How to Use the Tarot and Mind Mapping to Plan Your Writing

Today June 19 I have a guest post on Danny Iny’s Firepole Marketing Blog. I always plan blog posts on paper first so that I don’t miss any key points out and also because I use mind mapping for planning and prefer to do that with old fashioned paper and pen!

I mention in the post, which you can read here, that I used an additional and less conventional technique to assist me with planning – the Tarot. I often do this if I need some extra insight for an article or blogpost, I even use it to help me plan my workload.

I thought you would like to see both parts of this planning method so you can use it, if it appeals, for your own writing.

The Plan

First of all I’ll share Danny’s suggestion for planning an effective blogpost which includes the following stages:

  • a good hook
  • stating the problem
  • the root of the problem
  • discussing solutions
  • an engagement building question.

For my plan I first picked a Tarot card for each of the stages above and then used those to write my mind map.

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You can see my actual notes and mind map in the photos above. I was going to rewrite them to make it clearer but then I thought, no – be authentic! So here are the actual notes, dodgy handwriting, coffee stains and all, so you can see that it’s quite genuine! Because the content isn’t really important, it’s to show you the technique.

The Cards I Chose 

I did think it might be helpful to discuss the cards I pulled for each of the stages though, so here they are:

Hook: Six of Coins. – This card shows a man handing out money to lots of different people so everyone gets their share. He has more than enough to hand out.

For my Renaissance Genius or Jack of All Trades post it gives me my hook. If you have lots of different ideas to offer people can you give everyone what they want? What happens to the others if you decide to give to just one? (Or laser focus?)

Problem: Two of Swords. This card shows a woman sitting on a rock with her back to the ocean. She has a sword across each shoulder and is blindfolded and unable to move. It indicates analysis paralysis, an inability to choose one thing over another. It also indicates a choice between two things.

For my post, here is the problem – the dilemma between going laser niche or multi niche and how not doing so can lead to inaction.

Root of the Problem: Hierophant. This card is also known as the Pope and shows a religious leader in all his regalia. It typifies conventional beliefs and behaviour, following rules and regulations.

In my post the root of the problem is that the Internet in marketing terms is quite conventional an has its own rules. (Add a list of the “rules”.)

Solution: Five of Coins. This card shows someone in difficult circumstances who has called on for help. Money is not the solution here, the help needs to go deeper than that. There is more than one person in need in the picture.

For my post the solution lies in not focussing on financial rewards and also in asking unashamedly for help (from the readers of the blog.) Maybe there are others in the same boat?

Implementing the Solution: King of Wands. The king of communication, this card shows someone who takes effective action and maybe stirs things up a bit.

For my post, I am implementing the solution and taking action by writing about the problem, asking for help and seeing what happens.

Engagement Building Question: Queen of Swords. In this card a solitary woman is holding a sword in one hand while the other hand is almost being held out for help. The Queen is strong and fearless but she does feel isolated at times.

In the engagement building question ask for help and also mention the feeling of being alone.

Once I had made my notes based on the cards, I then quickly wrote the article. It was very easy and seemed to write itself!

You can easily use this technique for any article that you have to write. Leave a comment below about what you think of these techniques and how you get on.




Ten Ways to Get in a Good Mood!

 Having just come back from quite a difficult trip to the UK I find myself tetchy and  too hot as it's 33 degrees C here in la bella Italia!

 It's all too easy to get into a spiral of negative thinking and general grouchiness. So if you are feeling the same then here are some tips to help you out of the Slough of Despond!

1 Be Grateful. It sounds trite and simplistic, but it's been scientifically proven that regularly practising gratitude really works on all kinds of things including improved heart function and alertness. Take a look at a hugely popular site Three Beautiful Things and do likewise.

2 Have a Laugh. Personally I watch Youtube videos of Michael McIntyre, but the blog Pitching the World also has me crying with laughter. Read it from the very beginning to get the full experience. Ostensibly it's about a journalist who decides to pitch to all the magazines in the Artists and Writers Yearbook, but that isn't even the half of it… 

3 Finish Something. A tapestry,  a shed, a novel. If it's undone, then complete it. You'll feel absurdly proud of yourself.

4 Walk. Yes, take your sorry self out into the great wilderness and walk around a bit. Exercise is very cheering.

5 Sing. Find some songs that take you back or lift you up and then sing your little heart out. Oh yeah!

6 Shop at Your House. This is weird but very satisfying. When you get the urge to go out and buy something to cheer yourself up, stop.  Mindless purchases are not the answer you know! Why not try 'shopping' for it in your own attic, garage or  cellar? A rummage through your old stuff is a great mood changer.

7 Change something. Paint a room or cover a sofa. Add accessories from your 'shop' above!

8 Get Inspired. There are some really uplifting videos on Youtube or Ted Talks to shake you out of the blackest of moods. Try this one. No Arms, No Legs, No Worries. Or this one: Looking Past Limits.

9 Learn Something New. But not if involves buying a lot of stuff. (I'm on a bit of an 'Enough' kick this week as you can see!) Learning is part of our DNA and also comes in useful when conversation flags at parties.  Try  'Did you know I can find water with coathangers?' as an opening line.

10 Write. It has to be there on the list, doesn't it? You'll feel so much better when you have stopped worrying and spent a minute, an hour or a day creating a poem or a journal, a story or an article. Words equal immortality after all!


If you would like me to write for you, then why not CONTACT ME today?




Why the Internet is Super Cool

Ever since my first Internet download back in the nineties on dial-up in our house in Umbria (time taken: 3 hours, result: half a photo of a Hurricane Spitfire), I have been totally hooked on the Internet. Well, not so much the Internet per se but rather what it offers, particularly for writers and researchers. Let me illustrate this with a little story that happened on Sunday. Look out for all the Internet references!

I love metal detecting. I find it relaxes me and switches off my all-too-busy left brain after a few hours at the computer. I have a Garrett Ace 150 and often go on a useful site I found on the net: Gary’s metal detecting to pick up tips.

As our house is a stone’s throw (if you have Popeye-like arms) from a rare Etruscan altar I am convinced that one day I will unearth a valuable Etruscan artefact, but so far I have had to content myself with a lot of nails, assorted tractor parts, a horseshoe and an 1861 coin. (Which is quite nice as it is the date of Italian unification and I found it at the start of 2011 – it is Italy’s 150th birthday this year!)

I discovered by looking online at the historic land registry  that the house’s land used to be called La Vigna (The Vineyard) and so I always concentrate my search around the area I imagine these people worked, vividly visualising them dropping things for me to find!

On Sunday I got the sound for jewellery on the detector and so, surrounded by three patient dogs all sitting looking at the hole I was digging, I found a little medallion covered with soil. I raced back to the house and cleaned it up with a toothbrush in best Time Team style and could just about make out a Madonna on one side and a figure on the other.

The mysterious medallion I took a digital photo and uploaded it then used photo enhancing software to enlarge it. I printed it out but I still couldn’t read the reverse of the medallion. I was pretty sure it said Giuseppe something. I trawled the net using any combination of Italian terms I could think of: medaglie devozionale, Madonna e Giuseppe (yep – Mary and Joseph, not too successful that one!) and finally chanced upon a forum for Italian numismatists, La I quickly registered, posted my question and a photo and then while I was waiting, took another look at the blown up photo. I was fairly sure it said LABR- something after the Giuseppe bit  so Googled that and came up with San Benedetto Giuseppe Labre, the nomad saint. I read all the references to him, including his saint day, when he was canonised and a map of his birthplace.

I logged back in to my numismatists site to find a kind soul had answered my question. He confirmed that it was indeed San Benedetto Giuseppe Labre, that the medallion dated from 1880-1900 and was copper or brass. Perfetto!

I danced into the living room with the medallion, my bits of paper, photo and information and regaled Alan with the story. ‘Remember the Spitfire?’ he said.

‘God, yes, the Spitfire!’ I replied. ‘Can you imagine how long it would have taken me back in pre Internet days to find all this out? Instead of just a morning? The Internet is so fab.’ I zoomed out of the room again and went back to my metal detecting. And all the while I was thinking I wonder who wore this, I wonder who dropped it? And never in a million years would they ever have imagined that over a century later I would be blogging about it.

Don’t you just love the Internet?


6 Tips For Online Writing

Online writing - your world wide audience

A Map of the Internet – Your Potential Audience

I do a lot of my writing online – blogs, websites, ezines and over the years I’ve been doing it, I’ve learned a few things I’d like to pass on.


Online writers, particularly bloggers – know titles are important, and that a few tweaks can make a big difference. The following are good things to put in a blog title:

  • numbers written as numbers – e.g 10 Ways to Make a Million as a Writer (I wish!)
  • A list – linked to numbers (above) – e.g. The 5 Best Books I’ve Read This Year
  • Stating – to quote Basil Fawlty – ‘the bleeding obvious’! If your article is about online writing then call it that. It may not demonstrate your whizzy skills as a wordsmith par excellence but Google will love you.
  • ‘Hot’ words and phrases like: secret, new, how to, you, discover
  • Use Capitals for Each Word – I know, I know, it goes against the grain. But this is For Your Own Good!


Online writing needs white space. Your poor visitor can’t concentrate on densely written text.


Today’s web visitors (with the exception of your own good self, of course) have the concentration span of a gnat – they want it fast, and they want it bite-sized. Leave the magnum opus in the drawer.


Online writers use short sentences. That’s it. Sad, I know, but there you are. 


If you can jazz your words up with a picture or a video, Google will love you even more. If you can label your image with a phrase that has some keywords in it – that is better than D_photo_ 1345.jpeg


Try to keep the text complete in your viewer’s browser so they don’t have the tedious and exhausting  job of scrolling down. That usually means around 400 words. I know, I haven’t managed it with this!