Take five sheets of paper and draw a line down the middle of each one. On the left side of each sheet, write “Sensations” (for sensory experiences). On the right side, write “Emotion/Assessment” (for how you felt or what you were thinking about at the time).
Spend the next five weekdays, starting on a Monday, paying attention to each of your five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, taste (the exercise may get harder later in the week as you progress to senses that are typically less dominant). At the end of each day, try writing at least one tanka about your sensory focus for that day. Try to avoid directly saying what you were feeling or thinking about at the time of each sensory impression. Instead, try to imply those feelings or conclusions by writing about what might have caused those feelings. In other words, if seeing a baby spread its fingers makes you feel joyful, don’t write about the concept of joy, write about those fingers spreading—trust the image itself to make others joyful too! By carefully leaving out statements of feelings, you empower the poem to imply them.