Creating your own Spreads

Many readers create their own spreads.
You can do this by modifying an existing spread, or design your own from scratch. Gail Fairfield in "Choice Centered Tarot" provides some useful guidelines for designing your own spreads, which I have borrowed from for this lesson. First you have to decide what you want to know in general terms.
Tarot questions are best framed with the words "what, why or how" rather than questions that have yes/no answers. Once you have decided what you want to know in general, break it down into specific things you want to know about the general area.
Then design a spread to answer those specific questions. Determine the number of cards you want for each question, the total number of cards the spread will contain and a shape for it if you like your spreads to have a particular shape.
I like to base spreads on a "past, present future theme" asking what past events have been important in this issue, where do things stand now and where are things likely to head if no action is taken to change them.
I might also ask what I can do to influence events and what effects those actions will have on the outcome. I might throw from one to three cards for each question, with more for clarification if needed. Fairfield provides the following summary for designing a spread:

1. Discuss/brainstorm what the person wants to know in the form of questions or issues.
2. Organize what they want to know in a list of questions or issues.
3. Make adjustments to the questions/issues as needed adding new ones or rewording what you have, until you and the readee both feel that you have the appropriate questions and issues identified.
4. Draw out a layout plan for addressing the issues and questions, deciding how many cards should be allocated for each one and deciding on a design shape that appeals to both of you.
5. Number the layout positions on your plan.

This is a spread I designed when feeling down one day.

The Blues Spread

Card 1 - Who I am right at this moment

Cards 2 & 3 - Why I'm feeling blue - the actual events that have made me feel this way or the thought processes which have led me to this mood.

Cards 4,5 & 6 - Additional factors contributing to this mood - additional issues that are contributing to this down feeling

Cards 7 & 8 - Activities for myself - things I can do right now to improve this mood or take my mind off it
Card 9 - What I can look forward to or hope for - A thought about the future to focus on, a dream or wish for the future.

Cards 7 & 8 are especially important for me because when I feel down, my first impulse is to go shopping! This spread has spared my checkbook more than once