A New Year’s Writing Exercise

Happy New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day (wherever you’re reading this from)! Today/tonight I have a writing exercise for you guys to try, if you’d like. And if you write, of course.

Back in 2015 I started collecting Tarot decks, so come New Year’s Eve 2015 I decided to put them to use and start a new tradition where I do a New Year’s Reading every year before going to sleep on NYE. I pull one card for each month, focusing on the question, “What’s in store for me this January? February? March?” and so on. Then, after I’ve drawn a card for each month, I draw one final card to get a sense of how the overall year will be.

It’s a lot of fun, and funnily enough, pretty accurate. The deck predicted a lot of travel for me around summertime, and I went to Florida, Scotland, Kingston (NY), and on a couple hiking adventures over the summer of 2016. It also predicted I would branch out and meet a lot of new people, and that it would be a good year for me to grow professionally. I did in fact meet plenty of new friends (and new family members!), and I finished graduate school and now feel prepared to enter the field of Library Science officially.

Anyway, I digress.

Between this new tradition and a book I read back in 2015 called Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner, I got a fun idea for this writing exercise!

Many writers make the New Year Resolution to write more. Sometimes that’s not always easy to achieve. For some of us — myself included — it’s been a long time since we’ve really committed to writing.

So maybe some of us could use this exercise to get back on track. Maybe you’re between projects and looking for new ideas. Maybe you’re stuck on a WIP and need to spice up the plot a little before you can feel confident moving forward.

Whatever the case, I want you to do a quick Tarot reading for a protagonist or antagonist. You can use a deck online, or one of your own. (There are plenty of free randomly-generated decks on the Internet; just do a quick Google search!) Then, no matter which type of character you’re doing a reading for, ask some or all of the following questions:

  1. What is this character’s backstory?
  2. Where is this character at right now?
  3. What is in store for this character’s near future?

Which questions you do or don’t ask depends on where you’re at in the story of course: The beginning, the middle, or the close to the end. You can also feel free to add any other questions you might have — for example, “What’s in store ROMANTICALLY for this character?” or “How is this character handling/going to handle this specific situation?” or “How did this character react to this event in their past?”

A fun one I’d like to try out with my next story is, “Which archetype best suits this character?” Tarot decks are divided between the Major and Minor Arcana, and the Major Arcana are popular archetypes such as The Hermit or The Devil. This particular question would require a deck where you can separate the Major and Minor Aracana, which may not be possible with an online deck. I’m not sure, but if you find one where that’s possible, feel free to share the link in the comments below! Or you could still ask the deck which card in general best applies to your character, because the Minor Arcana can be applied to people’s personalities as easily as the Major Arcana.

Avoid asking yes or no questions. Tarot cards are meant to be interpreted and applied to the inquirer’s life (in this case, your character’s), not give you a solid, set-in-stone answer. Technically if you’re reading cards for someone else, it is up to them to apply the interpretations to their own life, but since you assume the voice of your character(s) when you write them, then you can feel free to apply the interpretations as you see fit, and in the way you feel best improves your story.

And always be sure to draw Tarot cards with your left hand. ;p

There are plenty more exercises like this one in Kenner’s book mentioned above. I would highly recommend it if you’re looking for some fun character building activities to do. Most retailers have it, including Amazon.

Otherwise, you can do this writing exercise in your own notebook, or you can, as always, feel free to talk about it below in the comments.

Happy writing!


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