Your tarot cards are ideal tools for creativity. Using tarot for planning your novel is a great way to get inspiration, find ideas, and complete your project.
Inside of every single Rider-Waite-Smith-based tarot deck are 78 cards filled with stories and personalities and archetypes and scenes.
So if you’re a writer, using your tarot cards will unleash a goldmine of ideas, inspiration and guidance.
This video is part of the Tarot for Writers Series and will talk about your book project as a whole, with tips on how tarot can help you with every single stage of the creative cycle.
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What is the Creative Cycle?
And why is it important? There’s no official definition to explain the Creative Cycle is and how it works. But there is a process that we all go through when we’re creating art, producing a series of videos, writing a book, or creating anything at all. And we’ll be using tarot for planning our novel in each stage of the cycle.
First we collect ideas until we are overflowing with them.
Out of this Idea Soup comes a spark of inspiration. This inspiration may be a single idea, or it may be the combination of ideas. Either way, it’s something that has grabbed us and we are ready to explore it deeper.
So we do research to get to know our idea better, including what has been done by others, how it’s worked in the past, how it could possibly work, how it’s designed currently, and what potential challenges might exist when we approach the topic.
Eventually, we’re going to develop our own thoughts about that idea and we will produce a prototype based off of our own thoughts and ideas.
We’ll evaluate and refine that prototype based on our own goals and possibly feedback from people we trust.
We will develop that prototype into a finished product.
And then we’re going to share our resulting work with others.
Your tarot cards can help you in each of the seven steps.
Step One: Using Tarot for Planning Your Novel
When we collect our ideas and fill our well until we get this spark of inspiration, one of the most obvious ways of using tarot is to brainstorm your ideas and connections.
You can ask your cards questions, and then have them answer those questions: “What if?” and “What then?” and “What next?” and “How about if this happens? And what if this other thing also happened?”
As a creative you need to factor in time for rest, reflection and self care. You need this sort of pointless, directionless daydreaming and idea-gathering time. This is an important part of using tarot for planning your novel!
Step Two: Using Tarot for Ideas & Inspiration
When we identify an idea we find interesting or have a couple ideas that we want to mash up together, we’re ready to move on to this step. The ideas often come from our life, from the news, from stories we hear, from other people, from books, or movies, or TV. But obviously, they can come from your tarot experience as well.
Eventually, you’re going to come to a place where you need to make a choice and choose which idea to work on. Sometimes an idea grabs you and it will not let go. So you don’t really have that choice!
But sometimes you can make a conscious choice because you know what the market is ready for, or it’s going to please your audience and they’re asking for it, or you’re creating something for someone specific, and you know what they’re gonna like.
Tarot helps as a guide during this step, not as a decision-making tool.
Step Three: Using Tarot for Fiction Research
Once you’ve chosen your idea, you’re ready to move on to the research stage where you learn more about your specific idea, such as what the genre expects, what other writers are doing, how other people have approached this, and what sort of challenges you’re going to face during this particular project.
This is another area where tarot really shines. So while much of the research is going to happen online, in person, and through books, you can also use your cards to guide you to help and explore what you’re learning and where to where to turn next.
When you’re writing and you’re in this research stage, the project is going to guide your questions and your research topics.
Some questions you can ask your cards are, Where can I look for ideas, inspiration and information? Who can I ask? If this is true, what else might be true? What will be the most challenging part of this particular project or process? Do I have enough info right now to get started writing the story? Am I ready to move on?”
Step Four: Using Tarot for Outlining or Your First Draft
Depending on your unique process, the next step of creating your prototype is to plot out your story in outline form, or go directly to writing the first draft.
Use free-writing for 5-15 minutes to come up with ideas and possibilities for your story, guided by your tarot cards.
Work through your tarot deck one card at a time, card by card, asking different questions to prompt your free-writing sessions.
Some questions to ask the cards are, “What if ___ were to happen? If ___ happens, then what if ___ happens? Or what if ___ happens instead? What would the readers expect to happen in the story or scene? And then what could happen instead? How could I flip this? What haven’t I considered about this story yet?”
Step Five: Refining Your Story with Tarot
The cards are great tools when you’re ready to evaluate and refine your outline or first draft prototype. This phase of the creative cycle is where things start to come together, and the story becomes real.
This is where you take your shitty first draft or your zero draft or that fleshed out outline, and then you do something with it. You evaluate it with a clear eye and you start taking the mud and the muck and you turn it into something that actually resembles a really good story.
Many of your decisions for the story have been made already but if you’re struggling with this phase, it can really help to do a tarot spread about the project (not about the story) and why you’re struggling.
So some great questions to ask your cards are, “Why does Act Two feel so plodding and slow? What needs to happen here to make this scene exciting? Why is this part of the story not working? Is it a character problem, a motivation problem, a conflict problem, or something else? Why am I losing interest in this project?”
Step Six: Using Tarot for Finishing Your Novel
This is the final editing stage of your writing project. You’re not focused on the story as much as you’re focused on the craft of telling it, at the scene, paragraph, sentence and word level.
So many people get stuck here, re-working and re-editing the same story over and over and over and over again, because they’re too afraid to move on and share their work with others.
Some ways you can use your tarot cards is just to ask questions during this phase like, “Have I created the best story I can right now? Is it ready to be shared with the world? Why am I afraid to finish the story?”
Obviously, as we get further through the Creative Cycle, we’re using our tarot cards less and less for inspiration and ideas about the actual story, and we’re working more on our mindset and beliefs and the project itself.
Step Seven: Sharing Your Story With Others
When we’re ready to share our finished product with others, it can be emotionally exhausting. We confront so many emotions and limiting beliefs and blocks when we birth our creative babies and share them out into the world.
Anytime you’re facing a limiting belief, a mindset issue, or you feel emotionally exhausted, your tarot deck is your number one tool for helping you investigate what’s really going on. This is less about using your tarot for the project and more about using tarot for yourself.
Use your tarot deck with your favorite self-care or personal development focused tarot spread to help break your limiting beliefs and find the few seconds of courage that you need to press the “publish” button. You can do it!