One of the rough things about being creative is people taking your work and calling it their own. This recently happened (in a non magic context) when I posted this picture that I took on social media:
Then someone took the picture and passed it off as their own:
No little photo credit or even tagging me. Sure if he gave me a photo credit, it would takeaway the idea that this was his idea…but you know what, it’s not his idea, it’s mine! Since I know this person, simply asking me if they could use the picture would have been a nice courtesy.
On the surface this appears to be a stupid little picture and it is. But there was a bit of hard work to get there. First of all someone had to have the idea of putting shrimp where it didn’t belong. Here are the three previous ideas before I got to the coffee (which is the best image):
FYI, I’ve also learned that I’m not the first person to do the Corona bottle when someone posted it in the comments of the picture of the shrimp in the coffee, and honestly I’d be surprised if I was the first person to do the coffee.
Above is the full uncropped image. Next I had to blur the background and crop it to get to the final image.
While it’s not a ton of work, it’s still my energy, both creative and physical…I’m the one who put in the work. There were steps to get to the final image, it didn’t just appear like magic out of nowhere. This is the exact same thing as stealing a joke from my show. I try to be creative all the time, and it really sucks when someone passes my work off as their own.
The moral of the story is don’t steal other people’s creativity.
I’m still going through the book The Artist’s Way, which is a book about being more creative. It’s a 12 week program that has a lot of writing you need to do. I’m just starting week two, and I’ll say, I’m getting more than I expected to get out of it.
For me, the big thing is the morning writing you do each day. It’s just putting a pen to paper and writing for three pages. It’s a free writing scenario, you write whatever’s on your mind. I’ve had a couple of great ideas come out of the writing. It’s also giving me more depth as a person on and off stage as it’s making me explore some internal things that I might not really have looked at.
One of the ideas that came out of the daily writing is a trick with a jar of candy. The jar is full, then I produce candy and when you look back at the jar, it’s now half full. You then put the candy you just made appear back into the jar and it’s full again. The method is solid, and practical. I wouldn’t really have this trick it if it wasn’t for the daily morning writing. I still need to make the trick…but it wouldn’t exist on paper at least without the morning writing!
A couple of weeks ago I was performing at a fair and another act mentioned she was going through a book called The Artist’s Way. This is a book about how to be more creative. It’s more than a book, it’s a series of things you need to do and it’s broken down by week. It doesn’t feel like a lot work, but it is. There’s a lot of writing that needs to happen. I’m not afraid of writing, so it’s not as daunting as it may be for me. If you’re someone who really hasn’t done much writing, it may be a little bit of a challenge.
I’m only on day three, and the book gives you things to do by the week, so I’m on week 1. The first week seems to be identifying the things that are holding you back, and while I did know some of the things that I’ve brought up in my writing, there were a couple of surprises as well.
This book has a pretty hippy vibe. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I guess that writing style may turn some people off. So far, I’m down with this book, but it’s a twelve week thing, so we’ll see how I feel by the end (assuming I make it to the end).
A couple of weeks ago I did a magic lecture and was asked about how to me more creative. The first thing you need to realize is that you’ll have a ton of bad ideas, and to get over the fear of failure. Once you’ve done that you are ahead of 99% of people.
The thing that I think is the key to being creative is being able to connect two unrelated things. Whether it’s two tricks or a solution and a problem. This is something I didn’t k now I was doing until I read the book Moonwalking with Einstein. This is a book about memory, and having a decent memory helps you connect things.
The other ingredient to being able to connect two things is having two things in your brain to connect. I recently came across this quote:
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
I 100% agree with Steve Jobs, you need to have experiences to connect.
How do you get those?
Simple, you go out and live. I’m always out doing things, seeing shows, having adventures and all of that goes into my brain and it gives me more things to connect. I’m also always reading magic books, that give me methods in my brain. I also try to reasonably work through everything I read in a magic book, that gives me a tactile experience in my brain to pull from.
So go out and live and be a lifelong student of whatever your artform is!
One of the books I’m reading is Moonwalking With Einstein, which is a book about memory competitions. It’s a great book and really breaks down memory systems and why they work. It doesn’t really teach memory systems, but it’s a great overview of different techniques. In the book in there’s a mention of creativity and … Continue reading “Memory = Creativity”
One of the books I’m reading is Moonwalking With Einstein, which is a book about memory competitions. It’s a great book and really breaks down memory systems and why they work. It doesn’t really teach memory systems, but it’s a great overview of different techniques.
In the book in there’s a mention of creativity and how people with good memories tend to be more creative. Then it basically breaks down how creativity works in less than a sentence. I’m paraphrasing, but the book says, “creativity is to be able to connect two unrelated ideas”.
I totally agree with this. The better you are at connecting two ideas the more creative you are. That’s what makes a joke work, connecting a set up an punchline. That’s what makes a magic trick work, connecting a prop with an effect. Of course there’s also the craft part of it, where you turn the two ideas into a workable chunk of material.
The better your mental file cabinet is, the more ideas you’ll have.
It drives me nuts when people say they “aren’t creative like me” or that ” not everyone can create new tricks”. That’s total BS, it’s not that they aren’t creative, it’s that they aren’t motivated to be creative. Just like learning a sleight of hand move it simply takes practice. The easiest way to start … Continue reading “How To Create New Tricks…”
It drives me nuts when people say they “aren’t creative like me” or that ” not everyone can create new tricks”. That’s total BS, it’s not that they aren’t creative, it’s that they aren’t motivated to be creative. Just like learning a sleight of hand move it simply takes practice.
The easiest way to start your creative thinking is to read a description of a magic trick and figure out a method. Don’t watch a demo video as what you see can affect what you do. Watching a demo could make try to make you recreate that specific the method, this isn’t what you want to do.
Coming up with your own methods is a good starting point for learning to be creative.
The key to being creative is actually putting energy into it. Sure some ideas pop out of nowhere, some are the result of specific work. I used to set aside 30-45 mins every morning to try to come up with ideas (magic tricks / jokes / etc). The key is to do it everyday, I do it in the morning because if I do it then, it will get done. Be aware that 95% of these ideas will be junk, but you are mining for the 5% that’s good.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how to be more creative. My method for creativity isn’t very formal. It’s more of when I see something I think, “wouldn’t it be cool if…” then I try to figure out a way to do that. I’m trying to come up with a better way. One idea was to … Continue reading “Creativity Tools…”
Lately I’ve been thinking about how to be more creative. My method for creativity isn’t very formal. It’s more of when I see something I think, “wouldn’t it be cool if…” then I try to figure out a way to do that. I’m trying to come up with a better way.
One idea was to have cards with all of the effects in magic. For example one card would says, “appear” and another would say, “penetration”. Then I’d have another set of cards that would have a list of object. They could be objects that are common in magic like a card, or ball, but then a bunch of less common magic items like a toothbrush. There would be an optional third set of cards that would have items that must be used in the method, like thread or a magnet.
I was thinking of getting an app made for my phone that would randomly pick the effect and objects. This would make it more convenient than having three sets of physical cards, and make it easier to add objects.
I think having a system in place for creativity will help me churn out ideas. The key to creativity is volume, the more ideas you have, the more bad ideas you have. Getting the bad ideas out of the way, to get to the one out of a hundred idea that’s good, hopefully is an efficient manner!