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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » The creative process? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

ignoramus
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Hi

My ambition is to create my own mental effects instead of plagiarising other people’s work. As Derren points out in Absolute Magic, this is the only way to go if you want to produce a coherent performance. Inventing my own techniques would be far more enjoyable. However, I have no idea where to start with this.

I have read 13 Steps and half of PMM. Of course I can think of how to adapt the basic methods presented. This is not what I am talking about. I want to invent new methods. This is ambitious, but I would not be the first person on the plant to do so.

My question is this: what process do you go through to achieve this? Do you simply imagine an effect you wish to produce and try to find a good compromise? The overall effect might be to read someone’s mind. For example, they chose one of ten objects and I name that object. The compromise might be that they interact with the object in way which is detectable (e.g. T.A. Waters, box office). If they do not interact with the object then the choice must be forced (E’voque) or the information gathered somehow (from billet).

Whenever I think about something like this, it seems that all the compromises have been thought of already. Perhaps this is because I am thinking of mundane scenarios. I never seem to imagine a new method, only ones which I have read.
How can I break the mold and think creatively? Perhaps there are books on the subject...

Thanks
entity
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I think that Derren was speaking more in terms of presentations, and perhaps of unique ways to combine and utilize principles.

Many of the principles that Derren uses are older ones, but he uses them in often unique ways, or in unique combinations with other principles, and presented in ways not thought of before.

Not everyone is gifted with being able to create new methods, but we can all craft our own presentations and find interesting new ways to use methods that already exist.

- entity
yachanin
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There's a lot to be said for the statement, "Standing on the shoulders of giants." It is (probably) impossible to develop a new method or technique completely unique from everything that has come before. Even the "unique," "never before," and "totally new" methods touted in ads are variations, derivations, spin offs, modifications, etc., etc. of previous works to some extent.

Entity is correct. It is much easier to combine, adapt, and modify existing methods and apply them in new presentations with your own individual style and delivery.

All music is created from a relatively small set of notes. Even so, not all songs that are possible have been written; not all mentalist effects that are possible have been created. Good luck!

By the way, working backward from your goal is a useful strategy.

Regards, Steve
IAIN
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Your displayable skill set
is the effect going to be -
a demonstration
an experiment
premonition
influence etc

how does your skill set illustrate/show n tell whats going to happen
or is it the participants who are going to do it?

whatever you are, that should be the thread that stitches everything else together..

but you can find inspiration from lots of things...

"what if" thinking
films/music/books
old experiments that actually took place

as stated, working backwards is always good...

don't worry about the method when thinking; that'll come later - just think about what you want the audience to experience firstly...

I even occasionally ask friends "hey - if you were watching someone doing 'wierd' stuff, what would really and truly mess with your mind?" that's always good...

sometimes, I find stuff in book and song titles and things too....clive barker's The Great and Secret Show conjurers up lots of evocative images in my mind...as does The ***ation Game...

if you box off your imagination with method and technique, it can be limiting, think about what would fit in with your "show and tell" side of things, and go from there...

recently, I had a little thought - sit someone down and tell them about a mindreader from the 1920s who, though wasnt very well known, but for some reason - everyone you spoke to, had heard of him...his stage name...they couldn't tell you what he did exactly, or even why they remember his name...but everyone you described him to - all said the same name...

so you describe this mind reader to the person, and ask them if they recognise a name from the description - they say no, but they say a name that pops into their head anyway...

there is an envelope on the table that they open, there's a photo of the man described, and it's signed by him too...the exact same name that they just said...

there's at least 3 ways to do it that I immediately thought of, but I've also got an impromptu version out of it, and two others...all easily achievable...

and I can play it as suggestion, predictive or indirect influence...i could even play it as pseudo hypnosis, and ask them to hold an old prop of his...all from a single, basic, simple idea...

just relax and go for it I say...
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Gerry Hennessey
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Abraxus,

Excellent advice.

Hennessey
"Every discipline effects every other discipline. You can't straighten out the corporation if your closet is a mess" Jim Rohn

GerryHennessey.com
Mr. Mindbender
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I can't remember where, but one definition of creativity I've heard is the idea of taking two different ideas and merging them together. When I was in my 20's, I took a one-day creative writing class from Allen Ginsberg. One exercise he had us do was to fold a piece of paper in half. On the left side, we were to write a list of 20 words down the column. Then we had to hand the folded paper to the person next to us, and that person had to write 20 words on the right side of the paper, not being able to see the left side words. Then, you had to open the paper and see the 20 two word combinations -- pick on, and write a short story about it. It was a great exercise, a lot of unexpected stories came from it. Not all good, in fact most in the class weren't, but it's something I always remembered and use when I feel blocked or stuck.

There are endless methods and techniques in mentalism, but what if you mixed it all up, put together two ideas that normally don't pair-up -- what would come of that? Yes, this is putting method before effect, which usually isn't a good way to go, but as an exercise, something could come from it.

I agree with others too, about standing on the shoulders...

Why reinvent just for the sake of reinventing. If you develop something and realize that the simplest, cleanest, most stealth way to accomplish it is with using a billet, there is nothing wrong with that.

I came across this website -- called the Creativity Web. Here is the address...http://members.optusnet.com.au/~charles57/Creative/index2.html

It's not mentalism or magic related (probably a good thing!) but it may get your juices flowing.

One final thought, I got to thinking -- "What is the most creative idea I've ever come across?" It's a long and great list, but on the top I'd have to say that it was Einstein's Theory of Relativity. I've read several books on how he came up with those ideas, and it truly was some original/creative thinking. They were revolutionary ideas, based in a solid foundation of principles, mixed with incredibly unique ways of thinking about those principles.

Not a bad place to start...

:)
Joshua Quinn
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First, I agree with entity that how you present yourself and what your audience perceives are more important considerations than methods. But having said that, I enjoy coming up with new methods too. The best advice I can offer is, develop a genuine curiosity about the world around you (outside of magic) and how it works. A great many methods (I'm even tempted to say "most," though I couldn't back it up) did not start life as magic methods; they started as a way to do something else, or maybe even just a byproduct of some process, until someone thought of a way to use them for our purposes. Legend has it that NWs were originally used to rig elections by surreptitiously marking ballots.

I have a blurb that I've used in performances, explaining to the audience that the things they see me do aren't something I learned from any one source, but a synthesis of ideas I've gleaned and pieced together myself over the years from a lot of different areas that interest me, including psychology, mathematics, linguistics, physics, chemistry, conjuring, anatomy, astronomy, hypnosis, theater, and even music performance and theory. And it's not a line of BS; every single one of those fields has contributed something that helps me to do what I do. Some of them contribute more to presentation than method, but that line is often blurry, and is kind of beside the point anyway.

The book I'm working on now will have a couple methods which, as far as I know, have never been used in mentalism or magic before. I don't mean they've never been used to accomplish the particular effects that I use them for; I mean they've never been used for anything in mystery entertainment. Of course I may well find out I'm wrong, just like I did when the method behind my Conjunction effect turned out to be well over a hundred years old, but that's beside the point. The point is, I would never have come up with either of them by thinking about mentalism or magic. I came up with them by learning about things that interest me, paying attention to the things I learn, and thinking about how they relate to things I already know. Do that for a while, and eventually you start to see patterns and make connections that others may not have noticed before.
Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution. Unfortunately every problem also contains the seeds of an infinite number of non-solutions, so that first part really isn't super helpful.
Mik
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Abraxus that is good advice and I am thinking of ways to acheive the effect you described. Stuff like that gets the creative juices flowing and sometimes some good stuff is the result.

Some good advice and pointers from other members too.
From the mind of Mik
Jerome Finley
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Quote:
On 2008-03-08 18:29, Quinn wrote:
First, I agree with entity that how you present yourself and what your audience perceives are more important considerations than methods. But having said that, I enjoy coming up with new methods too. The best advice I can offer is, develop a genuine curiosity about the world around you (outside of magic) and how it works. A great many methods (I'm even tempted to say "most," though I couldn't back it up) did not start life as magic methods; they started as a way to do something else, or maybe even just a byproduct of some process, until someone thought of a way to use them for our purposes. Legend has it that NWs were originally used to rig elections by surreptitiously marking ballots.

I have a blurb that I've used in performances, explaining to the audience that the things they see me do aren't something I learned from any one source, but a synthesis of ideas I've gleaned and pieced together myself over the years from a lot of different areas that interest me, including psychology, mathematics, linguistics, physics, chemistry, conjuring, anatomy, astronomy, hypnosis, theater, and even music performance and theory. And it's not a line of BS; every single one of those fields has contributed something that helps me to do what I do. Some of them contribute more to presentation than method, but that line is often blurry, and is kind of beside the point anyway.

The book I'm working on now will have a couple methods which, as far as I know, have never been used in mentalism or magic before. I don't mean they've never been used to accomplish the particular effects that I use them for; I mean they've never been used for anything in mystery entertainment. Of course I may well find out I'm wrong, just like I did when the method behind my Conjunction effect turned out to be well over a hundred years old, but that's beside the point. The point is, I would never have come up with either of them by thinking about mentalism or magic. I came up with them by learning about things that interest me, paying attention to the things I learn, and thinking about how they relate to things I already know. Do that for a while, and eventually you start to see patterns and make connections that others may not have noticed before.


A wonderful post for many reasons. Thank you Quinn!

-JF
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MrHyde
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Investing in something like Michael Michalko's book Thinkertoys will give you a lifetime of tools to accelerate the creative process.

Michalko catalogued every known Creative Thinking tool he could discover and presents them in a highly entertaining manner.

I hesitate to nominate the best for magicians, but you would be well rewarded looking at the SCAMPER tool, (developed from Alex Osbornes ideas), The Idea box and various Random input Methods.

There's a bunch of links on the resource page of my commercial website http://www.timothyhyde.com and I link to quite a few on my blog, access via site.

timothy
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