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Regular user
Humble, Texas
116 Posts

Profile of LR2
I kinda keep a notebook. I really should use it more. Whenever usually just write down effects that I come up with.
Patrick Differ
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Inner circle
1540 Posts

Profile of Patrick Differ
I keep notebooks for scripts...notebooks for performance diaries...index cards for completed tricks with notes on the back side...paperclips on the index cards for completed routines...and they're all hand-written.

Fifteen or so years ago, I worked out a neat script for an effect. Then I put magic on the back burner to raise a family. Last year I went back to it, and, oddly enough, still liked the script. Darn glad I kept it.

One would be crazy not to...
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
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Veteran user
Havant, England
322 Posts

Profile of ziatro
In chapter 8 of 'The magic of Michael Ammar' there is a whole chapter devoted to magic management which not only covers note taking but much much more. Well worth reading.
Gary Kruse
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Regular user
Colorado Springs
146 Posts

Profile of Gary Kruse
I'm starting to keep a notebook because I've noticed that the things I constantly did 1, 2, and 3 years ago have been forgotten about. I'm thinking that I don't want to lose what I've learned and enjoyed just because I've learned something new. I don't want to replace my effects, I want to add to them.
Jonathan P.
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Inner circle
1483 Posts

Profile of Jonathan P.
I have notes about the tricks I know, with different categories.
1) the tricks are classified by "cards" ("gaff"/"impromptu"), "coins", "misc."...
2) the tricks are classified by "table-hopping" (me standing-up, they sitting at the table), "all seated", "walk-around", formal show...

I try to review those lists now and then... Sometimes I delete a trick (rare) but I put the ones I want to perform on a regular basis ont the top. These are just the names of the trick with the references of the book (or video) where they come from. If they are mine or adapted by myself, I refer to another document in which I wrote the exact handling.

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Inner circle
1260 Posts

Profile of Magicsquared
I use file cards. One for each trick. I find it to be the easiest way to add and remove tricks from my practice regimen. You can shuffle them up and deal yourself three or five cards and those can be the effects you practice that night (that's how I do it).
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Veteran user
The District
357 Posts

Profile of Diavo
I have a nice notebook (journal style) which I write down all the tricks/cuts/flourishes/sleights I & my friends have created, plus certain favorites from notes, books, and DVDs I don't own but have learned. In the corner of each page I draw an icon indicating if it's something other than a card trick (ie, a pic of 2 coins, a clock, a zippo, a pen, a coiled rope, etc). I include sketches of hands handling cards/objects to easy the description process. I always put "by..." for proper credit and I date everything I've created.

Most of the tricks in this notebook that I exclusively have created I've been typing into a .doc file to be converted to a .pdf -- a standard magic e-book format. That lets me get more organized (paper & pen are so permanent) and rewrite it more clearly.

For rough ideas I have a small notepad which I scribble ideas and sketches for later refinement.
I'm not just a magician, I'm an interpreter of Reality.
Underground, above ground, whatever. I don't need a label, thanks.
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Veteran user
317 Posts

Profile of GaryW
I have to go with weapon on the Technology!

I have an Access database that I'm still in the process of putting everything I know into. Easy to search as well as catalog my knowledge, gimmicks, etc.
Gary Ailes
Hot Shot Magic
Cameron Francis
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7025 Posts

Profile of Cameron Francis
I have a Word document that lists almost every trick I learn. I also make notations of gaffs required, etc.

Need to update it, though.

I also have a separate journal document where I write down trick and presentational ideas as they come to me.
MOMENT'S NOTICE LIVE 3 - Six impromptu card tricks! Out now!
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New user
73 Posts

Profile of bigdw1
"The Ostrich Effect" by Gerald Edmundson talks about storyboarding tricks in notebooks. I think I'll start keeping my notebook with me more.
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New user
73 Posts

Profile of bigdw1
"The Ostrich Effect" by Gerald Edmundson talks about storyboarding tricks in notebooks. I think I'll start keeping my notebook with me more.
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Inner circle
2020 Posts

Profile of JSBLOOM
I also keep a SOP ( standard Operating procedures) for tricks.
LI am getting 2 old to leave it to memory.
If I watch a DVD, I'll write one up to review later.
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Veteran user
321 Posts

Profile of Gerald
Thank you, bigdw1 for the comments about The Ostrich Factor. For those who might be interested in the book, you can read the reviews at my web site.

Thanks again, bigdw1!

Father Photius
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Grammar Host
El Paso, TX (Formerly Amarillo)
17198 Posts

Profile of Father Photius
I used to keep elaborate notebooks full of how to, moves, patter, etc. Much like Dai Vernon once commented, years later when I went back through them, I couldn't make heads or tails out of my notes. Then I went to a storyboard sort of thing like in Gerald's book. I've been able to keep track of that. With my many years of doing magic, actual method no longer is important, I can figure out a number of ways to produce any effect, but the storyboard really helps me remember the routine and recreate it if I want to, plus it is an excellent way of honing ur presentation. As I found the audience reacted well or not so well to some part of the effect, I could go back to the storyboard and work on it. To be honest I do not own Gerald's book, I have glanced through a copy belonging to another magician, I made a mental note to buy one, but never did. Guess I ought to go to his site now and remedy that. It is a good book from what I saw.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
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Regular user
126 Posts

Profile of Jean-Denis
What happens if you ever lose your precious notes:

Last year I was in a TAXI car and lost there my big spiral book of all of my 15 years or earlier notes and magic plans. I thought I had just lost my magic life there in that taxi until I realized that the fact that I had WRITTEN all this magic stuff was the most important thing, as I could later recall most of what I had written without having my notes anymore. It's like studying an exam: The key element is to WRITE and you'll remember more easily.

Fortunately during last year I could re-write almost everything important that I could remember and now I keep everything on PC and burn CD's when necessary.

As you know, a magician can get ideas almost in any situation where you don't necessarily have your notebook with you. But if you always have a notebook with you, it is so easy to lose it by your own misdirection.

That's why after my taxi experience I developed for myself a simple mnemonic system for quick magic ideas that I use during the day. When I get home I write everything on file. This make sure I won't forget nothing nowhere anymore.

Beleive me, you don't want to lose all your thoughts and sketches in some unknown hands. My old notes were containing screenshots of magic performances I did and I know I will never find them again.
John Long
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Inner circle
New Jersey
2822 Posts

Profile of John Long
I ask a question like this a while back(
and got very few responses, I guess its all how you ask.

I like to look at information on a real piece of paper, yet it is too difficult to modify, correct, reorganize; so I use my computer to take and keep notes, and then print out as needed.

First Method - Excel
I created a table of contents on a single sheet w/i Excel, and use Excel's built in hot linking to link to the sheets that contain the specific information. Each sheet would be dedicated to a specific type of effect: penetrations, animation, appear/disappear, cut/restore, and separte sheets for coins, cards, rope, recommendations, ideas... Each sheet has a hot link back to the TOC. I also use a commercial Excel add on("Advanced Excel Find") that allows me to perform searches *across* all worksheets - very useful.

To describe tricks, the first row contains the name, and a brief description. The details are described in subsequent rows. Within each row I use separate columns to describe the different functions: generic description of what is happening, right hand & left hand actions, and patter. I use Excel's built in outlining capability to collapse rows of the details to make it easier to scan.

I've downloaded many video clips of tricks and added hot links to them. Thus if I want to see someone do a back clip, or what a certain handling looks like, I just hit the hot-link I created.

Method 2 - A true database
The problem with the Excel approach is that many tricks fall into multiple categories. Should I list a cut & restore rope trick under Rope or cut and restore? or both. With a true database I can have the same information appear in multiple places without having to retype it. This is great for wanting to create a performance "play-list", or just collecting ideas and adding order to it latter.

I've tried two programs for this, Lotus Agenda(a DOS based program), and Ecco Pro. Both can be obtained for free over the internet. I've used Agenda for years and really like its database/categorizing features. Although it seems a bit limited for what I've done in Excel(yet I did find a handy way to get it to launch the video clips), I find it good for brainstorming, collecting little tidbits, categorizing them multiple ways, and then going back latter to piece the ideas together into a usefull effect.

Breathtaking Magic;
Not Breath Taking
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Loyal user
Danbury, Connecticut
212 Posts

Profile of Fiddling-Steve
I have a list basically, separated into possible routines.
Stick to the classics,

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Inner circle
NJ, U.S.
6112 Posts

Profile of Jaz
I have lists all over the place, sort of.
Trick I know best.
List of totally impromptu tricks.
List of seemingly impromptu tricks.
List of prepared strolling tricks where minimal working surface is available.
Formal table tricks.

Besides this I am currently using the above lists to create sets.
I'm trying to get several effects with a minimum of props.

The idea here is that if I start with two dollar bills for Ghost Bills I will use at least one bill for continuing the set.
Solutions may be Traveling Cash (w/elastic) or Pen thru Bill and ending with a Bill Switch.
So what I am trying to do is find several tricks with dollar bills and incorporate them into sets in some way.

Another set idea was with keys.
Coin to Key, Link Key (commercial) and somehow moving into Florida Keys.

I've also listed a set of tricks with a finger ring and will be working with other objects.

This list will also allow me to see what props I use and if, for instance, I can move gracfully from dollar bill effects to elastic tricks as both are used in Traveling Cash.

Important for me too is not to present all one type of effect like all penetrations.

Well that's my nutty lists.

I just realized that this is a card topic.
Yes, I am doing the lists with cards too.
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Veteran user
321 Posts

Profile of Gerald
Thanks, Photius for the comment about The Ostrich Factor. Usually, storyboard type notes jog the memory so that you can write a detailed description later if you have the need. Many times, we don’t have time to write detailed descriptions, but we certainly don't want to forget the ideas. The storyboard approach is a good way to organize and outline our thoughts. Glad we agree!

Thanks again!

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