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What Studying Haikus Taught Me about Writing Blog Posts

This guest post is by Steve of Do Something Cool.

A form of Japanese poetry, haikus have been around for hundreds of years.  Blogging has been around for roughly two decades. 

On the surface, these two different forms of writing don’t have anything to do with each other.  But surprisingly, understanding haikus has taught me a lot about writing blog posts.

The key to a good haiku (and blog post)

I once read that haikus are best described as “a one breath poem that discovers connection.”  That’s about as good a description for haikus as you’re going to find. 

A well-written haiku gets the reader to discover a connection to something new and meaningful.  And the way you do that is by writing from a unique and interesting perspective no one else has seen.

That’s also what makes a good blog post.  A good blog post gets the reader to discover something in a meaningful way through a unique and interesting perspective.

Since I’ve started to study and understand haikus, I’ve taken a new approach to writing my blog posts.  Just like a Japanese haiku writer in the 1800s would have analyzed and observed every angle to find the one perspective no one had considered before, I try to write posts with a similar twist.

My blog posts have now become just as much about discovery as they are in haikus.  It’s not my goal to churn out blog posts just for the sake of publishing something.  I try to offer unique and meaningful posts for both the reader and myself in everything I write.

I’ve been told that a good haiku writer can look at a famous photo thousands of others have seen and written about, but still discover a perspective no one else had previously been able to see.  Who wouldn’t want that ability for writing blog posts?

Often it can seem as if everything has already been written before.  I’ve felt that way at times.  After scanning through thousands of blog posts online, you might ask yourself how you could possibly come up with something new.  Hasn’t everything already been written before?

Understanding haikus has taught me to see things differently.  There are endless ways to write a blog post simply because there are endless numbers of perspectives and viewpoints to write about.  There will never be a point when nothing new can be said about a subject.

Think about it this way: people have been writing haikus for hundreds of years.  There are hundreds of thousands of them that talk about nature alone.  Yet each one can be completely different.

I was in a group of students writing haikus once.  We were looking down at people crossing a busy street.  Each student observed the same scenes and wrote down several haikus each.  It was amazing how varied all the writing was.  Even those students who wrote about exactly the same things could find new and unique ways to write about it.

It comes down to perspective.  Writing haikus teaches you to notice details or angles no one else is seeing.  A dozen people watching one scene on a street could write in twelve different ways.  For the same reason a dozen bloggers could write about one topic in a dozen unique ways.

Of course, not all bloggers do that.  Many repeat what others are already saying without putting their own spin on things.

But you can train yourself to find that unique perspective.  Ask yourself:

  • What is being missed by everyone else?
  • Can something be added or subtracted from everyone else’s opinion to make it new?
  • Is there a bigger or smaller detail that others are failing to notice?
  • Could a different approach to this topic come up with something different?

It helps to think of it this way: writing a haiku is like looking through the lens of a camera.  You can zoom the lens in or out as much as you need to, as long as you eventually find details in the photo that make your perspective unique and new.  It can be a small, important detail or something much bigger.  But it has to be something your camera sees that no other camera has caught before.

Blog posts are a lot like that.  What you write is the lens and the way you approach the topic is the angle of the camera.  Put the two together in an original and interesting way and you have the beginning of a great blog post.

If you were to look back over the past two centuries and explore the millions of haikus that have been written, you would find that the number of perspectives and moments they capture are endless.  The same is also true for blog posts.  And it should be.  After all, you’re working with a lot more words.

Has poetry or literature influenced your blog post writing? Share your unique perspective in the comments.

Steve is the writer behind Do Something Cool where he blogs about travel, motivation, personal growth and adventure.  He’s always looking for ways to make life more interesting.  Get tips on living life to the fullest through his Facebook fan page and Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Jason says:

    Guess I better start reading me some haikus. I scan a lot of blogs all the time, but try to never leave with anything too impressionable. I want to learn, but not be influenced (if that’s possible). That said, every post I write gives me more insight into the topic I’m writing about.

    Writing from a fresh perspective is challenging, but isn’t that where growth comes from?

  2. Thank you Steve for sharing this with us! I blog about different things of my interest but I started blogging because I love to write. I haven’t ever shared my poetry on my blog though and I don’t really intend to at the moment but this post will surely help me in writing both, better blogs and better poetry! :)

  3. Poetry in the first place is for mature and discerning minds.The post carried really interesting stuffs. Writing post through the eyes as a poet is certainly going to be boom!

  4. Himanshu says:

    It’s a more creative and more interesting article. This post’s amazing view, really comes from Haiku..

    Enough has been already said in your article, and when I get some new angle or perspective I’ll again come here to put some words.But for now speechless.

  5. Beth M. Wood says:

    Great post! This is true, not just in blogging. I use this approach when sending out articles for publication. I look at the magazine’s submission calendar, pick a month/theme that interests me, make a list of all the obvious topics/angles, and then write from an angle totally apart from those things. Your odds of getting read and/or published will always be greater if you can surprise the editor. Good advice… Thanks for sharing, I’m re-inspired to send out a few more pieces!

  6. I think this is a great thing to remember for bloggers that may be in a competitive niche and often get discouraged. Sure, there’s a lot of content already out there that you may want to write about, but your view is going to be different to theirs – why not give it a go?

    A lot of my blog posts are based off personal experience and opinion, I have to trust my own view. Thanks for the great post, oh and I might start writing some Haiku poems just for fun!

  7. Reading this post taught me to be more concise and specific in my writing and IM in general. To be more process oriented is what I learned a few days back by reading a book by David Allen. This was a good week I would say.

    If the posts are too long users usually loose interest midway and end up closing the tab or hitting the back button. “a one breath poem that discovers connection” for me means to be more specific and cut the crab. Respect your time as well as others time.

  8. Charlie says:

    This entry pretty much details exactly why I started writing a blog in the first place. I thought I had an interesting perspective and I wanted to broaden others’ perspectives as well. You know, just get people’s gears turning. Like your post just did.

    Anyway, haikus are great stuff. Even in their brevity the reader can take so much away. Are there any particularly inspiring ones you might suggest?

  9. Sarah Park says:

    Haiku is a very complex and sensitive form of writing. Writing haiku will really test a true writer’s ability.

  10. I very much enjoyed your article and I`m always on the look out for tips on spicing up a blog post. Thanks for sharing this different angle on writing.

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