The full story:
In late summer 2013, while my consulting plate at Riot was stacked higher by the minute, I knew I would need to drastically reduce the number of gun-for-hire writing assignments I accepted moving forward, and I didn’t want to let the writing muscle atrophy after all the momentum I’d gained since my first paid gig for the Chicago Tribune 2 years prior.
I considered working towards a large goal like a novel by the end of 6 months, maybe 1 year; a short story every 4 weeks; or a 1-act play or screenplay each quarter. I realized these projects were easily derailed or too monkey-wrench susceptible, particularly for me. The habit of daily writing I was trying to develop could wind up over by day 1. I needed something I could complete each day, that wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes, usually.
Inspired by Song A Day‘s Jonathan Mann, who I discovered while launching music + moxie, and who set out to write 1 complete song everyday over the course of a year, but wrote over 2,500 (and counting), I re-reviewed my options for short, stand-alone writing that I could complete daily in cue infomercial voice just 30 minutes or less:
- Poems? Nope – those either go on forever until I get up to pee and forget about them while I tinkle or fall prey to endless revision, and wind up unfinished either way;
- Songs? No – if the music eluded me I’d be sunk;
- Limericks were also out, because though they are short enough and structured enough, I would need perfection and that’s back at the revision-ad-nauseum issue again, but what about…
- Haiku? YES. I once wrote an entire review of a Bands Coachella set in Haiku. 2nd graders are assigned Haiku to complete in class – and if a seven-year-old can do it, then so the hell could I.
Besides, if I couldn’t find time to write 15 lousy syllables each day, that don’t even need to rhyme, or follow a particular foot and meter maybe I didn’t really deserve to call myself a writer.
I’ve always loved Haiku because they are the original rebellious, anti-rule lit outcasts of the poetriarchy; rejecting the established and universally-accepted poetic law of their day and playing up juxtaposition in nature, whenever possible. Look, if you know me even a little bit, you know that i am juxtaposition in nature.
Even the syllable count isn’t actually set in stone (and you can tell that to your second grade teacher who docked you from O to E because you were a syllable light in line 2) – if you can say line 1 with 4 syllabi, and need to add a filler word to make it ‘perfect’ a true Haikuist would ditch the filler word – haiku is anti-establishment and anti-filler at it’s core – it was the original expression of the 90’s Seattlite’s DIY Punk ethos. But centuries ago and in Japan.
Anyways, 15 lousy syllables was a lot harder than it sounds those first few weeks. There were a couple weekend days where 30 minutes max was a cruel joke, 2 hours in. But then, after maybe 10 – 12 weeks, I noticed I was mostly thinking and speaking in 15-syllable segments. I had excess haiku for emergency use on days when I was sick or had a migraine.