Get in the Flow With This Tarot Writing Exercise

writing with tarot

I use tarot in conjunction with writing a lot, as in all the time. One practice that I really enjoy is this simple stream of consciousness exercise. I came up with it last year in preparation for NaNoWriMo. You can use it for personal journaling or creative writing, fiction, non-fiction, whatever you like. It’s also great with morning pages if you follow that practice.

Begin by setting a goal for yourself, 20 minutes, 3 pages, 1000 words, however you would like to measure it. I usually go for 3 pages, but I encourage you to pick the parameters which sound best to you.

Now as I said, this is a stream of consciousness exercise, so the plan is to write and not stop until you hit your goal, whether it’s in minutes, pages or words. To start the exercise you draw a card from a freshly shuffled deck. Use the image in that card as inspiration to get your writing started.

Here are a couple ways you can use your card to inspire you:

  • Describe the scene and don’t scrimp on the details
  • Write about what might happen next
  • Give one of the figures in the card something to say
  • Write some commentary about what appears to be going on.
  • Zoom in on a small detail in the card and write about that
  • Take on the persona of a character in the image and write from their perspective.

For personal journaling you can equate the image to something that is currently on your mind or something that you are struggling with. You might consider what about the card image you find inspiring or bothersome.

Obviously these are just a few of endless possibilities. The important thing is to get that pen moving or to make those computer keys dance. 🙂

tarot card reading for creative writing

Write until you feel yourself beginning to slow down or get stuck, then you draw the next card from the deck and use that as fresh inspirational fuel so that you can keep writing. Continue doing this, whenever you start to loose steam, pull another card, until you reach your goal.

It’s interesting because sometimes when I write my 3 pages I end up only drawing 1 card. I feel inspired and I never run out of things to jot down. Other times I’ve needed 3 or 4 cards just to get through 3 pages. It’s actually more fun when I need 3 or 4 cards, which brings me to an alternative possibility for how you could do this exercise…

Instead of pulling a new card when you start to loose your momentum, you can plan when to pull the next card. For example, you could draw one at the beginning of every new page, or at 5 minute intervals, or every 500 words. You’re still writing continuously, that’s the whole point, but you’re regularly adding a new bit of inspiration. It’s like building up a fire. You add a new log regularly to get it burning nice and steady.

That’s it, pretty simple, but very effective.

I hope you enjoy the exercise and if you try it out I would love to hear how it goes. Write on!

-Cam

Interested in other ways to use tarot with writing? Check out all my creative writing posts here.

Three Card Creative Writing Spreads – Part 2

Greetings fellow writers and tarot lovers,

coffee and writingIts time for another batch of tarot spreads designed to assist us with our creative writing projects.

For today’s post I decided to focus on character development. Character development can be crucial, especially in longer works. The more you know about and develop your characters, the more their actions, choices and narratives take on an organic flow. Sometimes characters take on a life of their own and they will tell you what what they would do next and you just have to transcribe. That’s when the writing process really gets magical.

A little caveat, you can of course spend too much time on character development and never actually get around to writing the story at all. Be mindful and don’t feel like you need to know every tiny detail before you can start writing your story. Often characters will reveal things about themselves along the way too, so while you can get the gist of your character with these spreads, allow room for some natural development as well.

A caveat to the caveat: I ended up with an entire second story because I got so caught up in writing back story about a character once, and we wouldn’t have the Silmarillion if Tolkien didn’t love to extensively develop his characters and story environments, so if you get carried away during character development it could also be a really good thing. As in all things, know thyself. Know when thyself is just procrastinating, and know when thyself is on a roll. 😉

Basic Character Development Spread

Basic Character Development Spread

One way to do this first spread is to use only the court cards, but using the entire deck works just as well.

Card #1 – Personality: This is one of the character’s core personality traits. Its likely the most dominant one, or the one that they show to the world and express most externally.

Card #2 – Strengths: This card represents a skill or trait that the character has which is helpful or useful to them throughout the story.

Card #3 – Weaknesses: Weaknesses represent traits or tendencies of the character which get in the way, create obstacles or undermine a character’s success. It can also point out an area where the character may need get help or assistance from another character.

Antagonist Development Spread

Antagonist Character Spread

A lot of the time the antagonist in a story is the most fun to write. Its a chance to let all our shadows come out to play without any real world consequences. This spread focuses on getting below the character’s facade and seeing what sneaky, devious mischief they are really up to. *evil laugh*

Card #1 – How this character appears on the outside: This is the face your antagonist shows to the world (or other character, you can certainly use this spread for characters other than a strictly identified “antagonist” and this can be a good way to examine the many facets of a character.). This is what they want everyone to see. This is how they intend that everyone perceives them. This card will tell you if they are overtly antagonistic, passive-aggressive, or trying to pass themselves off as one of the “good guys”. Maybe its the armor they wear as emotional protection.  It could be an idealized version of themselves which they project out into the world.

Card #2 – How this character actually is on the inside: This is the truth beneath the mask of Card #1. This is who the character really is. This likely represents a part of themselves they are trying to hide, either intentionally or unintentionally, either to achieve their own antagonist ends or out of shame.

Card #3 – Hidden Motivation/Ulterior Motive: This card tells you what is driving the character’s antagonism and what their hidden agenda is. It represents what’s in it for them and what they are trying to secretly achieve (or maybe not so secretly).

I hope you enjoy these spreads and that they inspire dozens of interesting characters to populate your writing.

(If you liked these spreads check out my Basic Plot Development Spread and my Three Card Creative Writing Spreads Part 1)

Until next time…Write on dear friends 🙂

Tarot Journaling – Use Your Authentic Voice

tarot journalsHello Beautiful Tarot People,

Tarot journaling is a hot topic right now, which is quite exciting for me since its one of my favorite activities. So I thought I would jump in with a couple of my own thoughts about this very fun and rewarding practice.

One of the hardest and most important things that I learned about journaling is that I needed to find and use my own authentic voice when I wrote about the cards.

For a long time I found myself mimicking what I had read in books and filling journal page after journal page with flat recitation.

The end result was that I wasn’t connecting with the cards much better and I experienced quite a bit of frustration. Worst of all I started to get bored of journaling. Then one day I had an Ace of Swords moment and I realized that I needed to stop writing like I was trying to create an academic text and start writing like I was talking to my best friend, which if you are an introvert like me isn’t far from the truth since your journals can easily become your best friends and closest confidants.

Jounal and The High Priestess Card from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot Deck by Baba Studio

Journaling with the High Priestess from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot

So instead of droning on about “The High Priestess is the guardian of wisdom and the keeper of knowledge.” which is true, but pretty bland, I started writing more casually. I scribbled with more freedom and enthusiasm. I took notes about how cards made me feel. I tossed in expletives and exclamations. I associated cards with my own experiences and contemporary symbols. I gushed about the art, or how excited I was when certain cards showed up in my personal readings. I went on diatribes about how aggravating the court cards were or how exasperating it was that I couldn’t figure out why the Five of Pentacles was stalking me. I stopped being afraid of sounding silly. I stopped censoring myself.

I believe that Journaling needs to be that way to be effective. It should offer you freedom, a place to play with ideas and associations and symbols. It should be a joy to do, a glorious adventure. If its not, try something different. Experiment. You will know when you are doing it “right” because it will flow and feel exciting.

Until next time…tarot and journal on. 🙂

Creative Writing – Basic Plot Development Tarot Spread

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I love writing and I love combining tarot and story-telling. Using the cards for writing prompts and designing spreads to generate story ideas are two fun ways to do that.

The spread that I’m sharing today produces a general plot outline. The purpose of the spread is to get the creative juices flowing, perhaps even open pathways to the muse, who is quite a fickle creature.

When it comes to “interpreting” this kind of spread you aren’t really looking for “accuracy” as much as you are looking for something that clicks with you creatively. The amount of freedom you have is what makes it so much fun.

As you go along ask yourself…What in the cards is exciting or compelling?

If you start on the first few cards and then completely deviate away from the rest… who cares?! It’s your story! You’re on a roll! The inspiration is flowing!…That is what the spread is designed to do.

So without further ado, here is the spread. (I provide a more detailed descriptions below the diagram.)

Basic Plot Spread

Card #1 – Hero/Protagonist: This card will represent your main character. You can separate the court cards from the pack, shuffle and select one if you want to get a definitive personality type. I use the whole deck myself.

Card #2 – Current Situation: These are the circumstances that the character is experiencing at the beginning of the story. It can describe an emotional state or physical situation. Usually it will have some undesirable aspect that will operate as the catalyst for the story.

Card #3 – Goal: This may be closely related to Card #2 or it may be the catalyst for the story by itself. It is what the character is attempting to accomplish. If it relates to Card #2 it is likely a remedy for the current situation, if not the goal is driving the character and the plot on its own.

Card #4 – Obstacle/Conflict: This is the thing that is getting in the way of the character’s goal. It can be a person or circumstances or a character’s own flaws. It can be related to card #2 as a specific aspect of the current situation.

Card #5 – Who Will Help/Ally: This is a person, a secondary character that will assist the protagonist in achieving their goal and/or overcome their obstacle. I suppose this could also be considered as “what” will help if you don’t want an additional character here.

Card #6 – Who Will Hinder/Villain: This is another secondary character who will get in the way of the protagonists progress. It can be the villain of the story, it can be an accomplice if you’ve already identified a villain in Card #2 or Card #4,  or it can be a secondary or independent obstacle.

Card #7 – What They Must Learn: This can represent an area of growth, a point of transformation or a lesson that the main character must learn in order to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way.

Card #8 – Resolution/Outcome: The completion of the protagonist’s journey, the culmination of their efforts. This is the moment that the rest of the story has been leading up to, where you tie everything together.

I hope you enjoy working with this spread and I would love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below.

Happy writing all, 😉

-Cameron

Looking for more creative writing spreads? Check out these other articles.

Three Card Creative Writing Spreads – Part 1

Three Card Creative Writing Spreads – Part 2

Get in The Flow With This Tarot Writing Exercise