I’m obsessed with the creative process.

I love thinking about how I create, what works, what doesn’t, reading about other people’s creative processes, watching other people work–you name it.

The Aries Full Moon offers potent go-get-some energy that can help us kick off projects with a fiery focus, but sustaining this energy to completion can be tricky.

So today, I want to share something I’ve learned by paying close attention to when a creative project stalls, and toward the end, we’ll tie this in with the Emperor of the tarot, a card infused with Aries energy.

When you learn how to spot this in your own process, you can work with your creative energies more skillfully, dissolving blocks before they have a chance to completely derail your flow.

Witches Tarot

I first noticed these blocks while writing, but once I knew what to look for, I was spotting them in unfinished house-repair projects, abandoned health goals, and other stalled-out plans.

The first block is not having as much clarity as I think I do.

I’m sitting in front of my computer, fingers poised over the keyboard, and…nothing. Ten minutes later, still nada. All the while my antsiness is mounting, and I’m suddenly aware that the shower grout needs to be cleaned with a toothbrush immediately.

What’s happening is that I’ve set out with a too-vague notion of what it is I’m trying to write, and I don’t actually know what my next step is.

This is key: It’s not that I don’t know how to take the next step, which is what my ego believes; it’s that I don’t know what the next step is.

It’s easy to get caught in a loop of hopelessness…

…feeling like you suck and you’ll never figure out how to stop sucking, but really, your super-smart-problem-solving abilities simply don’t have enough to work with.

For instance, imagine sitting down to write with the following prompts. (And if you’re new to tarot, just pretend you’re a tarot pro.)

Prompt #1 Describe why tarot is useful.

Prompt #2 Outline three ways to incorporate tarot cards in your daily routine to improve decision making.

The first prompt is an ocean of wishy-washy whatever, and there are so many directions you could take it, chances are you’ll either feel locked up with overwhelm in front of a blank screen, or your writing will follow a million rabbit holes and lose the point (and the reader) in the process.

Alice Tarot

But it’s easy to look at that first prompt and think, “I should be able to do this! Why isn’t this working, dammit??”

I ran into the same problem when I wanted to tear down our falling-apart deck and create a gravel patio. The project had so many moving parts that simply telling myself, “Build that gravel patio!” amounted to precisely zero forward movement.

But once I sat down and made a list of the actual steps I’d need to take, starting with, “Go outside and figure out which bit I need for my drill,” I was off and running, and now we have a lovely patio with a fire pit and a spot to feed the cute birdies.

Tip: If you’ve broken a larger project into smaller chunks and it’s still stalling, ask yourself if there are any unfulfilled prerequisites creating obstructions. For instance, if your first step is “Drill a hole to hang that picture,” but you don’t have a drill, get thee to the drill store, my friend!

All right, your turn.

If a project is stalling, check in: Do you actually know what you’re supposed to be doing right now?

Is the next step too vague? Narrow it down to a precise focus.

Is the next step too vast? Break it down into smaller chunks.

Is there a prerequisite that needs to be addressed?

The second block is knowing precisely what your next step is, but you really don’t want to do it.

For instance, maybe I’m writing a book and there’s a section of exercises that feels tedious to write. I know exactly what they are and how to write them…I just don’t wanna.

Identifying this as the cause of the holdup clarifies and focuses my energy, and it’s easier to choose my next step.

I might reward myself with a dance break after each exercise I write or pick some really fun music to listen to while I type away.

Or I might create a placeholder and move onto the next section, circling back in a few days to see if I’m feeling more inspired. And that way, the dreaded section doesn’t throw the entire book off track, and I can stay in the flow.

If the task is something you don’t want to do and perhaps aren’t equipped to do, you could hire someone else.

The point is, getting clear on what, exactly, you don’t want to do helps you create a game plan.

Thoth Tarot

For me, without this clarity I just have a vague sense of restlessness, I tend to procrastinate…

…and I might even ditch the project entirely and move onto something new and shiny, because things feel crappy, but I don’t really know why.

Learning how to recognize your own creative blocks and how to remove them is very in keeping with the Emperor card of the tarot.

Card number four, which is a number related to structure and stability, the Emperor provides a framework to support the creative energy of the preceding card, the Empress.

Without this structure, our creative energy dissipates into the environment, and we feel scattered and drained.

We might feel devoid of ideas, because we haven’t forged a suitable container with which to receive them, or we’re flush with ideas that go nowhere, which has us feeling disappointed and mistrustful of our own follow through.

I’ve found that when someone is new to their creative process…

…in other words, when they don’t yet know what works for them and what doesn’t–they tend to think more freedom and less structure is best.

“I want to be free to follow inspiration wherever it takes me!”

“I’ll do all the things!”

This person might balk at creating regular office hours for their creative time or imposing limits on the scope of a project.

But there’s a reason why we need both the Empress and the Emperor.

If we don’t set aside time for what matters, the world will enthusiastically schedule our time for us, down to our last, harried minute.

If we don’t establish limits for a project, it will endlessly balloon to encompass “just one more thing” and never be finished.

Both of these routes protect us from devoting our time and energy to things we care deeply about while not knowing how they’ll be received, so many of us have inner parts that employ these strategies to keep us “safe.”

For this Full Moon, here’s a tarot spread to help you create useful structure and helpful discipline.

First, pull the Emperor card from your deck and place it in the middle of the layout. Then, shuffle the rest of the deck and draw two cards, placing them on either side.

If you visualize energy flowing from left to right, this spread shows you the nature of a current creative block (card 1), and then that energy is influenced by the Emperor, where it emerges as forward momentum (card 3).

Use the information from the cards to learn more about the nature of the block; how the Emperor transforms the energy; and what sorts of action steps, mindset shifts, and other insights will help you embody that change in your daily life.

Happy Full Moon!

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