Fiction,  Writing

Tarot for Writers…Helpful Tool or Waste of Time?

As you can probably tell, Tarot is one of my absolute favorite tools to use as an author. I use it to help me with everything from character creation to plot design to marketing strategies. You name it, I’ve probably used Tarot to help me in some fashion.  But when I mention Tarot to other writers I sometimes get the following phrases:

It’s too woo, I’m not a witchy person.

I have my own things, I doubt Tarot will actually help me. 

I’m not intuitive enough for Tarot, don’t you have to be a 4th generation psychic?

I’ve looked at it, but Tarot doesn’t make any sense – what’s a pentacle?

Let me break down some of those myths and help you decide if Tarot is a useful tool for your writerly toolbox. 

Tarot is too “woo”

Yes, it’s true that witches and other spiritual people use Tarot as a tool to connect to their divine energy, and personally I use it that way too, but as a writer you don’t need to consider yourself woo to use the cards.  The thing I always tell people is it’s just cardboard pieces of paper with pretty imagery on it.  Imagery that can help your brain come up with new ideas. It’s a visual tool that can help with brainstorming – that’s it!

I promise you, they will not open any portals to an evil world or let in evil spirits. I have been using Tarot in this way for at least ten years, and I’ve never opened an evil portal yet. 

I don’t “need” Tarot

If you have tools and systems that work for you – great! I’m not asking you to replace those, I’m asking you to be curious and see if there are any places within your writing journey where you get stuck, need help, or might benefit from a new tool. 

Now, I personally teach a lot of ways to use Tarot because I use the cards in different ways, and I want you to have options.  So if you don’t need help with character creation, that’s awesome, but let’s say you get stuck in the middle when outlining, or have trouble coming up with conflict while drafting – that’s where you might be able to utilize the magical tool of Tarot.

I’m not intuitive enough for Tarot

If you’ve used Tarot for personal reasons, you might have heard that the books are bad and you should rely on your intuition only and that might be true if you’re looking to be a professional Tarot reader for others, but as a writer I think using the books is perfectly fine!  The books, the guides, and the online information can be extremely useful when you are brainstorming.  Yes, I will always guide you to start by just looking at the card and seeing what comes up, but then grab those books, look the card up online and see what else might help you with ideas. 

Now, if you start using one or two decks all the time, I believe your intuition will get stronger and you might not need the books as much, but even after ten years of using the cards I still grab the books for insight, new keywords, and other information sometimes.  It’s fine, I promise!

Tarot is overwhelming, I don’t know where to start!

I get it, Tarot, as a system, looks very overwhelming but once you learn the basics, it’s not so bad.  First know that there are two main parts – The Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana, and the Minor Arcana is broken up into 4 suits, like a deck of playing cards. You can watch my Creative Tarot 101 videos here to learn more about the Minor Arcana.

A normal deck of Tarot cards has 78 cards and on one hand that’s amazing, there are 78 things for you to look at and get inspiration from.  On the other hand, that’s 78 cards that you might feel like you have to learn and get “right” – you don’t, you don’t have to have the right answer, you just have to have “your” answer.

To start, I suggest getting a deck you feel connected to – you like the art or the colors and just start by looking at one card.  It can be the very first card in your deck or you can shuffle and pull one at random – whatever feels right to you.  Look at the card and just see, what’s going on, what is the figure or human doing? What are they thinking? Then look for one tiny detail and ask the same kinds of questions.  What is that tiny snail doing? What is he thinking? Ask those great writerly questions and let your imagination go wild! Then, if you want, you can look the card up in your guidebook as well.  

So, I would love to know, have you ever used Tarot as a writer before? If so – what’s your favorite deck!!  And if you haven’t, what’s stopping you and did these tips help you?

Oh…and if you’re doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year and would like some accountability, I’m running a FREE group with pep talk emails, check in emails, weekly writing Zooms in November and Preptober help so you are all ready to write come November 1st.  You can join here today!!