Picture the scene: Your coffee is warm, your laptop is charged and you’ve got a full day of uninterrupted writing ahead of you. Bliss!
Except you can’t quite seem to get any words on the page. As much as you stretch your neck, check your notes and try to start a sentence… nothing materialises.
Or perhaps you’re halfway through writing a book and your inspiration has dried up. Maybe you have too many plot points to fit into the rest of your novel, or your memoir has grown arms and legs and can no longer be tamed
No matter what stage you’re at on your writing journey, let’s be honest… it gets messy.
This is how I felt when I went through some major personal changes recently, and I worried that writing would be too difficult to fit into my day as I struggled to navigate the mental impact of what was going on. But then I found tarot and suddenly, I was writing every day. Not only that, but I was writing in new ways, exploring poetry, creating fearlessly from a place of truth that I don’t think I’ve ever accessed before.
Now, tarot is a core part of the writing programs I host and I’m giving professional tarot readings too!
What is tarot?
Tarot is a deck of 78 cards, though to have originated as a card game and evolved to be used as a divination tool. It has grown in popularity, particularly as women begin to reconnect with their wild selves and honour their naturally intuitive nature.
And what is writing if not an intuitive process?
Listen to an interview with a successful writer and you will undoubtedly hear them fumble over their ability to explain how ideas, characters and plot points reveal themselves. A writer is often going on blind faith and feeling their way through the dark as they write, experimenting with forms and structures that may defy tradition but ‘feel right’ at the moment.
Isn’t tarot just fortune telling?
Personally, I think tarot brings out the magic within and can give you a sense of control over your life, open yourself up to opportunities and heighten awareness which can have a tangible impact on your future.
Yes, there are some fortune tellers, mediums and psychics who incorporate tarot into their services, but you don’t have to have special powers to use tarot in your everyday life.
Tarot imagery and meanings are based on the human experience and therefore are relatable to anyone who is… human. So if you’re reading this with human eyes, you have the ability to look at tarot and gain some insight!
How can writers use tarot as a storytelling tool?
Tarot is made up of 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards. The Major Arcana concerns big moments in life and karmic lessons. Think of these as the major points in a story, those plot points that a novel hinges on, or the twists and turns that keep a reader engaged.
The Minor Arcana moments are everyday situations, little lessons or obstacles that crop up daily. You might like to think of these as specific scenes in a story that support character development, theme and overall structure.
Tarot encourages a daily writing habit
Even as a seasoned writer, I have always struggled to get into a regular routine.
Journaling is one of those things that I know help my creative process but it’s something I couldn’t seem to nail down as a daily habit.
When I discovered tarot, I found that pulling a card or three automatically made me want to open up a notebook and write. Because tarot cards trigger thoughts and feelings, most writers will naturally want to document this. In the same way, that morning pages (made famous by Julia Cameron) can shake of the dust for writers, tarot and journaling can serve the same purpose.
Tarot clears the mind
So often the thing that stops us from writing at our best is nothing to do with the writing itself. During my years as a writing mentor, I’ve come to realise that its the internal struggle that holds most writers back.
The self-doubt, fear of failure, past rejections… the list goes on! Working through your own limiting beliefs and old narratives can clear the way for you to get out of your own way and start writing with confidence.
Question to ask tarot: How am I holding myself back with writing?
How to use Tarot in your novel writing
If you are working on a writing project, tarot can help you reconnect with the story but also through up solutions to things you’re struggling with. Tarot is based around storytelling, so it is jam-packed with conflict, characters, emotions and revelations that can inform your plot.
For example, say you are struggling to think of a chance encounter that will introduce a key character to your story. Here are some ways that cards could throw up ideas:
3 of Swords
Themes: Heartbreak, loss, grief.
Perhaps your character appears at a speed dating event or a funeral.
6 of Pentacles
Themes: Charity, breadcrumbing, economic imbalance.
If your character is from a different economic background from your main character, perhaps they meet through a mentoring program, job centre or charity awards ceremony.
Themes: Addictions, shadow self, unhealthy attachments.
Perhaps your new character is an ex with an unhealthy obsession, or an addict meets your main character at a support group.
Tarot adds depth to your characters
Tarot is full of character archetypes which can help flesh out your character traits and backstory.
Take The Fool for instance, who is a hapless innocent youth at the beginning of a journey. Full of naivety and hope, they ignore advice from others and are willing to step off a cliff without looking.
The High Priestess, on the other hand, is a wise guardian of the spiritual realm. She is highly in tune with the moon cycles and holds divine wisdom.
These are just two of the archetypes that you’ll find in the deck to inspire a variety of characters. When writing non-fiction, you will see the cards start to mirror aspects of the people you are writing about too.
Ask the cards: What is this character’s hidden secret?
More questions to ask the tarot cards:
- How can I improve my work in progress?
- How can I build a sustainable writing habit?
- What from the past is holding me back?
- What does my future writing career look like?
- How can I boost my chances of getting my book published?
- What writing opportunities am I not seeing?
- How can I be more creative today?
- What isn’t working in my novel plot?
- What should be the focus of my writing today?
- What should be the key theme of my memoir?
- What should my poetry collection be inspired by?
- What should I journal about today?
To learn more about tarot, book a reading with me where we can talk through your writing and any stumbling blocks you may be facing.
Whether you are a new writer or have been published many times, tarot can offer a fresh perspective on your creative works. There is no need to get bogged down in specific meanings and traditions, simply pick a deck that you like the look of and start pulling cards with the prompts I’ve shared here.
Like writing, tarot reading takes practice and will get easier the more you do it!
I’ve devised a set of tarot spreads for writers. You can sign up for my writers newsletter to get access to them as well as all my other free resources.