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.