How to Bust a Creative Block with Tarot Cards

5 Ways to Fast Forward Through Creative Blocks and Get Back to Writing Songs, Crafting Stories, or Creating Any Other Kind of Art

Whether you write songs or short stories, craft novels or concertos, work in clay or chords or characters, we all know what it’s like to have a creative block. Regardless of chosen medium, every creative hits a block at one point or another. Creative blocks can be extremely frustrating and, unfortunately, difficult to overcome. If you find yourself in a creative funk, fear not: we’ve got a solution.

You don’t have to be “witchy” to use tarot cards. While they are traditionally a divination tool, they can also be powerful engines for generating new ideas when the creative juices aren’t exactly flowing. Here’s a sneak peak of the strategies we’re covering here:

  • Draw inspiration from a single card
  • Do a full tarot spread for your project
  • Define your project with the luck of the draw
  • Use the cards to “cross-train” your creativity
  • Let the cards inspire a project board or playlist
two writer sit in folding chairs on the street with typewriters in front of them beside a sign that reads poets for hire
Tarot cards can be an effective tool for writers and other artists who aren’t sure what to create next.

Getting Started: Finding a Deck That Inspires You

Using tarot cards as a creative tool is going to be most effective if you put some time and energy into finding a tarot deck that really speaks to you. There are countless decks out there -- from the classic Ryder-Waite deck to unique indie tarot decks to bigger brand decks on Amazon -- so there’s plenty to choose from.

If you don’t have a deck on hand and you need to get through a creative block ASAP, you can also explore online options for pulling tarot cards. Try a few and find one you like -- some of them even allow you to choose between multiple decks before you get started.

Creative Block Buster #1: Reflect on a Single Tarot Card

There’s more to tarot cards than meets the eye. If you’re a seasoned tarot card reader, you’re well-versed in the history and symbolism behind tarot card art, but you don’t need to be an expert to use a single card to unlock a new creative idea.

Each person’s relationship with a tarot card or tarot deck is, like their relationship with anything else, deeply personal. There’s a lot to be gained by simply pulling a card and intuiting a meaning based on your own connection with the artwork, no matter what the traditional meaning of the card might be.

How to do it: Shuffle your tarot deck. If you typically meditate on cards before pulling, do so. Fan the tarot cards out in front of you, and hold your hand so that it’s about a foot above the spread. Slowly move your hand back and forth over the cards until you feel one pulling you. Reflect on the card. What is the name of the card? What does the artwork look like? What’s going on in the scene? Identify the characters, emotions, and symbolism that stick out to you. Challenge yourself to incorporate the top three things that stick out to you into your next project.

a painter works in an outdoor studio
Finding ways to translate tarot spreads into different mediums is an effective way to get yourself into a creative mindset and out of a creative funk.

Creative Block Buster #2: Try a Full Tarot Spread

Whether you’re conveying a story through words, music, or paint, incorporating additional layers of detail can create depth that draws your audience into your art. If a one-card tarot reading doesn’t give you enough to work with, a full tarot spread might be the way to go. Your spread can be as simple or as complex as you like.

How to do it: Once again, shuffle your tarot card or prepare it however you choose. Choose cards for your chosen spread, and analyze the cards and their relationship to one another. Consider these tarot spread ideas:

  • Traditional past/present/future spread to define a basic plot, character backstory, emotional arc for your song, or background/midground/foreground for your drawing
  • Combine tarot cards with another creative tool like the plot embryo --  pull a card for each phase in the plot of your story
  • Do a tarot card reading for a character in your story or figure in your painting

Creative Block Buster #3: Define Your Project with Tarot Cards

Sometimes we’re struck with inspiration. Sometimes inspiration comes from messing around with a guitar or scraps leftover from another project. Sometimes inspiration is a little harder to come by. If you don’t have any grounding feature of your project figured out but still know you want to do something, this strategy is for you. Leave it up to the luck of the draw, and then work with what the cards give you. Even if it doesn’t work out as-is, hopefully the combination of different ideas sparks some more usable ideas of your own.

How to do it: What information do you need to define to plan out your project? Write everything out. Whether you need to choose an emotional tone for the piece, imagine a compelling main character, or even choose the key for your music, list it out. Pull a card for each one, and get creative with interpreting the results.

a writer working through a creative block by drawing at her desk
Creative projects are hard work. Using tarot cards to define your projects is an easy way to get working on something again.

Creative Block Buster #4: Cross-Train Your Creativity

Runners might go on bike rides to train for marathons. Dancers might lift weights when they aren’t in the studio. Similarly, trying out different mediums can give you new ideas when you’re in a creative rut. Luckily, tarot cards can serve as inspiration for artists of any medium, so they’re particularly helpful here.

How to do it: Choose a new medium -- if you’re a writer, you might try drawing. If you’re a sculptor, you might try writing a poem. See if it sparks anything. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Try to recreate the artwork of the tarot card
  • Write a one page story about the main figure in your tarot card
  • Gather some of the items shown in the card and create a found object sculpture
  • Journal about your reaction to the card or spread’s imagery
  • Create an entirely new image for the card

Creative Block Buster #5: Inspire Your Creative Vision

Vision boards and project playlists are popular tools for all sorts of creators. If you’re not sure what you should be vision boarding, choosing a tarot card can be a helpful place to start.

How to do it: Shuffle your tarot deck, and prepare it however you wish. Pull a card, and use it as the inspiration for a vision board or playlist. How many songs can you put together that remind you of The Lovers? How many pins of rooms and nature can you find on Pinterest that give off Empress vibes?

girl with a pink guitar singing after getting through a creative block
Tarot cards can help you beat a creative block and get back to doing what you do best -- creating.

Creative blocks stink, but luckily they don’t last forever. Next time you’re feeling uninspired, consider picking up a deck of cool tarot cards to get your creative project back on track. Good luck, and happy creating!

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Melissa Pallotti

Melissa is a professional writer, designer, and web developer based in Pittsburgh, PA.
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