Like everyone else, at school I was taught that haiku was simply a matter of counting syllables. I disliked it but then I disliked most ‘rules’ at that age! About a dozen years ago I came upon The Haiku Anthology edited by Cor van den Heuvel and I loved lots of those haiku so I studied what he had to say in the intro and began trying it myself. Of course mine were fairly bad in retrospect but at least I was freed from the arbitrariness of 5-7-5.
From there I began surfing the web and found my self at Jane Reichhold’s ‘aha poetry’ site http://www.ahapoetry.com/haiku.htm Later I bought her book, Writing and Enjoying Haiku. (There’s not a lot in it that isn’t on the website, but it’s a lovely book. And good to have it all in one place with decent formatting!)
The bit that helped me most is when she quotes Betty Drevniok: “Write [haiku] in three short lines using the principle of comparison, contrast, or association…. This technique provides the pivot on which the reader’s thought turns and expands.” http://www.ahapoetry.com/haiartjr.htm and goes into somewhat prescriptive ways of writing haiku that I tried and had some success with. Also her ‘Fragment and Phrase Theory’, http://www.ahapoetry.com/haiku.htm#frag, helped me.
I do wish I had Haiku: A Poet’s Guide by Lee Gurga a bit earlier. It is the best book I have come across for learning haiku.
I also read a lot of essays, some useful, some not. But nothing beats reading good poems, and taking time with the ones you like. I also write out my favourites in a notebook; I learn a lot doing that. http://www.hsa-haiku.org/haikucollections.htm is a good source, especially the Henderson and Gerald Brady Awards. Plus there are many good online and print journals.
We started a local haiku group called Haiku Bindii in, I think, 2010. It was instructive to get and give feedback and to run the odd workshop. Nothing teaches the teacher like teaching! haiku-bindii.blogspot.com/
But regarding actual writing, I found that the most important thing is to keep it concrete, to rely on sensory experiences to convey a feeling. Things seen, heard, touched, or the taste of something, and the most poignant of the senses, smell, are the details (images) that draw a reader into the experience. The interaction between images (usually two) is what makes a haiku ‘more than the sum of its parts’.
I often write from prompts because I have the discipline of a flea. Prompts get me thinking about things, situations, and happenings. I usually free-write or free-associate for a while and then begin a sort of distilling process. Most of my work is ‘desk-ku’ but any writing relies on having lived through things and been aware, awake and sponge-like. Plus I couldn’t live without editing. I love the process; it’s like doing a puzzle or making jewellery. Also I spend a lot of time in nature. We have a few acres and I like gardening. Also we camp. Sometimes I ginko with friends, but I just take down notes; it’s rare for anything to come fully formed.
The Haiku Anthology http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/211530.The_Haiku_Anthology
Writing and Enjoying Haiku. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/211515.Writing_and_Enjoying_Haiku
Haiku: A Poet’s Guide by Lee Gurga http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/211517.Haiku