: There were a few main things that stuck with me:

  • Think about problems from all angles. There were many times in the past month where I really wanted to write about the interesting people I met or random ideas I thought about in the shower, but there were just way too many syllables. You’ll need to look stupid counting on your fingers for 10 minutes, but you’ll find just the right way to tell your story. While it may be heresy using an engineering perspective on an artist’s creativity problem, a new angle will always bring new ideas.
  • Cut the fat, but not before you cook with it. When cooking any cut of meat, you always want to keep the fat on so you can render it and keep all the juices.  Of course you can trim it off afterwards, but that’s when the steak already has all that richness in it.  It’s a loose metaphor, but writing a good haiku requires a lot of ideas and versions.  If you’re going to try it, make sure you don’t just use the first sentence that comes to mind.  Let it all render a bit and think of ways to say it.
  • Rules, while annoying, also lead to structure. Rules are restricting – that’s the whole point. The upside is: by reducing the number of possibilities out there, you cause the creative mind to focus. Especially in today’s fast pace/news-headline-reading readership, it’s important to get to the point and be consistent.

Q: What’s next? Are you just going to do this everyday for the rest of your life? Because you’ve set yourself up to fail.

A: I’m thinking about taking this a few levels deeper. I will continue to do my #haikueveryday, but add on #photoeveryday for another 30 days. The photo will add more structure and inspire the haiku. This will allow my haikus to be a little bit more sophisticated (although less diary-driven).  After this is completed, I will add on the #100happydays, which will have a photo of something that makes me happy and a haiku to represent that thing.  Lastly, I’m considering making it more community driven by writing happy haikus with photos of friends daily.

It will take a little time, but hopefully i’ll become a better haiku writer and mesh all those sources of information together into something more meaningful. Either way, it’s been oodles of fun and kept me engaged.

~See Lemons Love Haikus