Ten Tips for NaHaiWriMo Prompting

The NaHaiWriMo page on Facebook features a daily prompt to help inspire regular haiku writing. This tradition began on Facebook on the very first day of the first NaHaiWriMo event, on February 1, 2011. The community of Facebook writers loved the prompts so much, they asked for them to continue in subsequent months. As a result, the prompts happen year-round, and remain a strong source of haiku inspiration for many hundreds of poets, including on Twitter and elsewhere beyond Facebook. The NaHaiWriMo tradition has been to have a different guest prompter each month. In 2014, we also started having all of the prompts each month begin with letters of the alphabet in order, with words starting with A for all of January 2014, B for February, and so on. We finished with Z in February of 2016. If you are interested in being a prompter, or have been asked to be a prompter, here are some suggestions for you to consider.

  1. Provide prompts, one new prompt each day, that explore both objective and subjective/conceptual ideas. A prompt such as “bowl” will produce very different results from “emptiness.”

  2. Variety and creativity are welcome in your prompts, including subjects that are both dark and light in tone. Don’t worry about possibly repeating prompts that have been used before, but do not repeat any of your own prompts within your month.

  3. Feel free to connect your prompts with historical or topical events related to the day in question, but please keep each prompt relatively short.

  4. Please date each prompt and add it as a comment on the monthly note (with the name of your month) in the NaHaiWriMo tab on the Facebook page. In addition, please post the prompt and its date on the Community tab (this is helpful because users of some smartphones and tablets cannot access the NaHaiWriMo tab on Facebook). Just one prompt should be posted once per day, not several at once, please (the goal is to promote daily interaction).

  5. Remember that NaHaiWriMo has a worldwide audience, so it’s good to post each daily prompt up to 24 hours before the day to which it applies (depending on your time zone). This way, if you live in the Western hemisphere, your prompt won’t seem like it’s a day late for people in Japan or Australia, although it will feel early for others. It helps to check New Zealand time, and make sure your prompt for a given day is posted before that day starts in New Zealand.

  6. If your prompt is seasonal, please remember that seasons are opposite in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Participants who aren’t in the current season of your prompt can easily project themselves or remember something in that season, but you might want to offer an alternative seasonal prompt for folks in the opposite hemisphere, or at least acknowledge that your seasonal prompt may not match the season where some participants live.

  7. Please keep a record of your prompts for the entire month. When the month ends, please send your complete list of prompts to Michael Dylan Welch to be added to the NaHaiWriMo site.

  8. If you need to be away during part of your month, feel free to post a few prompts in advance (if you really have to), or ask Michael Dylan Welch or a friend on the NaHaiWriMo site to post the prompts on your behalf (in general, though, please try to avoid posting more than one prompt ahead of its day).

  9. If you want to suggest that people post haiga for one of your prompts, that’s fine, but please provide an alternative way to respond other than haiga, because creating haiga is not possible for many participants.

  10. Please try to be as inclusive/worldwide as possible with each prompt, and be careful with references that might be overly specific, such as referring too often, for example, just to American culture (with occasional exceptions).

We also ask each prompter to respond to a brief set of questions for our “Meet the Prompters” page. You’ll be sent the questions just before your month starts, or shortly thereafter. If you respond to the questions in a week or two, that enables us to post your responses (with a digital photo of yourself) by about the middle of the month. This is a small way to recognize each person who volunteers his or her time as a daily writing prompter for NaHaiWriMo. These interviews also make participation more personal for those who respond to your prompts.

Thank you for volunteering your time as a monthly prompter for NaHaiWriMo. The NaHaiWriMo Facebook page has many hundreds of active participants, so on their behalf I thank you for your inspiration. If you have questions at any time, don’t hesitate to contact Michael Dylan Welch.