Look ahead, writers, and make a plan.

Story Mystic is a new column for writers. Each month I will draw five cards focused on the art of writing. What do the cards have in store for us? What writing challenges will the next month bring? Let’s find out!

A general card for writers right nowTwo of Swords

Ah, crossed swords and a blindfold. You are at an impasse, and you need to do some soul-searching to figure out why and what the next steps may be to resolve this problem. The swords in this card are balanced, suggesting that you have many viable options in front of you right now. Each option seems correct, so you are stuck and don’t know which path to take. 

This month, you might be struggling with your writing a bit. Swords represent logic, and this can often come into contrast with your emotional needs and desires. It may be that your writing is not flowing, and this is leaving you frustrated. The blindfold in this card shows that you may not be sure that you have all the information that you need. 

The Two of Swords signals that action is needed. You must take stock of your writing, your routines and the stories you are crafting, and be self-critical. What is working, and what isn’t? Have you been hesitating for any reason? Get in touch with your emotions and look inward. Flip a coin to help yourself decide between two options (your immediate relief or disappointment will help you uncover your true emotions). Meditate on the problem. 

The right path forward is in front of you. You just need to trust your instincts. 

A card for your plotKing of Wands, reversed

The King of Wands holds power is his hands—a staff of power, a lion held captive, salamanders at his feet. This is all fire, new life, and boldness personified. He signifies being in command of your creativity and being filled with inspiration.

But the King of Wands has shown up reversed, which signals a shift in meaning. With regard to your plot, do not charge ahead blindly, doing whatever creative thing you dream up. You may be able to think of a thousand plot twists and convoluted structures to make your story feel more exciting, but those things will not always been the right choice. Do not reorder all the chapters of your story impulsively. Do not start adding dream sequences or time travel on a whim. If a writing partner or editor says that something is confusing, don’t ignore them. When you read a new book that inspires you, don’t throw aside everything else you have been creating to rewrite your own story. 

My biggest recommendation is to make a list. Keep a notepad on your desk, and fill it with your new, bold ideas as they come. Keep writing what you had planned, and don’t shake things up right now. As you move through the month, look back to your list and consider your big, new ideas. Do they still inspire you? If so, innovate away! But you will likely find that a lot of the ideas that seemed so great in the moment have since paled, and your original path through the story was the best one after all. 

A card for your charactersThe Moon, reversed

This card has the moon high in the sky, full and shining. It is balanced above large towers of rock. Beneath, a dog and a wolf turn their faces up and howl. This is a card of mystery and dreaming, and not always the pleasant kind. This is the card of false illusions and fever dreams, and nightmares, too. 

This card has taken the reversed position, signaling that you may not be entirely clear about your character’s intentions and motivations. Something about them is clouded to you, and still needs working out. This may be hindering your process through the story and making it feel like the characters are fighting you. 

Look your characters right in the eye. Get some distance from them and examine them closely. Track the patterns of their behavior in the story. Consult with a writing partner to work out their motivations. Write down everything you know about them, or make a timeline. Dust off your plotting and planning, and look at your characters squarely. The solution is there, if only you can clear away the illusions cloud your mind’s eye. 

A card for unforeseen circumstancesAce of Pentacles, reversed

This card shows a beautiful coin marked with a pentacle, being held up high. Surrounding this is a bounty of lush flowers blooming. This is the card of new opportunities and the first seeds of abundance. This card says that new and surprising things happen often, and one of those things may be coming for you!

This card has come in a reversed position, so these new opportunities may be hidden at first. Unforeseen circumstances may seem like setbacks at first. You may be unpleasantly surprised, or pulled away from your writing. Reversed, this card shows us that something is coming that you have not planned for. You will have to be patient with yourself and wait it out. With determination, the bountiful reward will come. Just give it time. 

A card for the wider worldKnight of Pentacles

The Knight of Pentacles has come! They carry a coin in their hand, seated upon a tall and powerful horse. They do not look ahead to what lies ahead, but down at the coin instead. They are thinking and considering what comes next. They take stock of their plans and what they know of the road ahead. When they spur their horse forward, they will be ready for anything. 

The Knight of Pentacles here suggests that you will need to have a clear plan of your path forward to make the progress you dream of. You might be able to do things impulsively, of course, but a plan of action will serve you well. This may mean that you should make a list of your priorities, including steps to get them done. You are being called upon to sit down and commit to the hard work that goes into crafting your story—every single chapter, sentence, and word of it. Commit, make a plan, and then go for it. 

Ann Langley writes speculative fiction and wild poetry, and can be found on twitter @alangleyyy for general chatting and hanging out purposes. She used the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot Deck for this reading, which can be found here.