I have a thought in the back of my mind... Always...
Everywhere I go, especially when going to stores, and everything I see, I always have that thought: Could this be used for magic? Many of the best gimmicks and utility devices outthere are invented from something already invented. If you wanna build your own car, there's no reason to reinvent the wheel!
Let no idea slip away! Write every idea you get down. Keep a notebook with you always. Especially on your night stand! I get most ideas when falling asleep or in the shower... Where do you get yours? Use it when you find out!
Educate yourself and invest! Learn from the masters! Every technique, sleight and gimmick you learn about. Every piece of advice and thought you get from other magicians make you all the more ready to create your own stuff! Knowledge is power, and everything you know upgrades you arsenal and potential to create! Join magic forums, and be aware that you can learn from magicians with 25 years of experience, but also from one that has done magic for 1 day! Also, when you help others, you become more aware of what you know yourself. You learn by teaching! Practise with other magicians and go to your local magic club! The more you talk magic with magicians, the more you learn! Two minds think better than one! You aren't a member of a magic club or have friends that do magic? Find them online, and do Skype sessions. Video calls about magic! Find other magicians on Facebook and befriend them. Most of the advice I am giving to you right now is inspired by fellow magicians in fora and magic clubs, or advice given to me in DVD's I purchased!
Ask yourself: What is in every magicians toolbox? Scotch tape? Velcro? Rubber cement? Elastic thread? Roughing fluid? Why do we find these items there? What is your favourite kind of magic? Cards? Coins? How do you use these tools to create new wonderful magic card or coin effects then?
Explore old gimmicks, sleights and methods, and discover new appliances!
Scout for things that seem to be magical on their own. A good example for this is magnets. Magnets seem magical even when not used for magic... So do soap bubbles. Explore how the laws of physics sometimes seem to trick the mind. Why doesn't the water pour out of a glass held upside down if only there's a piece of paper covering the bottom? Find out, and use it! Maybe with a see-through paper on the mouth of bottle? Wouldn't it be fantastic to a spectator, if you could turn the bottle upside down, and decide when the water would be pouring out with a simple shake?
Explore how the eyes and the mind can be cheated. Why is it that when you place a glass on top of two cigarette packets and ask people which is longer: The circumference of the rim of the glass, or the length from the table to the top of the glass, that they give you the wrong answer? Try this on your own, and ask yourself how can this principle be used?
In nature, there are a lot of "build in mechanics". Why did the magician pull off the doves head? Because he observed that when sleeping, the dove has the ability to tuck the head back beneath it's wing. How did the magician bring the dead fly or ladybug back to life? Because he asked himself: How do they survive the winter? And he found out that flies and ladybugs can survive being frozen, and that the heat from his breath and hands would bring them back to life. What other wonders of nature can you find? Can you use it in your magic?
What abilities do you have other than magic that would entertain or wonder your audience? Do you play the drums and can you play a drum solo where you vanish and reappear the drumsticks while playing? Are you good at acting? Could you do a "REAL" performance of Miser's Dream, where a hungry boy laying in the street, finds an empty bucket. In his hunger he pretends to grab something... anything from the air and put it into the bucket, and when he does, It becomes REAL! He produces more and more money from the air going from coin technices to the osaka bills, and in the end when he wants to take the money to the baker, everything dissapears and he wakes up... hungry... alone... on the bench he fell a sleep on the night before...
Can you dance? Can you sing? Mongolian throat singing perhaps? It seems very magical, and maybe you can use it to "make things float"?
What are you good at? And why not use it?
Learn more skills! In attempts to add to my magic, I have learned to juggle. I can do a coin roll and card flourishes. I can solve a Rubik's Cube in under a minute. I can unicycle, I do speedstacking, I play a mean yoyo and diabolo etc. etc. etc. The more skills I have, the more confident I feel. Tell yourself this: "I can do anything! And the things I can't do, I CAN LEARN!" YouTube and Wonderhowto are PACKED with people teaching you anything you can think of!
How do you enhance the effect you have created? When you have invented the method or gimmick how do you present it? Why would the audience care? Why is it magical? When do you pause to milk the effect to it's most magical potential? When do you "make the magic happen"? Can you clean it up more? Can you imrove it? Try it in 20 different ways before you pick the one you like the most. Or even better have laymen pick it for you! Film yourself doing it, and remove anything superfluous or "fishy"! Can you "stack" the effect you created with other great effects such as "Smoke", "Electric Touch", "Biokinesis" or things like flash paper to create more impact on your effect? Remember however, the great words of Michael Ammar: "Everything that doesn't add, detracts!"
Give it a story! The more interesting the patter, the more interesting the effect. Or is your effect better when delivered in total silence? Maybe even try playing different kinds of music, and see what happens when you perform it? Are you good at writing interesting stories? Yes? Then make the most of your trick by doing it! No?
Then why not use the most beautiful stories that people have told eachother for years, but maybe aren't so wellknown in your culture? I give you an example:
I am right now (mostly for practise) developing a card trick that includes every single colour change I know, and ends in a total "full deck surprise". Every character introduced in the story is a colour change... Here's the story that I intend to go with it:
Persephone...(I pause. The audience is trying to figure out where they heard it before. It is such an interesting word that they are already intrigued) was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Now as Zeus was the Greatest God mostly known for his weapon, the lightning arrow that tore the sky open, Demeter was the God of nature. I guess we would call her "Mother Nature". One day Zeus came to Demeters bed, and some time after Persephone was born. Persephone was very dear to her mother, and as Persephone grew to be a beautiful young lady, four men came to ask for her hand in marriage. One of them , Hermes, the God with the bewinged sandals. Demeter, however, refused their gifts and proposals, as she could not bear the thought of not having Persephone at her side. When taking a walk with some of her friends the nymphs, the ground opened and Hades, the God of the underworld, kidnapped Persephone. Demeter was devistated with the loss of her daughter. She looked everywhere for her, and in her pain, she neglected the earth and every blossom and tree lost their beauty and were left to die. Helios, the sun, had seen everything and told Zeus what had happened. He was furious, and the nymphs were banned to live their lives as Sirenes on a little island, singing beautiully, luring sailors to their deaths! Zeus travelled to Hades and demanded Persephone be returned to her mother. However, Hades had tricked Persephone into eating some seads while in the underworld, and everyone that ate something in the underworld would have to stay there. Zeus took Persephone home anyway, but Persephone would have to spend half a year with the Gods, half a year with Hades in the underworld forever. Everytime Persephone would have to leave her mother to be the queen of the underworld, Demeter was burdened with sorrow, again leaving trees and flowers to die. How else do you explain the seasons changing?
Now this is a very interesting story, thus enhancing the magic going on between my hands, and more importantly between the two ears of my spectators. I invite you to think through what would enhance your magic where it matters the most: In the minds of your spectators.
Do you need a place to try out new stuff?
Mr Jeff McBride gives great advice in his teaching dvd's, and I believe it was actually his father that came up with this for him. I can't remember the exact words neither the dvd it is on, but here goes:
"If you want practice (and remember that one performance is equal to a weeks practice) go to the local children's hospital. You will not find a more greatful audience, and you might even get some free publicity out of it."
Now this is really great advice. Think about it: You can't dissapoint anyone, as you are there giving a free service to people that more than anyone need to believe in miracles. There will always be people to perform for (sadly), so you can get all the practice you need or want. People will admire you and be grateful to you, for what you are doing for their nearest. Children have nothing to do in a hospital all day long! You will build your selfconfidence, and soon people will ask you if you do birthdays and so on.
There are things to consider though: Always ask the staff where and when to perform! Have THEM tell you where your services might be needed. You are there to help, and not to stand in the way of the people working there! Also some of these children might be very ill. Consider the fact that it can be very demanding for you to be with sick children often. It is not for everyone! Worst case scenario; one of the children you have performed for several times doesn't make it. (This happened to me, and I didn't return to the hospital for quite a while). It is ok to stay away for a while. It is your choise to be there, and though I felt I got so much in return when performing in hospitals, some might think it requires too much of them! This is personal, and one must feel for oneself.
Some of the children might not benefit from getting too excited. Again consult the staff, and bring a book you can read to the children that might otherwise miss out on your visit. (This might also give you a nice break)
One a side notice, there are other places to go that would much appreciate you! Retirement homes, Orphanages etc. You could also go to fleamarkets where hundreds of people pass by you. Buy a bunch of svengali decks and seel it to the kids while you're at it! Let's get some future colleagues
You could even go online to places like Chatroulette that pairs you up with different random people all over the world, just waiting to be entertained!
I have made a Facebook group for only my closest friends that have followed my development in magic since the beginning. Everytime I try something new, and I am not going to see them in person soon, I post it inthere and they give me the feedback I need. Maybe you could make a group only for your magician friends, and then every week one of you could make a challenge to the others in turns. "This week train your DL's and show which one you ended up liking the most. Then tell us and show us why." could be an example of this...
Where to go with your "final" product? (I guess it's never final because everything can always be improved)
YOU decide! It's your trick! Go perform it for 30 years, or share it with the magic community. If you wish to do the last, send it to Penguin Magic or other magic vendors.