52 Ways to Shift Your Focus

Shift #23: Get a Creative Card Deck

Recently, my friend Suzannah sent me a gift. Suzannah is a fiber artist with whom I’ve been friends for many years. We have talked about our creative processes and our work over all that time, each of us evolving as we explore our ideas. So, when I opened the package she sent a few weeks ago to find a deck of Vision Quest Cards, I thought about how we continue to nourish each other’s creativity.

You may be wondering just what in the world Vision Quest Cards are. They are a deck of 36 cards, each one printed with a photo assignment. The assignments are broad enough for multiple interpretations and give gentle nudges toward new ways of looking at the world. One of my favorites is the one that says to make a scenic photograph, then eliminate one element and re-shoot, then repeat until nothing is left. The idea is to count how many steps get the photographer from the first shot to the one with nothing. Visual editing. But I won’t start with that one. As I scanned through the deck, it seemed that the order of the cards was deliberate, even though the instructions say to simply quiet my mind and pick a card. I might do this twice – once in order and once at random, then see how the two experiences compare. Did I say I might do this twice? That’s wrong. I’ll do this over and over, see what happens differently every time.

This gift reminded me that I have another creative card deck laying around my office. It’s called the Creative Whack Pack. I bought this deck a long time ago partly because it looked like fun and partly because I could use it as a teaching tool. This deck has multiple uses as a problem-solving tool, a creative exercise, a Tarot-like reading to reconsider how a project is going, a group-oriented workshop, and on and on. It asks questions like, “How persistent are you?” and, “How would you feel if you were the idea you’re developing?” There are suggestions like, “Change its name”, and “Use your shield.” I can see how the Creative Whack Pack might work together with the Vision Quest Deck. Even better, I might offer the Whack Pack to my daughter as she contemplates the college application essay that she’s going to submit in the next week or so. And I can use it for the next time I need to write an editor’s view at Every Day Poets.

The Vision Quest Cards feel personal. Those are going to give me direction over the winter, become a complement to my poetry and essays. I’m excited about the possibilities.

Time to take the card deck out of the box.

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