Aimless? In A Rut? Haiku yourself out of it.

Haikuing is fun and it only needs 17 syllables, give or take. I have haikued in the past, but I’ve nearly forgotten doing it until I came across this quote from Gilbert K. Chesterton:


I’m in a rut, at the moment. This happens every time I finish a project. When it’s big enough, like a novel, the rut can last a while. So, I wonder aimlessly, maybe try out new recipes in my kitchen, or go to restaurants and get the best meal I could buy. Food is one delicious way I deal with personal ruts.

G.K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton (Photo credit: giveawayboy)

This isn’t writer’s block, mind you. It’s a refractory period. Refractory periods are real (not implying that writer’s block is not) and can happen to anyone after any big or small, good or bad stress reactions. They’ve been studied. They refer to some kind of time-out, and in neurophysiology, they can be observed when your neurons take a rest after they’ve just been fired.

In a writer’s block, you’re usually dealing with a deprivation of ideas or inspiration. Refractory periods are about recouping. Your body needs them.

Anyway, it’s the Chesterton quote above that got me thinking about the rut I’m currently in. Every new novel I write is, to me, a new road I take. And every new novel presents new ways to make me feel good (at least for having finished something), but also new ways to make me vulnerable and open myself up to both acceptance and rejection. Thankfully, I’ve developed an armadillo hide (facing thesis committees or review/advisory groups helped).

Oh, criticisms can still hurt, but I found that plunging or easing into a new project or playing with more words (through reading, for instance) is a salve to the occasional pricks of pain you can get from them. But I do seriously pay attention to criticisms if they have merit.

So, here I am, dealing with my rut by playing with more words. I love well-turned phrases, of which G.K.Chesterton is a formidable master. He also has superb economy of expression, as you can see in this quote, so full of meaning that can change with time, or between you and me.

So, he inspired me to write some Haiku. Anyone can haiku. You may find this How to Haiku article of use, in case you want to give it a try. I don’t haiku often. But when I do, I have fun with it.

You only need 17 syllables. Rhyming is not essential in Haiku, but I like the cadence it gives to verse. The 5-7-5 syllables convention is no longer necessary either.

From pithy prose springs
Shoots, green nuggets spreading
Grists for living.

Reaching for the new
Untrodden roads strewn
With rock and rue.

And one, written tongue-in-cheek, but still inspired by Chesterton. The government has been fixing several roads in our area, but some of them are already showing wear. I suppose new roads have only one inevitable fate.

Freshly laid on pockmarked roadbed
Dark, smooth asphalt
So soon blighted.

English: drawing for The New York Times
English: drawing for The New York Times (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three more, but not about the Chesterton quote, but about words, springing from the equally pithy prose of a French philosopher.

Words are loaded pistols.
Jean-Paul Sartre

Words, like daggers, piercing
Like wounds, pestering
That vulnerable heart.

words wash2

When you find yourself in a rut or you’re just bored. Haiku yourself out of it.

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