There are a lot of folks out there who perform magic, or want to perform magic, who think that they are not creative. They believe they cannot come up with their own presentations and need stock patter in order to perform. Maybe bogd19 is thinking along these lines.
There is absolutely no question that creativity comes easier to some people. Some folks are born gifted; others arent. Sometimes you have to work at whatever gifts passed you by.
I used to think that I lacked this kind of creativity until I started to exercise that part of my brain. I learned that creativity can be learned. Now I am finding it much easier to come up with presentations for effects that I like.
I learned the process of creativity: Its techniques, if you will. And it all begins with one thing: Observation. Open your eyes and your mind. Pay attention.
An exercise that will get you startedwhich I learned in lighting design when I was in collegeis describing everyday scenes and objects that you see by really going into detail.
Its not; the tree had green leaves. Its should be; The short tree had small leaves that were a very dark green. They shimmered in the sunlight as they rustled in the wind.
Which one of those descriptions paints a clear picture of a tree in your mind? The next time someone asks you what the weather is like, dont just say, Its cloudy. Describe the colors you see (or dont seeever notice that colors are less vivid on overcast days?). Describe the amount of wind and what its doing to the trees and objects on the ground. Note the smells in the air. Learn to observe and describe, not just see and say.
How, you might ask, does that make someone creative? What does that have to do with magic?
Answer: it changes the mindset. It teaches you how to take input (be it sensorial stimulus or factual information) and express it in a form that places unmistakable imagery in the mind of the person(s) receiving it.
Doesnt that sound like something you might want to do with your magic?
Four words I will never forget, and can still hear as if it were yesterday that I heard them, are, Creativity: What is it?
That phrase (with heavy emphasis on WHAT) is how Dewitt Jones begins his program on creativity. Dewitt Jones is a sought after corporate speaker. I was lucky enough to see him some years ago. I can honestly say that he transformed my thinking. Dewitt Jones is a photographer and filmmaker who worked for National Geographic and is now a freelancer. His stock in trade is his own creativity. But he is able to help you realize that you are indeed creative. I might not be super creative (read: gifted). But I am creative enough. And chances are so are you. Creativity is right there in front of you. You need only be observant enough to recognize it.
Of course, it may be behind you. Sometimes you have to turn around (thank you Mr. Jones). Like I said, what you need to be creative is to pay attention.
Sources of creativity are all around us. Many are already a part of our lives. You need stories for your magic? Why use someone elses patter when you probably have some good stories of your own? What interests do you have other than magic? Sports? Do you enjoy science fiction? Romance? Fantasy? There are endless subjects that can be adapted as subjects for magical effects. Chances are you are into one or more of them. What about life experiences? Has anything ever happened in your life that was extremely funny, or weird; maybe even heart warming? Stories with emotional hooks can become very potent performing pieces. Perhaps you can adapt those stories to your magic.
Its always better to stick with what you know, but its certainly not a requirement. The life experiences of family members can be a source of creative stimulation. Do you have a parent or grandparent (or uncle or cousin; any family member, maybe even friends or friends of friends) who tell great stories? I bet youve heard them a hundred times but never considered the fact that you could adapt them to a piece of magic.
You can also let experts be your source of creativity. Maybe a circus story might work for a new trick you just bought. See Two Hundred Years of the American Circus by Tom Ogden. Its filled with wonderful ideas for stories. In fact, Tom has two other books that are excellent sources for stories: Wizards and Sorcerers, and The Complete Idiots Guide to Ghosts and Hauntings.
There are books on every subject you can imagine, arent there? The next time you feel like buying a new trick, go to a library instead. Or go hang out at one of those giant bookstores where you can sample the books in a nice comfy chair while sipping a latte if thats more your style. Just be sure to purchase something.
Chances are your home is filled with opportunities. Pick up that old copy of The Guiness Book of World Records thats gathering dust. Talk about a freak show. Its second only to Ripleys?Believe it or Not, another possible idea source. And speaking of freak shows, Ricky Jays Learned Pigs and Fireproof Woman is another excellent source, as are any books about the kindred arts. Chris Wasshuber sells an eBook copy of Houdinis Miracle Mongers and Their Methods which is another great source for ideas.
There are many usable books about the Wild West, Greek and Roman myths, Shakespeare, Poe. I could go on and on. And a lot of them are on the discount table!
Do you hate books? Have you been to the movies lately? Are you into classic films? Have you seen every single James Bond movie? I once pulled a story idea out of a western that worked quite well for me at the time. Im not talking about actually referencing the movie; the movie gave me the idea for the presentation. If I can do it, so can you, believe me.
It is so important to pay complete attention. If youre looking at something you think may be an idea source, but its not coming together, change the view! Remember what I said about turning around? This is right out of Dewitt Jones thinking. Had he not simply turned around, one of his most famous photos would have been missed. (Youve probably seen it in an ad, but dont know that its his.) So, in thinking about a tricks presentation, maybe youre looking at something that you think should be funny, but its not working. Well maybe its weird or spooky instead! Something that is normally dramatic could end up being funny. Change the view and you will probably see something better.
With all of that said, I dont believe that creativity can be forced. It is imperative that you are relaxed when you are searching for ideas. You know; comfy chairs and lattes. If youre stressed because you have got to put together a presentation for some new trick in a week, you will likely fail. Rarely does creativity and pressure make good bedfellows.
And speaking of bed, take it from me: Keep a pen and paper handy on your nightstand. If you think of something in the middle of the night, get up and write it down right then. Dont take a chance at forgetting it. By writing it down, the worst thing that can happen is that the idea looks lousy in the morning. But if you dont write it down, and you forget it, youll kick yourself (been there, done that)! Creative thoughts can hit you at any time. Always be prepared to write things down. As the wise man said, The palest of ink is better than the sharpest memory.
Those of us not gifted with creativity and other talents have to work at it: Some harder than others. But it can also be fun work if you let it. Unfortunately, we live in a world of instant gratification. We want something for nothing (or for little as possible) and we want it NOW. I dont think it works that way; not if you want something good. And I think we all should strive to make our magic good.
Now if I could just do a better pass