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Topic: Do you keep a journal to keep track of what you've performed?
Message: Posted by: ViciousCycle (Jul 23, 2007 08:54AM)
At first, when I started keeping a journal to log what tricks I had performed for various people, I had a simple motive. I was trying to avoid repeating the same tricks for the same people. But I quickly began to find that it was a tool much more valuable than that. It allows me to spot trends. What types of tricks am I getting the best reactions from? What types of tricks do I need to stop performing for others immediately until certain problems have been resolved? Who is entertained by my tricks and who should I make a deliberate effort not to perform tricks for? What types of patter hold someone's attention and what types give them momentary attention deficit disorder? And there were surprises as the journal began to build up a body of evidence. The types of tricks that I willingly put the most effort into and got the best reactions from were quite different from what I had merely thought was my favorite type of trick.

I'm merely an amateur who uses magic to entertain friends, but my journal has been a valuable tool in allowing me to entertain others rather than just being a pest with my tricks. I'd be interested in hearing about the experiences of others who use journals to keep track of their magical work.....
Message: Posted by: mitchb2 (Jul 23, 2007 09:54AM)
I keep an Excel spreadsheet with three columns:

1. Things I can do right now
2. Things I've learned but still need practice before performing
3. Things I want to learn.
Message: Posted by: Jason Simonds (Jul 23, 2007 10:08AM)
Those are both really interesting ideas. Do you update your journal shortly after you are done performing so its fresh or do you just update it when you can? Have you phased out a few tricks as a result of your journal? Have you learned some new ones that you might not have bothered learning because of it?
Message: Posted by: Mark Wilden (Jul 23, 2007 11:06AM)
I use a database application I wrote, called Abracadata. One thing that's useful is the "Unperformed Tricks Report," which tells me what tricks I haven't performed for people (usually my coworkers). That way I don't have to ask them whether they've seen that trick where one card is upside down in the deck (which kind of spoils it).

Another report tells me when I last practiced and when I last performed a trick. Helps make sure I'm not rusty.

I record practices and performances, of tricks, flourishes and moves.

I also use a notebook, for keeping notes.

///ark
Message: Posted by: JamesTong (Jul 23, 2007 11:25AM)
I agree with the journal and it's invaluable. There is just so much hidden information in it that can be of tremendous help in many ways.
Message: Posted by: mitchb2 (Jul 23, 2007 11:27AM)
[quote]
On 2007-07-23 11:08, Jason Simonds wrote:
Have you learned some new ones that you might not have bothered learning because of it?
[/quote]

Definitely. Because when I see something I want to learn, I put it in the journal.
I may not get around to learning it for quite a while, so the journal reminds me of it.
Right now I've got Killer Key on it, and I hope to learn it this week.
I didn't learn it before because it has a move that I couldn't do yet.

I think that's another great aspect of a journal. Things you want to learn but can't because they require a skill you haven't developed yet. Then when you do, it opens up those tricks to you.
Message: Posted by: DomKabala (Jul 23, 2007 01:28PM)
Anyone who is serious about their magical journey will keep a record even if it is only notes jotted in the margin of a book or periodical. I have always meticulously kept notes in a journal and all my magic literature has notes scribbled within them.
Cardamagically,
<<<KRaZy4KaRdZ>>> /> <> //
:) :bwink:
Message: Posted by: cosmicsecret (Jul 23, 2007 03:18PM)
I also do such kind of journal for me.
Its a small notebook in which I write down my ideas of effects,performance improvements,some cheesy lines,patter,sleights which needs improvements etc.
Its allways handy and helps me to remind myself very well.
Message: Posted by: ViciousCycle (Jul 23, 2007 10:26PM)
[quote]
On 2007-07-23 11:08, Jason Simonds wrote:
Have you phased out a few tricks as a result of your journal?[/quote]

My journal has shown me that there are some tricks that I should not perform as stand-alone tricks. For example, if I'm doing a one-shot trick for someone, my journal shows me that a simple coin vanish falls flat if I do it on its own. A coin vanish needs something to precede it so as to set up a context for magic.

This brings up a larger point that strikes as I study my journal. If I'm doing three or four tricks for someone, each preceding trick sets up a context for further magic to take place. But if doing a one-shot trick, drawing the audience in is paramount.

I love doing tricks where something that starts in the spectator's imagination/thoughts appears to influence physical reality. It places an emphasis on the spectator having a slightly surreal moment rather than an emphasis on how clever the magician is. And my journal does indicate that tricks were the spectator is somehow a part of the trick often work better for me than ones where the specator is just viewing the trick.
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Jul 24, 2007 09:07AM)
Yes, I do
Message: Posted by: Michael F. Dilley (Jul 24, 2007 02:15PM)
I am still learning and just showing some effects to my co-workers and my nephews. One thing I have done for about the past year while starting was to establish a practice drills book. In this I put some of the basic things I needed to do as often as I could, such as the double lift, glide, false shuffle, etc. I have another binder where I put the effects I want to use, some of which I have used on others. As of this morning there are only 24 of these but I concentrate on about 5 or 6. I think the idea of a journal is good; and the thought of doing it in a data base format also suits my style because I am anal and visual (although I try not to get these crossed up!). Keeping track of what I have learned and who has seen it makes a lot of sense as well. Since I tend to be critical of what I show, an area of what works and what doesn't would help me a lot. There were a lot of good ideas in this discussion. Thanks for the help.
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Jul 24, 2007 02:27PM)
In his book "The Magic of Michael Ammar" Ammar has a really good system of worksheets designed for magic management- everything from individual tricks to client tracking. This is worth a good look.
Message: Posted by: Brent McLeod (Jul 25, 2007 03:48AM)
I record every show I do whether stage or street, effects & music use as well as reactins & hints for improvements

Even though I have a base core act its amazing to look back on all the suttle changes over the years to improve your act thanks to a good Journal!!!!!!
Message: Posted by: ViciousCycle (Aug 17, 2007 08:38PM)
[quote]
On 2007-07-25 04:48, Brent McLeod wrote:
its amazing to look back on all the suttle changes over the years to improve your act thanks to a good Journal!!!!!!
[/quote]

I agree. If I look back and see that one particular person complained that they didn't get to shuffle the cards when I did a trick for them, I may make a point of making sure that they get to shuffle the deck thoroughly when I next do a trick for them. If I look back and see that someone told me that they only like tricks with 'natural objects', I may make a point next time of doing a trick with an ordinary deck of cards and not using anything that seems gimmicky. And if I know that someone has an awkward habit of glancing away at awkward moments, I know I have to work on holding their attention. The journal is a very valuable tool if one is willing to take the time to record useful information about both the good and the bad.
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Aug 17, 2007 09:19PM)
Great point - I also scribble down the audience reaktions on certain tricks . . .
Message: Posted by: chuckn34404 (Aug 17, 2007 10:18PM)
In addition to a journal I keep a brief outline of the basic steps or processes for each trick I perform. This makes sure that I maintain each of the steps and the necessary patter etc. that goes with each trick and that I do not create any short cuts or bad habits.

Chuck
Message: Posted by: shek (Aug 22, 2007 08:00PM)
A journal is a great idea and one that I've played around with for a while...although being relatively new to magic, the purpose of my journal is to keep track of my progress with magic. Many great ideas in this thread though...I have actually never thought about recording audience reactions and who I have performed certain effects to.
Message: Posted by: ViciousCycle (Aug 22, 2007 08:26PM)
[quote]
On 2007-08-22 21:00, shek wrote:
the purpose of my journal is to keep track of my progress with magic...I have actually never thought about recording audience reactions and who I have performed certain effects to.
[/quote]

Understanding and recording audience reactions can be useful. My own journal for example, pointed out to me that I was getting great reactions from my presentation of OOTW and neutral reactions from my presentation of Mental Photography, even though I was performing the latter more frequently than the former. So I knew that it was time to play up OOTW more and to put Mental Photography on the backburner until I could present it better.
Message: Posted by: Mark Wilden (Aug 22, 2007 08:54PM)
[quote]
So I knew that it was time to play up OOTW more and to put Mental Photography on the backburner until I could present it better.
[/quote]
Do you think you would have realized that without the journal?

Actually, I think I can answer my own question. Eisenhower said plans are meaningless, but planning is essential. In somewhat the same vein, the advantage of keeping a journal isn't the reading - it's the writing.

///ark
Message: Posted by: jmoran76 (Aug 25, 2007 12:22PM)
I've got a small Moleskine notebook that I've upgraded to recently. I find that if I write it down and take a few note on an effect, I really start to use it. Especially card and coin work.

If I don't write it down, it's a crap shoot to see if I even remember it. I think I've forgotten more than I know today.
Message: Posted by: mrsmiles (Aug 28, 2007 05:58AM)
I find that I do note down a lot BUT I rarely re-read it(!) For me, I think Mark Wilden said something very wise where he wrote "...the advantage of keeping a journal isn't the reading - it's the writing." Thus I think that it is the process of writing that helps make one more reflective and makes one spend quiet time THINKING about what you do. Consciously and subconsciously this influences, helps and improves me thereafter (I hope/believe). Very well put Mark, you hit the nail on the head (IMO).
Whilst I don't read my reflections on performances (or at least rarely) the one thing I DO read however fairly regularly is my list of tricks including ones I know but ones that I don't often do, plus those I plan to bring in and my newest. This helps me because when I'm put 'on the spot' or if I'm doing a gig and a table or group keeps me for 20 minutes instead of 5 mins, I feel more able to remember and select which tricks to do instantly with confidence and with less hesitation. It also serves as a reminder everytime that I look at my list if I am getting stale/complacent and not working in the new tricks soon enough. That list nags me into dropping things and bringing in new stuff. Works for me anyway.
Message: Posted by: RebelAce69 (Aug 28, 2007 10:10PM)
Well after skimming through you all have some very neat ideas, What I've done so far is after I learn a trick I record it on Notepad, I also organize it by category (Examples:Fire, Rope, Cards (no gimmicks), Cards (Gimmicks, etc.) I haven't gotten a chance to record the reactions I get from certain illusions I perform, except I can pretty much remember what the audiences reaction was because I like to perform it more and more after that.


-RA69