17 haikus about writing and editing

The author shares a writing exercise she uses to stretch her brain, the results of which are these haikus for wordsmiths. Care to add your own?

As a professional writer, I am always looking for ways to keep my writing fresh.

Over the past several months, I’ve experimented with constrained writing. And it’s just what it sounds like—imposing specific conditions on writing, such as disallowing certain types of words or writing to a specific pattern. (In college, for instance, we once had to write a paragraph without any prepositions.)

Writing to a pattern means I can’t simply use the first words that I type on the screen. I have to stretch to find words that fit the pattern; they’re writing exercises for the brain.

Here’s another writing exercise, one that also involves restricting words and haiku. As you probably know, haiku is a Japanese poetic form that consists of 17 “on” in three lines of five, seven and five. On is often translated as syllable, but in the true form, one on is counted for a short syllable.

Restricting myself to 17 short syllables, I wrote 17 haikus about writing:

Hyphens line that road.
The road that goes right to hell.
We are all hell-bound.

Why bother now with
those perfunctory words when
they have no meaning.

Passively passive
is the passive voice. It seems
you want to confuse.

Yes, I wrote that lede.
And it does not include puns
I can do better.

I edit, rewrite.
I work verbal problems out.
You can read it now.

The words “neither” “nor”
“either” “or” can’t be used alone.
A party of two.

What mistakes are there
in this document of yours?
Text can shift, after all.

Oh, Microsoft Word.
Why must you malfunction so?
Crash, force quit, restart.

Who or whom who knows
when to use which. Or how or
why. Does it matter?

Utilize means use.
So why use utilize when
use will do? Confused.

You ask about rules.
Then don’t apply them. Go along.
Write. Don’t ask again.

Look it up, I say.
How mom, can I, when I don’t
know how to spell it.

Yes, Mr. Em Dash.
I would love to take a stroll
in the park with you.

Is your soul. The send button
makes it stir.

Style and usage—
consistency reigns supreme
Check your style book.

Rewrite it, I say.
That may be the only way
to save it today.

To use it or not
The serial comma. Cause
your trouble and go.

Readers, care to share you own writing haikus? It’s fun and maddening at the same time.

Laura Hale Brockway writes about writing at Impertinent Remarks.


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