Review originally published at D*I*Y Planner.
Tarot for Writers
I have a tarot love affair going beyond the metaphysical. I use the cards for more than divination: journaling with the cards and involving them in my creative writing, for example. In 2006, I wrote about how tarot can help generate story ideas. Rkfoster also wrote about tarot and paper-based planning. I consistently tell people that the cards are an excellent writer’s companion. The pictures speak to the imagination, the cards weave stories when set side by side in a reading. In addition, the symbolism just begs to be written about in a narrative form. I’ve always wanted to write a book on tarot–one that goes into detail on using the cards for creative inspiration. However, Corrine Kenner beat me to it. Her Tarot for Writers demystifies tarot and shows writers how to use a deck in fueling their creativity and writing practice. Tarot for Writers is jam packed with techniques, writing samples, and reference sections on both the meanings and symbols found in tarot.
The book has three main sections. Part one gives you the low-down on what tarot cards are, their history, and how to use them. Kenner introduces tarot in a way that doesn’t confuse or scare people who have never worked with a deck before. Part two gets to the fun stuff. These seven chapters discuss prompts, games, spreads and general information on applying the tarot to every aspect of the writing craft from plot to characters to setting and more. There’s even a chapter on using a tarot deck as your own Writing Coach. Part three takes you on a card-by-card tour of what each card means, its literary connections and archetypes, and gives a list of prompts to kickstart the muse. Finally, Kenner ends with a glossary of tarot terms and symbolism–which for me was a nice touch. I tend to use a lot of symbolism in my own work and I can see myself using the symbolism glossary as a handy reference guide.
What I liked: This book looks at tarot completely from a writer’s perspective. I love that it assumes the reader knows nothing about tarot and it tells you only the pertinent parts that relate to using it as a tool with your works. Kenner skips over the metaphysical background that turns many people from tapping into the creative and brainstorming power. Part Two gives an overwhelming (in a good way) package of exercises, spreads and ideas. There are many exercises to get your creative muse involved; it’s fun to pick and choose what to try. I also love the Writing Coach chapter. While I’ve used the cards to ask questions relating directly to my plot and characters, I’ve never really thought about asking it if the work I’m revising is going well or what I should be working on next. In the “Writer’s Guide to Tarot Cards” section, I liked how Kenner kept the focus on writing when discussing each card: integrating writing archetypes and suggesting prompts to further write about.
What I didn’t like: For me, the first third contains the “meat”. These are the chapters that give the techniques and spreads and all the other tips and tricks on integrating tarot with a writing practice. The last two-thirds of the book gave “just another set of tarot-based meanings” to apply to the cards. I understand why Kenner included this section in the book. These definitions are useful in providing people new to tarot with individual card meanings. But, for me, these meanings didn’t provide anything new. I’ve learned much of what she has in these sections from working with the cards in my own studies. Therefore, I felt like Part Three padded the book and took away from the primary focus of showing how to use the cards with writing.
Bottom Line: Despite my nitpicks, I think Tarot for Writers does exactly what it sets out to do. Corrine Kenner does an excellent job in teaching tarot and exciting writers to experiment with a tarot deck. Get this book if you’re a writer curious about the tarot and how it can help with your writing. If you’re a tarot enthusiast seeking new ways to expand your tarot knowledge you’ll want to add this to your library. And after you read it, break out your deck and start playing—let your deck take your creative writing to new realms.