How Do You Write A Good Haiku?

by Anne B. Robinson

What is haiku? Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry, written in three lines and 17 syllables that often capture the essence of nature and human emotions. But what makes a good haiku?

Writing a good haiku can be tricky, as it’s both an art form and a language game that requires a balance of creativity and structure. In this article, we’ll explore the fundamentals of how to write a good haiku so you can craft beautiful and meaningful poems.

Haiku Basics

Before you begin crafting your haiku poem, there are some basic concepts you should familiarize yourself with.

Firstly, haiku is all about finding beauty at the moment, whether it’s through nature or an emotion you’re feeling. Secondly, you should aim for brevity; haiku poems are short and to the point.

In terms of structure, the first line should be 5 syllables long, the second line should be 7 syllables long, and the third line should be 5 syllables long.

This structure gives readers space to breathe in between lines and allows them to contemplate each line as they read along slowly. Additionally, traditional haikus have a ‘kigo’ or season word, which describes something specific about nature at a certain time of year.

The History of Haiku

The history of haiku goes back centuries to its origins in Japan. It was first popularized by Matsuo Bashō, one of Japan’s most beloved poets who wrote hundreds of classic haikus. His poems often drew on elements from his everyday life; they were highly descriptive and rich with imagery.

He wrote about various aspects of nature, such as mountains and trees, but he also touched on more spiritual themes like inner peace and mindfulness. His influence spread throughout Japan and beyond and has been an inspiration for countless poets over the years.

The Structure of a Haiku

A great haiku relies heavily on structure for success. In order to write an effective haiku, you must first understand its essential components: line breaks, images, season words (kigo), metaphor/simile/alliteration, among others. Let’s go through each one in detail:

Line Breaks

Line breaks are essential in any poem, but especially so in a haiku, where each line carries meaning and significance. Line breaks are used to emphasize certain words or ideas and create a visual rhythm for readers to follow. For example, if you want to emphasize “winter” in your poem, then you could break it up like this: Win-/ter/ comes…


Images are also important in a haiku because they evoke emotion and allow readers to form mental pictures in their minds. They can be anything from animals and plants to physical objects or abstract concepts; they should be vivid enough that readers can relate to them easily without needing too much explanation or description. For example, the sun/burns bright / like fireflies…

Season Words (Kigo)

Kigo are words that reference the season or time of year in which the poem was written. They are used to evoke emotion by tying the poem’s setting to nature or current events at the time of writing. For example, spring buds/open wide / under cherry blossoms…


Metaphors, similes, and alliteration are all great tools for expressing ideas concisely and powerfully within a haiku. They add depth to your poem by creating vivid comparisons that draw readers in and help convey your message more clearly. For example, Waves roll / like thunder / across the sea…

Choosing Your Subject

Now that you know the basics of haiku structure and have an understanding of its purpose, it’s time to choose your subject matter. When selecting your topic, consider what type of emotion or image you want to capture in your poem. Is it joy? Sadness? Peacefulness? Consider how your subject will fit into 17 syllables and decide on a kigo for your season word. For example, if you’re writing about springtime joy, perhaps use words like “budding” or “blossom” in your poem.

Crafting Your Poem

Once you know your poem’s structure and subject matter, it’s time to start writing! Begin by brainstorming words that accurately describe your chosen topic; both nouns and verbs are ideal for this part of the process. Don’t worry too much about meeting the exact number of syllables at this stage; focus more on finding words that communicate exactly what you want to say.

When writing each line separately, keep in mind that the order matters: Typically, you should start with concrete nouns or subjects first (like “budding tree”) and then follow up with abstract feelings (like “hope blooms”). This helps maintain the momentum of your poem while conveying both imagery and emotion in equal parts.

Editing Your Poem

Once you have your three lines written down on paper (or typed out on your computer), read it aloud several times until it sounds natural to your ear — like music or poetry flowing from your mouth.

This will help you determine which words need to stay and which ones should be tweaked or swapped out for something else entirely.

Think about where pauses naturally occur when reading aloud; these moments add rhythm to your poem, so embrace them when possible! Finally, don’t forget to include that kigo so that readers know when this moment takes place (e.g., “winter snowflakes falling gently”).

The Art of Letting Go

No matter how much time and effort you put into crafting a great poem, sometimes things don’t turn out quite as planned, even if you followed all of our advice above!

If this happens, don’t beat yourself up; instead, try looking at it from another angle or simply let go entirely for now. You can always come back later with fresh eyes or come up with a wholly different idea altogether! The most important thing is just to keep writing; practice makes perfect!


Writing a good haiku requires creativity as well as structure, but don’t let this intimidate you! With these tips in hand, you can easily create beautiful haikus with ease by understanding basics like structure and brevity; choosing appropriate subjects; crafting meaningful lines; and editing without getting hung up on perfectionism!

Haikus are meant to evoke emotions within readers, so don’t be afraid to express yourself fully while still adhering to their traditional rules; after all, everyone’s journey toward becoming a great poet is unique!

Related Posts