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Why Haiku?

The Benefits Of Writing Haiku

By sleepy draftsPublished 5 days ago 3 min read
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Why Haiku?
Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

So, if you’ve been on Vocal for a while now (or at least since November ‘22!) you may have noticed, what Mike Singleton - MikeyDred lovingly refers to, as the “Plague of Haiku.” Since November, Vocal has announced three separate haiku challenges, the most recent one even being the chance to write a “Quadru-Haiku.”

Now, if you’re like me, you might be asking…why?

Why such an emphasis on haiku?

It wasn’t until I’d written 6 entries to 3 different haiku challenges (9 haiku in total) that it dawned on me:

Maybe these haiku challenges are Vocal’s way of helping us all become slightly better writers.

When I read back over my first entry to the haiku challenge, compared to my most recent one, I was able to see how much stronger each challenge made my writing. But it was only because of Vocal’s Top Stories, and the other writers on Vocal that any of those learning curves even happened in the first place.

When I entered the first challenge, all I knew about haiku was that it required three lines and 17 syllables, broken down into a 5/7/5 syllable format.

It wasn’t until the announcement of a second haiku challenge, and Scott Wade’s Top Story, “The Anarchy of a Haiku Challenge” that I learned about kigo, kireji, and the aha! moment, all iconic of a haiku.

After that, I slowed down while writing. I chose and measured my words more deliberately. I took some time to research and read more haiku.

Each running attempt at writing a haiku felt a little more fun, the more I learned the rules and leaned into them.

The process made me think of a different Top Story titled, “Why I’ll Never Win A Challenge” from around the same time the second haiku challenge was announced.

(The article is a great read, and I highly recommend checking it out!)

In the article, it’s emphasized that the writer usually tries to subvert expectations by looking for creative loopholes in the challenges/prompts.

As someone who has done this many, many times themselves, that part of the article really caught my attention.

It made me realize, when everyone tries to subvert expectations, we often end up writing different versions of similar loopholes. We all want to stand out from the judges, catch our readers slightly off-guard, or be considered original. The beauty of a challenge, though, is to see how creative you can get within the confines of a prompt.

There are no loopholes with a haiku.

You have to follow the rules to get the desired result for it to even be considered a haiku in the first place.

And as I explored more haiku, I started to realize the beauty in that.

So why the emphasis on haiku?

We might never really know.

But, personally, I’m grateful for the chance to work on these aspects of my writing. Economy of language and knowing your audience (aka: following the rules and guidelines set out by your audience - in this case, the Vocal+ judges) are two useful skills for any writer to have. For me, the haiku challenges provide a fun, safe place to playfully tone these writing muscles in a new way; a small, personal mental gym with shiny new equipment.

Above all, though, I’m excited to see how writing so much haiku will translate into future approaches to fiction.

For me, I've found myself slowing down while writing, choosing my words more deliberately, playing within the confines of the prompts more, and learning how to incorporate new aha! moments.

How do you feel about writing haiku? Have you found any benefits?

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About the Creator

sleepy drafts

a sleepy 26-year-old named em :)

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Comments (37)

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  • Deasun T. Smyth2 days ago

    I agree with you, I've noticed that my haiku has really improved. though I have to admit, I am getting a bit tired of all the haiku.

  • Zohaib Sunesara4 days ago

    I am thrilled that composing haikus has enhanced your writing skills! Though I have only written two, I can tell from reading it that it was enjoyable.

  • Thank you for culling these thoughts that speak for so many of us haiku challenge enthusiasts. I love the way I begin to see the world through the lens of haiku ... finding that aha! moment in bird or cloud or storm.

  • I agree. Never wrote a haiku before the Vocal challenges and I am no poet. Great way to hone writing skills and word choice. Haiku form is beautiful and reflective and a joy to read. Great article and insight. Thanks for sharing. Hope to see a Drabble challenge one day - a story in exactly 100 words.

  • Chua Yuan Heng4 days ago

    This haiku writing challenges your logic and imagination. Great work.

  • Melanie Tongmar4 days ago

    I've enjoyed writing haikus for a few years now. There is a real skill in the ability to be sparse with words yet convey something quite considerable. I love that, especially in these times of over-communication!

  • Kendall Defoe4 days ago

    I do like haikus. They make me consider things, and write more clearly... ;)

  • Allie Bickerton4 days ago

    I joined the Vocal community because of one of those Haiku challenges and I am so grateful for it because I can already see the benefits it has had on my ability to string words together to convey meaning. Thank you for providing the most logical and conceivable explanation. It makes perfect sense!

  • Caroline Jane4 days ago

    Excellent article. Spot on!

  • Kerri Brock4 days ago

    I still do love me a good Dr. Seuss story, and yet turned to Haikus about 5 or so years ago, to help me improve my brevity and conciseness. What a lovely space to stumble upon today. I never know Vocal existed until today!

  • Wow this is great! Yes I certainly came to appreciate Haiku better thanks to these challenges. It reminded me of how CS Lewis would write with a dip pen. This meant that every 5-7 words he has to pause and dip his pen. He said he did this on purpose rather than switching to a modern pen because it made him stop and consider deeply what the next word should be! :)

  • Keila Aartila5 days ago

    'Tis true.:)

  • Cathy holmes5 days ago

    I knew this was a Top Story the moment I read it. Congrats.

  • Jobaid-ul Islam5 days ago

    very nice content

  • Em Starrrrr5 days ago

    Great article, Em. Very cool outlook indeed. The more we write, the better we become. I haven't contributed to the haiku tidal wave but have read some amazing entries...yours included!

  • VIDHYASAGAR5 days ago

    Good content 🤩🤩

  • Wow, I'm so happy that writing these Haikus have improved your writing! I've only written one so far so I can't say much from my experience. I enjoyed reading this!

  • RP5 days ago

    Nice...

  • Judey Kalchik5 days ago

    Great reasoning! Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Very insightful. Anything we can do to encourage economy of words is going to help our writing. With the exceptions of purposeful stream-of-consciousness writing and absurdist satire, less is almost always more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and congratulations on getting a Top Story!

  • Jason Basaraba5 days ago

    You nailed the improve our writing skills. I know think differently when I write anything. Congratulations

  • Gina C.5 days ago

    Wonderful article and congratulations on a well-deserved Top Story!! I agree with all your points; you have some amazing insight here! For me, the haikus have definitely been challenging 😅 And I, too, look back at my older haikus and see how much growth I've made! ☺️ Great story, Em!!

  • Lilly Cooper5 days ago

    A great read :) I often tell people I'm not a poet. The reason being I don't do well with the word restriction and can't rhyme to save my life. I was really excited for the Quadra Challenge! I had more of a word count to work with and I didn't need to rhyme!

  • Congratulations on your Top Story!!! I told you so :)

  • Great job 👏

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