Can you say it in a zoo? Can you say it in haiku?

Do you ever find it difficult to put something into words, or some other form of expression?

what are word for?
(Photo credit: Darwin Bell)

I do a lot of writing, and have run into this problem quite a bit, because I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Any writer who sees their craft as an art form with an aspect of permanence will, I should think, care about every sentence that gets published, if not every word.

It’s about the message, right? What to say, how to say it – somehow you have to dally with a concept, fiddle with the things you know, dig up those things you know you don’t know, and then use those to synthesize something insightful and meaningful; or at the very least, make an astute observation.

Sometimes you do all of that, and you still get stuck on how to say something. When I get to this point it often has become a matter of syntax – you know what you want to say, but how do you say it just right? Can you make it flow, roll off the tongue, sound fresh and less clichéd?

I can’t think of a specific example, and not for lack of them – I like to deal with these things and then put them behind me. I think that working with flash – the short form – helps me to develop a better sense for it; I would recommend flashing because it helps one to learn and internalize ideas about those words and phrases that are unnecessary and those that give your writing more power. (Grunts enthusiastically)

English: Haiku of Basho
Haiku of Basho (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The shorter the piece, the tougher it is for me to convey an entire message. I struggle with this in nearly every haiku I write; those top out at seventeen words but are often less because the form is constrained traditionally to seventeen syllables, and most words are polysyllabic.

Admittedly I often come away from a haiku feeling like I could do better, but there comes a point at which you have to let it go and observe it in the wild;

so it goes with many of our creations.

What do you think — have you done a lot of short form work? Does it help your expression, or do you find it too restrictive for your taste?

This post was prompted by today’s Daily Post prompt.


  1. I always read through my blog before letting it go and often shorten the text, one of my problems to say too much when not necessary. I also have to be careful how I write as I tend to be often influenced by the German way of saying things. I partook in a flash fiction blog on another site (multiply – now out of existence). We had 55 words to write about a picture supplied. It was a good exercise.

    • Yes, I could see 55 being a great exercise, also very tough. I tend to have nail-biting sessions over the 100- and 75-word pieces for Flash in the Pan, and rarely I will post a fiction piece for for Trifextra, which is 33 words at most.

  2. brevity–thou art a jewel. I say what i want–then reformat it to type–poem, humorous op ed, limerick style rhyme, tweet, whatevs…that always works best for me. Then I put everything in active voice, and check compound and repeated verbery!! Also boring or cliche meta4s–sentences…SheNANigans!!


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