It feels wonderfully creative to try writing your first draft with tarot cards. You get to play, chase ideas, come up with inspiration, and make decisions, all using your tarot cards.
We all have a different process when we write our first drafts. Some of us consider ourselves to be plotters, while others are discovery writers (or pantsers). The real difference between plotting and discovery writing isn’t as big as people make it out to be. We ALL do the exact same things, we’re just doing them in different order, and concentrating our time on different areas of the writing process.
Plotters spend a lot of time before writing (to create that outline), and they basically do a developmental edit BEFORE they write the first draft. Discovery writers spend a lot of time after writing (to revise and clean it up), and they do their developmental editing AFTER they write the first draft.
You DON’T need to create an outline or even a plan before you start writing. You can write fantastic stories just by sitting down at the page and getting started.
But there are certain challenges to writing this way – and your tarot cards can help you address those challenges, to make your writing more interesting, more creative, and more fun. Each time you try writing your first draft with tarot cards, you’ll get better at the process.
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I LOVE to plan and organize information. The idea of just sitting down to write without knowing where I’m going sounds like crazy-talk to me. I’d never get a single word down.
But – and this is very important – my way isn’t the right way. It’s just one way of doing things. What matters is YOUR way.
All writers are different – and every book you write or story you tell will have a different process. Just because you can’t or don’t want to outline your books doesn’t make you a bad writer – and it doesn’t even hinder your ability to make good money with your stories, if that’s what you wish.
What are the benefits of NOT plotting?
Even though the idea of writing without an outline – being a pantser or a discovery writer – is terrifying to me, there are some benefits…
- It tends to be a little more efficient and take less time – for some people. This goes against common wisdom, which says that plotting always faster and more efficient. Plotting IS usually faster and more efficient for SOME people. But that doesn’t mean it’s the efficient and fast way for YOU.
- When you discovery write your first draft, you’ll be able to see the structure, subplots, character arcs, and plot holes clearly – in STORY form, not outline form. So you’re getting the whole picture, instead of just the frame and structure of it.
- The writing feels extremely creative and challenging – which lots of people love – because you’re making story decisions at the same time that you’re writing dialogue, settings, descriptions, characters, and everything else. You’re juggling lots of balls, and some people thrive on that type of challenge.
- For some writers and some stories, it’s easy to “hold it all in your head” – especially when you’re telling simple stories, have a lot of writing experience, or are writing in a genre that you’re extremely familiar with.
- And for some people, especially people who love wordplay, creative adventures, and writing that first draft, it comes naturally and it’s just FUN!
Writing without a plan has its benefits, but it also has its drawbacks, too.
What are the drawbacks of being a discovery writer?
- For some writers, discovery writing means throwing out a lot of words. You’ll have fun during the first draft, trying to figure out what your story is and where it’s going, but once you get to the revision stage, you’ll realize there’s just so many tangents, subplots, and scenes that don’t serve your story. Into the trashcan they go. It FEELS like wasted effort (but it’s not, these rabbit holes are just a part of your process – so don’t get down on yourself).
- If you don’t understand story structure, it can be hard to “rescue” a story once it’s written. Or maybe you realize you told it in the wrong POV, or with the wrong character as the lead. Rewriting the WHOLE thing over again is the only way to solve it, and that’s just lots more time and work.
- In the writer community, especially the people who are looking to make a full-time income from self-publishing their work, there is a HUGE bias against being a discovery writer. The vibe is that the “only” way to make money as a writer is to plot before you start writing – which means a lot of advice won’t apply to you as a discovery writer and you won’t have the support that you need. Just know there are definitely discovery writers who make a full-time living writing books, and you can be one too, if that’s you’re goal.
- For some people, the writing is the worst part about being a writer. Being a discovery writer means you spend A LOT of time in the first draft stage of writing. So, if you’re like me and you’re a writer who loves planning and plotting and revision, but hates the first draft stage, you’re not going to enjoy being a discovery writer.
It’s not an either/or thing. It’s a continuum, so while some people (like myself) might fit securely into either end of the plotter/pantser divide, most people are somewhere in the middle.
Writing a First Draft with Tarot Cards
So…HOW, exactly can you use your tarot cards as a discovery writer to write your first draft?
Your tarot cards contain at least 78 little stories, with archetypes, personalities, and little narrative scenes. When you’re brainstorming, you can use a prescribed layout, or you can just lay down a few cards and see what connections exist between them.
There are no rules when it comes to idea-gathering and brainstorming with your tarot cards. You can use a tarot spread layout to direct your questions. You can let the cards guide you WITHOUT asking specific questions. You can use a mix of writing prompts with your cards, with the cards helping to guide your story and ideas.
When you’re stuck in a specific point during the first draft writing phase, you can use your cards to ask questions about your characters, setting ideas, scenes, conflict, worldbuilding, and anything at all! The video above has many many more ideas, including a few sample tarot spreads to help you get started, so be sure to check it out.