Sunday, 28 March 2010

Rules of Haiku

I occasionally dabble in haiku, an ancient Japanese form of poetry. It's supposed to be about nature, but balls to such restrictions. You find haikus can be about anything these days. To explain how to do it, here's a haiku... about haiku.

Five syllables first
Seven syllables follow
End it with five more.

Well. Isn't that the most evocative, heartfelt thing you ever read. Maybe we should stick with nature-based haiku after all. God, I was bored when I came up with that.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Frantic Scribble

"I would often black out for 10 hours at a time only to realise that 10 more pages had been scrawled out."
-Bret Easton Ellis on writing American Psycho

The following is an exercise that I was given at a writers' group at my local library. With a set time (maybe two minutes), we were to write as fast as we could about anything. Here's what I scraped out of my brain and dolloped onto the page:

I was lifting weights when my mum called me down. Exercise, like writing, is something I try to do nearly every day. The reason? My writing mind is as much of a muscle as you will find on every other part of my body- it needs to be worked daily. If it isn't worked, it will shrink.

I put the dumbells down and when I got downstairs, my mum handed me the Chron. It was open on the Groups page. She'd found an advert for a writing group in Lees Library, just down the road from me.

I showered, dressed and darted out of the house. Opportunities like this must be grabbed by the throat. Hesitation must not hinder me.

As with a few groups I've visited, I was about half the age of the other members- and I was the only guy. Not exactly the clientele I should be marketing my drug-riddled, paranoid writing to. But, I thought, they might be interested in the poem that Aphelion Magazine took from me.

Who knows.

So now I sit in Lees Library, eating chocolate-chip cookies that one of the ladies brought in, and forming erratic, mostly meaningless sentences.

Afterwards, the group coordinator told us that the purpose of this was to get used to hand-writing words and to develop a rhythm- a counter to writer's block, in effect. To keep the words flowing. This two-minute challenge seems like a good way of starting a bout of writing, whether you're planning on a one-off haiku or full-blown, tolkien-length saga. I didn't revolutionise the world of literature, but I liked the pressure of it.

Try it. Step away from the keyboard, pick up the pen, set the countdown on your battered 2007 Sony Ericsson (What? Only I still own one of these?) and... write.