How Do You Write a Haiku?

To write a haiku, choose an appropriate subject and create a poem that consists of three lines with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second line and five in the final line. Due to the short nature of this type of poem, choose language that elicits a mood instead of stating it and use tight, evocative word choice.

The three most important elements in writing a haiku are the structure of the poem, the subject matter and the poet’s word choice. While the syllabic structure of a haiku is quite simple, it is also vital to this type of poem. A syllable is a distinct, complete sound in a word. For example, “sleep” has only a single syllable, while “sleeping” has two syllables, the “sleep” sound and the “-ing” sound, and “sleepily” has three syllables: “sleep,” “-i-“ and “-ly.”

With the proper structure in mind, choose a subject and use language that creates a complete poem in only a few words. Most haikus are written about nature or subjects that include details about weather, natural environments, and plants and animals. With only 17 total syllables allowed in a haiku, it is key to use words that evoke a mood and scene rather than going into great detail. For example, a word like “snow” not only indicates a particular object, but also evokes feelings of cold and the color white.