Starring Alec Baldwin (North) Hugh Jackman (E. Aster Bunnymund), Isla Fisher (Tooth) and Chris Pine (Jack Frost), the Guardians of childhood battle the evil Pitch (Jude Law) to restore hope, joy and optimism to the world.
Santa as a Russian dude with Naughty and Nice tats on each arm? Love it!
The upright of this image is a reversal of Tarot's Hanged Man. In the caption, a reporter says to a prospective suicide: "Say, old chap, if you want to get into the evening paper you'd better hurry." From Life magazine, 1906.
Writers, painters, fashion designers, bloggers, hair stylists, chefs, illustrators, jewelry makers…their life and work inspires me.
Yet, even among the most talented and productive, a bubble of unease and discontent often rises to the surface. Troubling bubbles containing questions like:
How do I come up with ideas?
How do I keep things fresh?
How can I write about a topic in new, interesting ways?
How can I stay inspired?
How can I break out of a creative rut?
Just this week, I had yet another brilliant, creative friend ask me to blog on such topics.
So, without further ado, here are several of twelve ways to break out of a creative rut (especially if you’re a writer):
1. Describe What You See.
It seems almost too simple…but have you tried it? Wherever you are, STOP. Get out your notebook and pen (you do carry them with you, right?), and begin writing down what you see. (If you’re not old-school like I am, yes, by all means, use your glowing box to jot down your impressions). Describe what you smell, what you hear, what you feel. Take it all in, capturing your experience with words. Don’t censor, don’t judge and DON’T stop until you’ve written for at least 15 minutes.
2. Make a Magazine Collage.
I could write an entire blog post on what you can do with old magazines. For now, we’ll focus on an image collage. Flip through the magazine, scissors in hand (wait, put those down while flipping…safety first!), and choose images that intrigue, inspire or delight you. Heck, maybe even pick a picture or two that ticks you off. Cut them out. On a piece of sturdy paper like poster board, tape or glue those images. Notice if themes seem to jump out to you—ideas that you can develop into a story or poem.
Alternatively, you can start your collage with a theme already in mind, and then treasure hunt through the magazine for related images. Examples can include My Protagonist’s Life, What I Find Beautiful, Color Riot, How Alone Looks and so on. No magazines around? Try Pinterest, which is a virtual corkboard that you can use in the same way. (Click here to read my post How Writers Can Use Pinterest. To see all my Pinterest boards, some that I use for inspiration, click here.)
You can even make a Life Map by cutting out empowering, inspiring images and phrases encapsulating the creative life you desire.
3. Get a MagPo set.
What is MagPo? Why, it’s Magnetic Poetry! I’ve been using MagPo for over a decade and it’s SUPER fun…especially if you use the fridge for making poetry and stories. My husband eventually grew tired of having hundreds of tiles covering the refrigerator (and, no doubt, standing in front of it for many minutes creating word wizardry!), so I agreed to take them all off (le sigh).
However, I discovered a BETTER way to use MagPo, especially since it’s portable: cookie sheets. Yes, you read right. You can buy a cheapo cookie sheet from the dollar store and have a shiny new canvas for serious word painting. Best of all, you can carry it from room to room! (Or, if you have a sizable backpack or tote, from place to place!).
No worries if you don’t have a cookie sheet handy: you can arrange the words on a table top or other flat surface, and then write your creation down for posterity. And, really, no worries if you don't get a MagPo set ASAP because the creators allow you to make Magnetic Poems at their site!
The MagPo empire has expanded exponentially beyond the original kit and magnetic wall calendar. Below are but a few of the themed word kits you can get in MagPo.
I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of 12 Ways to Escape a Creative Rut. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll cover Mind Mapping, Throwing (Tarot) Cards, Eavesdropping and more!
Question: Are you in a creative rut now? What are you doing to help get you back on the road to artistic expression? What's worked for you in the past? I'd love to hear about your experience!
It's always exciting to discover Tarot referenced in fiction, isn't it?
Well guess what? An Appetite for Murder, the first book in the new Key West Food Critic Mystery series, features Tarot reading!
Penned by Roberta Isleib under the pseudonym Lucy Burdette, here's the scoop on this cozy culinary mystery:
Hayley Snow's life always revolved around food. But when she applies to be a food critic for a Key West style magazine, she discovers that her new boss would be Kristen Faulkner-the woman Hayley caught in bed with her boyfriend! Hayley thinks things are as bad as they can get-until the police pull her in as a suspect in Kristen's murder. Kristen was killed by a poisoned key lime pie. Now Hayley must find out who used meringue to murder before she takes all the blame.
I've read the first few pages of An Appetite for Murder, and it's an interesting, entertaining read. I can't wait to read the whole thing!
Roberta has also written the Advice Column Mystery series (I have them all!), as well as the Golf Lover's Mysteries.
Face it: There are times when we don't know what the hell we're doing.
When confusion strikes, this Diamond Clarity Spread may help. After all, I designed it the other day as I sat at my dining room table, hopelessly muddled about which creative project to work on next...
CARD 1: What do I need to know?
CARD 2: What must I embrace?
CARD 3. What must I avoid?
CARD 4: Where from here?
So next time you're like the bloke facing the buffet of seven cups, pull out this Diamond Clarity Spread and, well, get some clarity!
If you try this spread, do let me know how it works out for. Many have reported that it provides great insight during cloudy times....and I hope it does the same for you.
The Major Arcana of the Tarot, Trumps 1-21, are a lot like a movie script or novel plot.
The Majors are akin to “the point” of the story; that is, some type of life lesson that the character/s must confront or overcome in order to grow, change or evolve (or not). This confrontation may emerge as man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society or man vs. himself. Regardless, the central theme or “fight” that the character/s must deal with within the story connects to a life lesson and/or obstacle.
If we were to examine the movie Toy Story, we see the general theme of “What It Means to Belong”.
Buzz thinks he’s a star ranger, protecting the universe from an evil Emperor Zurg. Much to his dismay, he realizes he is one of many Buzz Lightyears—a mere toy who happens to be the hottest flavor of the month. He’s struggling with the “what” of personal identity and meaning.
Same with Woody the cowboy. Once a beloved and favorite toy of Andy’s, old school Woody has been kicked to the wayside in favor of newer, shinier playthings (like Buzz). Where is Woody’s place now? You can think of the Majors, like a central plot, as asking and answering the big WHAT of life.
The 52 Minor Arcana of the Tarot, Aces-Ten of the four minor suits (Wands, Cups, Swords and Coins) are like the scenes where “the point”—or the overreaching life lesson or theme plays out.
Keeping with Toy Story, the toys of Andy’s room must navigate the shift of who’s “the favorite”—and who may well end up in a yard sale or forgotten in the attic.
The Minors, then, would be like Andy’s room, Pizza Planet, the living room where recon takes place and so. These backdrops are where the major questions of loyalty, belonging and meaning play out. The Minors, then, ask and answer the questions of WHERE. That is, where in your life the “big questions” are being played out.
Lastly, we have the 16 Court Cards of the Tarot (often called Page, Knight, Queen and Kings). These “face cards” are the characters themselves (their personality or even how they appear)…or how a character approaches (or wrestles with) the “big questions” of the story.
Buzz is a lot like the Knight of Swords. He’s on a mission to destroy Zurg, and information or arguments to the contrary only make him mad. When he realizes he’s “just” a toy, that sharp sword is turned on himself in the form of self-doubt.
Woody is a lot like the Knight of Coins. He’s “analog”—a toy from the era of pull strings and scratchy recorded voices. He wants to keep things as they are…and even uses the green army men—as retro and non-mechanical as you can get—to spy during the Christmas gift unwrapping.
The Court Cards, like characters, answer the questions of WHO and HOW.
A Tarot reading? Well, they tend to ask, and try to answer, the WHY of it all.
Majors (Fool to The World) = Script; Story; Plot; “The Point”. Answers WHAT
Minors (Aces-Tens) = Setting; Scene; Answers WHERE
Court Cards (Pages-Kings) = Character; Personality; Approach. Answers WHO and HOW
Tarot Readings: Where we try to figure the WHY of it all.
So what do you think, dear reader? Do you agree with this assessment? If not, how would you "cast" the cards of Tarot?
For fun, think of your favorite movie, book or story...and figure out the What, Where, Who and How using Tarot cards. Would love to hear what you come up with!
“Together, these cards reveal a path forward. Should you stay in your fallout shelter until the last of your supplies are depleted? Flee to one of the government-sponsored refugee camps? Proceed directly to the Gunz-R-Us? Consult the Zombie Tarot to determine the best course of action. These cards can’t predict the future, but they can offer you much-needed perspective on a situation. Pay attention to your intuition, listen to your instincts, and always, always keep the shotgun loaded.” – From the companion booklet
From rotting corpses to severed heads, cannibalistic children to valiant humans fighting for survival, the Zombie Tarot serves up heaping doses of both brawn AND braaaainnnnsss for the twisted seeker.
And by brains, I don’t (just) mean the kind served fresh out of the cranium: this deck, conceived by Stacey Graham and illustrated by Headcase Design (Paul Kepple and Ralph Geroni), lurches with wit and shambles with pure entertainment.
But make no mistake: the Zombie Tarot reads clear and sharp for those used to reading the cards. Yes, it’s an actual workhorse deck! (And not just the “work” of escaping limb-eaters or trying to divine your escape route…)
Brought to you buy the same publishers who created the domestically awesome Housewives Tarot (Quirk Books), the Zombie Tarot is every bit as funny, but—dare I say it—is even MORE brilliant!
Framed by what looks like yellowed, old-fashioned newsprint, each card of morbid hilarity offers traditional names for the Major Arcana, while the Minor Arcana finds expression through Cups, Swords, Wands and Hazards (Coins). The Court Cards are Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings (love that rifle-toting Queen of Swords grandma luring zombies with a well-heeled ankle smack-dab in the middle of a bear trap!).
The 96-page companion booklet offers five spreads, as well as three keywords and brief interpretation for each card (the “ads” in the back are too funny!). Labeled “Prediction and Protection”, the sturdy Zombie Tarot container will serve you well…since it doubles for a box of shells!
Here are a few card descriptions to give you flavor of this fantastic flesh-fest:
Justice:Impartiality*Fairness*Equality – “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” takes on an entirely new meaning in the midst of a human-zombie war. Thankfully you can count on Justice to right the wrongs, restore harmony, and offer a karmic slap to the back of the head to those who deserve it. Fight the good fight—don’t be on the other end of that slap.
Six of Cups: Nostalgia*Memories*Old Flames – Ahh, the carefree days of childhood! No zombie plagues, no hiding in abandoned houses, and your best friend was always at your side. Well, there’s good news: someone from your past may soon arrive for a visit. Just don’t mistake a friendly kiss on the cheek for a zombie gnawing off your face.
Eight of Wands:Travel*Expansion*On the Move – Faster than you can say…well, most anything, since you’ve lost your tongue, you’ve been presented with a new opportunity. Travel is imminent, so choose a path to stagger along and enjoy the occasional human morsel as you go. If you take charge, others will follow your lead. Trust your inner zombie and roll with it. Good news is coming. Brace yourself for awesome.
While the companion book is whip-smart, the images, too, show depth of Tarot knowledge. The Queen of Swords is often known as the “silver-haired widow card”, so it’s no surprise that our gun-wielding granny waits patiently in her green armchair. The 4 of Hazards, usually referred to as the “miser card”, shows a smug human surrounded by food staples—fingers in his ears to drown out the cries of his fellow survivors outside, desperate for sustenance.
Justice’s scales carry a brain on one side and a heart on the other, the balance decidedly in favor of the mind (as Justice usually tips). The zombie gal on the 8 of Wands chases her prey on roller skates, a clever nod to the “speed” of this card. Temperance shows its alchemical roots with a bloody microscope slide and syringe. And the 3 of Swords? Let’s just say this card brings new meaning to “eat your heart out”….
Every Tarot lover must have the Zombie Tarot, pure and simple. It satisfies on every level: artistic, esoteric and divinatory. Yes, it’s a riot and yes, it’s gross—but it’s a solid reading deck for those familiar with the cards. Even if you’re clueless about the Tarot but love zombies, this is one purchase that should be a no brainnnnnn-er.