The Major Arcana of the tarot deck unfold as 22 steps toward creative mastery. I cover all of them and more in my tarot workshop, so tonight I want to focus on just the first few steps.
The Fool: Open to inspiration, practicing judgment free awareness, following his own instincts. That’s every writer who’s open to new ideas, willing to let them rumble around a bit before judging them, and pays attention to what sparks her attention and grabs her interest.
The Magician: The Magician makes choices, envisions a finished work. I want to write a novel…or a poem. Elizabeth George writes in “Write Away” that one book was “her locked-room” mystery and others were her assault on other intriguing writing problems. T.S. Eliot would look at a poetic form and wonder what he had to say that fit that particular form. Sometimes I just have a sentence in my head and know I want to write that story. (One of my short stories developed around this sentence: “She was my best friend from kindergarten until she left town with my husband.”)
The High Priestess: Her gift is memory, and she brings up the experiences and memories that shape a unique story in our heads (even if the original inspiration isn’t unique.)
The Empress: She’s pregnant, an earth goddess, the exemplar of creativity, and what does she do? She rearranges the materials the High Priestess provides to fulfill the choice of The Magician. She represents our own creative mind sifting and shifting material to make it as close as possible to the work we originally chose to write.
The Emperor: He’s always facing his Empress. He organizes and supervises her fruits. His gift is sight…and of course he’s each of us as we polish our work, look for errors, rewrite and revise before we send work out in the world.
We could go a step further and let the Hierophant teach us to follow our own inner voice as we plan marketing and social media and all the ways we connect our work with the world.
But this is a good process. It’s closely related to the four ways we use our own minds as writers, and it’s a good starting plan for almost any creative (human) project.
Pick a color. It’ll reflect some writer’s mood, story, character insight.
Or…shamelessly…read my blog at Savvy Authors and pick the colors that highlight your story’s themes, show your character’s issues, touch your reading in subtle and subconsious ways. To visit the blog “What Color Is Your Story?”, click here.
I just learned about this site and rushed right over to share it with all of you.
The Writer’s Guide to Government Information is a FREE treasure trove of links to government sites that will give you free (and copyright-free) information to help you research your writing projects.
Everyone needs a gatekeeper. (And no one wants one, of course. )
Gatekeepers look like villains in any good hero’s journey stories, but what they teach the hero makes the final triumph possible. Even Luke didn’t love Yoda on first sight.
And yet–it’s the gatekeepers in our lives we remember and cherish. I sent a copy of my first book of poems to the English teacher who drove me mad with picky language details in high school. Neale Copple and Bill Hall set high standards for journalism students at the University of Nebraska–and taught us how to meet those standards; they were my yodas. So were Geneva Klopping, high school math teacher in Red Oak, Iowa, and a geography professor at Augustana College’s regional studies programs.
Other gatekeepers–not such fond memories. But they put me through training I didn’t know I needed and made the best parts of my life possible.
As writers, we need gatekeepers, too. In the old publishing world, publishers provided the editors, publicists, and coddling we needed. In today’s world, we have to find our own gatekeepers. We need editors or critique groups to lead us through the hard revision work editors used to do for authors–at least for the few who actually got published in those days. We need publicists or coaches to help develop our individualized strategic business plans and find ways to implement them without a huge budget. We need coddling–and challenging–from people who care about our vision, whether they’re life coaches or mentors or fellow writers.
If you’re still looking for great gatekeepers, please join me on August 5 for a webinar and Q and A session on gatekeepers. It’s free and the full details are in my events calendar on this website.
Who are the great gatekeepers in your own life–past or present–and who did they challenge you to become?
I know. Writing–or whatever vision powers your life–feels like serious business. Some of you may even be offended when I call it a game. But creativity thrives on the spirit of play, and people who take a creative and playful approach to their lives play better, reach mastery sooner, and have better results (for less effort).
I’ve never forgotten a client who went from scratching for money to significant wealth. It was a dramatic and sudden change, and I met her at her office to ask what had happened. First, she committed to profits (for the sake of her children) and then she figured out that money’s just a game. After that, she took more time off and had more fun (along with a lot more money).
If you love your work, you probably do commit to excellence–and do you also commit to profitability? (We don’t all want the same profits; fame appeals to one writer and dollars to another and still another just wants to change the world.) Whatever valuable results you really want should be part of the game plan.
Can I–or any coach–guarantee you’ll get everything you want? Of course not.
But I can guarantee you won’t get the results you want if you sacrifice them without a whimper.
There are all these rumors about how you can’t make money doing whatever you love. But I met T.S. Eliot when he was a guest poet at Grinnell College, and I can verify that his tweeds weren’t cheap or badly tailored.
So here are three simple steps you can take to be sure your game is big enough:
1. Give it a name, a jazzy, juicy name. Take time to find the words that excite you every time you think about them.
2. Write out a brief description of what success in your chosen field means to you…the craft, the art, the people (readers) you’ll serve, and the rewards you’ll claim. Keep a copy handy and revise it every six months as your confidence in your game grows.
3. Choose three recurring actions that will move you toward that big game. If you’re a writer, it might be writing 20 minutes a day or 2 hours on Saturday. If you’re a real estate broker, it might be cold calls. Whatever it is, it should be something you commit to doing regularly. Eventually, some actions will no longer be useful, or you’ll learn about new methods that make them unnecessary. If you drop one, replace it with another.
And if you’d like a little help with your strategic planning, I’m offering free exploratory coaching sessions. Just click on the yellow “Schedule Session” button to schedule 45 minutes with me, working on your master plan and your big game.