A new year is a great time for creating positive change in your life. Give yourself permission to try something new, knowing it may or may not succeed. I find if you just get started, merely taking that tiny first step puts you well ahead of the game.
With that in mind, I encourage you to push yourself as a magician with some suggestions for a first step in a new direction.
Make ‘Someday’ Today - We all have a tricks and ideas that we have been saying, likely for quite a long while, that we would work on “someday”. Just get started... now.
Make a list of all these ideas, write it out, and pick one that most appeals to you right this moment. Maybe you’ve never gathered the needed supplies. Do it! Borrow them if necessary. Maybe there’s one element you feel is beyond your reach. Try it! Ask for help. When you finish (or give up) that idea, go back to the list and pick the next one. Making time for your “someday” list will make you the magician you want to be.
Bust Some Knuckles - Learn a new sleight or technique that you generally thought to be beyond your skill level.
About two months ago while reading Routined Manipulation Finale I came across a routine using four coins. The principle sleight involved was producing the coins, individually, from a Downs Palm. The author, Lewis Ganson, wrote “Stay with this sleight until you have it perfect. It will repay the time required to master it a thousandfold, as it is one of the most useful and deceptive of all the sleights in the whole range of coin magic.”
The first step I took was simply putting four half dollars on my desk. There they were, within easy reach. As I paused during my workday, I could pick them up and fumble through the moves. It was hard. It seemed to be out of reach. After a couple days I felt a glimmer of hope. It wasn’t any better, but it started to feel easier. And so it goes, bit by bit and day by day. Having been interrupted by moving to a new home, the coins are now back out on my desk, and my fingers are picking up on the progress where they left off. Next time you see me, you can ask how the mastery is going.
Cut The Fat - Look at your current show or repertoire and single out the one thing that you perform reluctantly. Cut - it - out!
You’ve got your A-material... then you fill out your show with your B-material... and then there is that C, D, or even F stuff that often falls flat, leaving both you and the audience un-inspired. Just toss it out, no matter how long you’ve been dragging it with you. You will feel better. There are plenty of suggestions here on how to fill the gap.
Build A New Prop - The building process can increase both passion and creativity.
I’m no Gerry Frenette. I don’t even have a workshop. When I build props it is often with cardboard, coathangers, and duct tape. The point is not to be a master craftsman, but to build something! Maybe a set of gimmicked envelopes, or a nest of boxes sourced from the Dollar Store. In fact, I encourage you to build it cheap and fast the first time, because you may find plans change and ideas are born in the process. It’s easier to experiment with cardboard than with oak.
Try Something New - Learn something from a different magical genre.
If you are a mentalist, learn a trick that will make a six-year-old laugh. If you are a card guy, learn the sponge balls. We tend to put self-imposed fences around what we can or cannot do. Step outside your own box. You may like it, you may not. It may change everything!
When you have a life-long love affair with magic the passion does tend to wax and wane. Maybe this past year you felt more passive, resting on your accumulated experience. I challenge you to use these suggestions as a push-start, to re-activate your pursuit of magic.
And remember, enthusiasm is contagious, so share your progress with your magician friends!