• Creativity and Practise in the Real World

  • March 10, 2021

  • When it comes to working in the creative field, there is always a pressure to create in whatever form that takes. This is hardly surprising given that we work in a creative field.

    But if we worked in an office, or as a supermarket checkout girl or an accountant, we would be more focused on repetition. And just repetition. No need for creativity. Task arrives. Complete task. New task arrives.

    (And I want to be very clear, there is plenty of room for creativity in these jobs, and that is often what would differentiate that person as one of the stars of their industry, but it is certainly not the norm)

    An endless loop. Another “mindless drone” on the conveyor belt of capitalism.

    (Don’t worry, I’m not yet articulate, intelligent or confident to go on a rant about political ideologies!)

    Magic is all about repetition though

    Well, practice in magic is all about repetition. (I’ve even said it before myself!) But we still need some creativity in the process first.

    When we decide what magic trick to perform, how to perform it, what character to perform as, and so on.

    Those creative decisions indicate where the practice and repetition should be applied.

    Creativity is a muscle

    When we spend time creating, writing, planning our magic performances, it can often be the most challenging part of the process, not least because it’s the first thing we have to do and influences everything that follows. No pressure there!

    By practising our creativity muscles (through repetition, of course), we can get better at generating ideas.

    What would an example of that look like?

    Well, this!

    By which I mean this article. I started writing this with no idea what I would write about.

    This idea popped into my head, and I’m running with it.

    Even now, I’m not entirely sure what will come next, but on we must go!

    The show must go on!

    How can I apply it?

    Do what I am doing now. Go through the process of creation, again and again, and again.

    I talked about this in my last post actually! With the story of the pottery class.

    So find the thing you want to get better at, and find a way to make it part of your routine.

    For me, I want to improve my writing (and in particular, copywriting) skills. So the best way to do that is to keep churning out blog posts.

    Even when you aren’t providing value?

    Especially then. Failure is an important part of the process. I realise as I write this that it isn’t jam-packed with value that anyone can learn from. But if I stick to my practice of doing this every day, my writing will improve. My ability to provide value will grow with it.

    So, here I am. Showing up. Getting the essential daily practice that I desperately need.

    Any extra tips?

    Get on and do it!

    That and don’t spend forever studying.

    I have spent far longer than I care to admit trying to learn how to do something so I can do it perfectly before I get on with it. DON’T DO THIS!

    And this can be particularly hard when you’re a magician!

    An extra challenge for magicians

    Yup. This is extra hard and extra important for magicians for a few reasons.

    The biggest one, though, is that we tend to be perfectionists. And nothing gets in the way of creating more than perfectionism.

    Perfection is an unattainable goal. You will never reach it. Not in your own eyes, at least anyway.

    Some of you may have heard of this before, and I do not doubt it. It’s very accurate, and teachers, coaches, and every educational expert out there will tell it to you as well. It is crucial to understand.

    But magicians have to be reminded of this even more.

    Because we are told via the magician’s oath, or that front cover of a new magic book, or the opening scene in a new magic DVD, the importance of having a trick be as perfect as we can make it.

    The unfair disadvantage

    Thus, it often becomes ingrained in us that a trick must be perfect to perform it.

    Now, I am not saying that this is terrible advice, but we must handle it with care.

    We must practice as much as we can to make our effects as powerful as possible. Up to a point.

    From then on, I am a firm believer in practising by doing.

    Getting real feedback from real audiences and no other magicians. We can be a very harsh crowd!

    The secret technique

    But how can we practise new material, without exposing ourselves or giving a bad performance?

    To a certain extent, you can’t!

    But we can hide the experimentation so our audience doesn’t notice it.

    There are plenty of scientific studies that show in any situation; people remember the beginning and end far more strongly than anything that happened in between.

    So, use that to your advantage. Open and close each “act” with an effect that you know is an absolute killer. Then, in between those effects, try out your new material. See what works and what didn’t work.

    Because of this, your audience will forget about any disastrous performance and will only remember the incredible opening and ending of your performance. That way, you are safe to experiment with the new magic in the middle.

    With this real-world experience, you will be able to improve that “middle” effect until it is worthy of being in either the opening or ending slot of your act. You can now rinse and repeat.

    This will allow you to build your repertoire, increase your confidence and improve your skills in a real-world situation.

    The dangers if ignored

    I have seen too many magicians not use this sort of “real world” practice, and almost every time, without fail, they become a hobbyist magician.

    And I have nothing against hobbyists. As I have mentioned before, they are some of the most talented and skilful magicians out there.

    But, we are not here to show off to other magicians. We are here to entertain and amaze our audiences.

    Now, go out and practice!

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