Daily Archives: September 7, 2011

You Want Haiku? I’ll Give You Haiku

Andy Ellis and Carol Lunch Williams haven’t yet paid me for my last blog entry. That, of
course, only helps to prove what I said last week: they can’t be trusted. But I’m not going to
belabor the point that novelists are prevaricators because it’s obvious. And in addition to being
prevaricators, I think they may also be bloodless, soulless zombies. More on that later.

What I am going to do is share something I do when I don’t feel like writing, a short brain-teaser
sort of exercise that gets the creative juices flowing. These short little drills don’t take much
time or much brain power, but they do require that you’re able to count to seven and defend
yourself at the same time.

OK, step one comes from the famous sports writer, Red Smith:

“There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”

Step Two: With your vein open and flowing, sit down at your keyboard (or, if you’re a dinosaur,
in front of a pad of paper) and prepare to write.

Step Three: For a moment, ignore the groaning and mawing zombies outside your window.
They’ve been attracted by the scent of your blood. More on that later.

Step Four: Settle into a Zen state by playing three games of Solitaire (on your computer if you’re
modern; with a deck of cards if you’re still living in the 20th century)

Step Five: Make sure that vein’s still open and that blood is still flowing. Pick up a crowbar to
keep the zombies at bay.

Step Six: Take a good look at the nearest zombie. Look for specific details: what does its breath
smell like? What kind of human tissue dangles from its ragged teeth? What, exactly,
is the pallor of its skin? Does it moan or groan? What does it want? Specific sensory
details are essential for this exercise.

Step Seven: Now find some suitable zombie-words that add up to 5 syllables. If the zombies
are getting to be a distraction, toss them a cat or some other small mammal to pacify their

blood lust while you jot down those words, the first line of your zombie haiku.

Step Eight: Pay attention now, because this is really important. Do not let the zombies get a
grip on your skull. By now they’re drooling for your brain, but you’ve still got two more
lines to write. Use the nearby fire ax and lop off a couple of their limbs. If you’ve got
a Bic lighter, flick it in their faces and make a loud noise. If you’re a blonde, tuck your
hair up under your Cleveland Indians ball cap. Finish that first line.

Step Nine: Drawing on your close-up and personal experience with the zombies, compose your
second line. Be sure to use specific, zombie-ish details as much as possible. This line

must have seven syllables, no more, no less. Resist the urge to ask the zombies for help
at this point. They’re notoriously lousy with rhythm and word choice.

Step Ten: After stepping into your latex scrub suit (to protect you from splatter) take the heavy-
gauge shotgun out from under your desk and blast the nearest zombie in the head. While
its companions dine on the fresh gore, block out the sucking and snarling sounds and

focus on writing line three: 5 more syllables to finish off your zombie haiku.

Step 11: Spray the ravenous pack of zombies with lighter fluid and torch them. Read your
zombie haiku aloud by the flickering light of their burning corpses. You may want to
cover your nose.

Step 12: Seal up that open vein, and get back to work on your real writing project. And don’t
forget to close the window.

As a veteran author of zombie haiku, I will share a few of my favorites here. Read them and

a good brain teaser?
try writing  zombie haiku
daily for a month

a haiku a day
will keep the undead at bay
unless they smell brains

zombie haiku are
highly addictive ‘cuz they
get into your blood

dyslexic zombies
want brains but relentlessly
stalk Brians instead

grading papers, late,
teacher dozes. zombies come
in to pick her brains.

teen zombies invade
junior high assembly
leave numbskulls behind

Thoreau a zombie?
who else would want to suck out
the marrow of life?

Poe was an easy
target for zombies because
of his tell-tale heart

foggy night, london
Dickens stumbles, zombies lurk
great expectations!

if Van Gogh had been
more ambitious he would have
mailed brain, not an ear

civil war zombies
spill breakfast on their shirts, wear
red badge of porridge

slick shiny jiggly
and red, is it jello or
a snack for undead?

in the absence of
brains and spleen, hungry zombies
snack on eye candy

“i’m having a brain
freeze,” i said. “i’ll have one too,”
said thirsty zombie.

fallen zombie cries,
“please, sir, lend me a hand”
Samaritan snack

chasing brainful blondes?
slow down, limping will suffice.
death trip imminent.


Filed under Chris