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Topic: Creativity
Message: Posted by: Bob_Hummer (Jul 16, 2010 06:08AM)
Hey Tyler,

I know you are a fan of super creative people like Elmsley, Walton, Jordan and Paul Harris. So - as a creative guy yourself - do you think creativity is something you are born with, or do you think it is something you can learn (or maybe improve on)?

I have heard lots of people give lots of advice on how to be creative (I would be interested in your thoughts there as well). But - I do think people are too optimistic when giving advice on this topic. To put it in concrete terms do you really think it is possible for someone to learn to be as creative/inventive as say Paul Harris?

And if you think not wouldn't that suggest that creativity is something you are born with? And can't really be improved upon? And as such people like me will be forever condemned to reinventing old Stewart J. Smith effects instead of coming up with good! :)

All the best,

Joe Mckay
Message: Posted by: Tyler Wilson (Jul 17, 2010 12:05PM)
Hey Joe,
You want to be like Paul Harris? The only hard part would be finding the necessary 27 kilos of LSD. The rest takes care of itself.

Creativity seems to be massively misunderstood. People tend to think of it as a tangible thing, floating around in the ether. And only - if only - you could reach out and grab some, then you'd have it made!

But creativity isn't a "thing;" it's a process, and a simple one at that. It can be broken down into just two steps:

- Noticing things

- Writing them down

That's it!

So, what kinds of things should you be noticing? Anything! Everything! Paying attention to details will produce marvelous insights. How many thousands of magicians do you think held a break under the top card of a deck before someone noticed, "Hey, inserting a card into the break looks like it's going deeper into the deck!" But you don't have to notice things specifically with your magic or your props, just go around enjoying your beautiful life with your eyes and ears wide open. Maybe you notice that every time you light an ant ablaze with a magnifying glass, they try to escape by running in a clockwise circle. I smell a prediction effect! (Or maybe that's the burning ant stench.) Maybe you notice that all your groceries move in unison on the cashier's conveyor belt. Not a big deal, right? But what if that inspires you to think of an effect where you ask the super hot chicky-poo in front of you to point to any item in your lump of groceries (prime opportunity to have Trojan Magnums in there), and once the conveyor belt starts moving, all the groceries go along for the ride, except the one item she points to, which is magically staying put exactly where it is (or the opposite, where everything stays put except the one item she chose, which is moving along nicely).

But creativity isn't just about developing entirely new plots or methods. There is NOTHING different than thinking of the grocery store effect above, or thinking that you don't want to use a Side Steal in the trick you just learned, and substitute a Panoramic Shift instead (whether or not such alterations should be published is another topic altogether.). They both consist of you noticing an opportunity or a problem, and acting on it.

There have been several essays and books written on creativity (Fitzkee's The Trick Brain possibly being the worst book ever conceived), but it really just boils down to those two points above. Some people (like Fitzkee) suggest forcing it with some type of formula (swapping one prop for another, etc.), but that creates a wholly uninspired piece that's, well... formulaic. I strongly suggest staying away from techniques like this.

The second step of creativity is just as important as the first: write it down! You don't have to go into detail like you're explaining it in a book, but just get the idea onto paper/video as soon as humanly possible because you WILL forget it! I can't even tell you how many times I've thought of something, said, "Holy Allah! This is the most amazing thing I've ever come up with. It's going to revolutionize magic and the entire petting zoo industry. There's no way I'll ever forget this gem!" and then promptly forget it later that day, much to the chagrin of those poor kids who are stuck with goats and sheep.

You never know when you're going to notice something or come up with an idea, so I always make notes in my phone. Just recently though, my phone fell in a lake! I was so distraught because there were TONS of ideas in there that I just wouldn't be able to get back. I finally fished my phone out, but it was obviously broken. I spent a few hundy getting it fixed, but it was WELL worth it getting that information back. Moral of the story, write it down AND back it up!

Joe, you said you reinvented a Stewart J. Smith trick? How is that not creative?! Just because someone came up with it first, doesn't change the creative process you went through to develop the trick in the first place. Creating and crediting are two COMPLETELY different things. Don't let someone else's work validate your thought process.

I've probably run my keyboard a bit too much on this topic, but just realize this Joe: don't wish you were creative, understand that you already ARE creative. ALL human beings are. Sure, some seem to have a more predisposed mindset to it, but that doesn't mean the rest of us can't have just as much fun burning ants in the process.

Tyler Wilson
Message: Posted by: scottsheltonmagic (Jul 17, 2010 12:20PM)
Here are a couple of other good threads on being creative:




Message: Posted by: Dorian Rhodell (Jul 17, 2010 02:23PM)

Would you say that creativity is necessarily a good thing?


Dorian Rhodell
Message: Posted by: Donny Orbit (Jul 17, 2010 07:39PM)
That reminds me of the scene in Sherlock Holmes where Sherlock is quiet obviously strung out and notices that the lightning bugs move in unison when a certain note is played, only to have Watson let them free.

Sherlock is historically remembered for noticing the little things....
and the difference in ordinary and extraordinary is the little extra.

Message: Posted by: Tyler Wilson (Jul 18, 2010 02:06AM)
Hey Dorian,
That's a great question, but a little like asking if cooking is necessarily a good thing. The results can be amazing, or they can be devastating (just try my mom's spinach souffle, yuck!).

The magic world tends to view creativity as a good thing, sometimes using it as a compliment ("Hey, that was SO creative!"), and if I'm not wrong, it's even used as a criterion for competitions (I don't enter them, but I believe you get points for creativity). So whether it's because our craft is no stranger to imitation and rip offs, it's clear that we tend to view creativity as a positive thing. But no, it's not necessarily so. Creativity is NOT a replacement for quality. Something still has to be GOOD before we ever worry about the creative aspect.

I come up with an embarrassing amount of bad ideas (I have a method in my notebooks for a moving belly button). But the only way to come up with good ideas is to come up with LOTS of ideas. We all have ideas every day, so just write them down, weed out the bad ones, and you'll be left with some pure, unadulterated gold. There's no trick to it. I'm not a "creative guy;" I'm just a normal guy who writes stuff down. That's it.

Tyler Wilson
Message: Posted by: Bob_Hummer (Jul 18, 2010 04:30PM)
Thanks for the great response!

Your advice is really good. I am glad you have helped demystify such a scary looking word. Your tips will be of use as well. A little bit of effort each day should add up to something interesting.

I guess a small difference over a long period will make a big difference...

I read a lot of magic books and I wonder if they can make you intellectually lazy. It is so much easier to cherry pick the good ideas of others that it is to come up with your own from scratch. I wonder if other book lovers ever get that feeling as well?

Thanks once again, Tyler!

Message: Posted by: rich aviles (Jul 21, 2010 10:12AM)
Sound advice, Tyler. A similar sentiment was given by comedian Demitri Martin recently that I found interesting. Pasted below:

"It seems that people who make things are often remembered for the best things that they made. So, if I like Monty Python, what I know the most are my favorite sketches, and if I like the Beatles, itís probably because of my favorite songs of theirs. In a weird way, it seems like time is really kind to the person who makes a lot of things, because as time goes on, the best things seem to float to the top and those are the ones that people notice. What I extract from that is, to just make as much stuff as possible and donít be self conscious about the quality of it. As long as youíre learning along the way, and you donít stop making stuff, it seems like you have more chances of making the good stuff that kind of floats to the top Ö It seems like volume is the answer. Ö Itís not the deepest thing, but I have found that if I just really make a lot of stuff, then I regret less."

If interested, you can find the full Q&A here: http://www.pegasusnews.com/news/2010/jul/16/comedian-demetri-martin/

Rich Aviles
Message: Posted by: JIMclubber64 (Jul 21, 2010 11:00AM)
On 2010-07-18 03:06, Tyler Wilson wrote:
I come up with an embarrassing amount of bad ideas (I have a method in my notebooks for a moving belly button). [/quote]

What?? You think this is a bad idea?! ;)

Could you tell us more about this? Why is it a bad idea? Because the method you have is unusable, or is the plot just ridiculous? (personally, I think a moving belly button could be one of the most amazing effects ever!)
Is really a "moving" belly button, or just a "vanish"? (some potential for an "I'm really an alien!" presentation there)
Most importantly, under what circumstances would you actually perform this if you had a workable method? What if you got a gig soley because of this effect and the host wanted you to perform it as much as possible?
Message: Posted by: Tyler Wilson (Jul 21, 2010 03:11PM)
Hey JIMclubber64,
You asked for it:

I've got a chest that bears are jealous of. It's got enough hair to feed homeless people. Wait, that doesn't really make sense. Anyway, I've noticed that it still forms the proverbial treasure trail down to below the belt. I'm not sure why, whether it's the direction of hair growth (like cowlicks or something), or whether it's my clothing that scrunches up the hair consistently to form the trail, but whatever it is, there's a definite defined trail. No big deal, right?

Well, my trail just happens to be off-center. It starts from above the belly button, but about an inch or more to the left, and heads straight south. This looks remarkably like my belly button is off-center, not the trail. But the thing is, I can comb my stomach hair so the trail is going straight down the center like any normal bloke. So the method idea is to start off with the normal looking trail, so my belly button looks copacetic, and then somehow surreptitiously getting the trail to go back to its natural state. It looks just like the belly button moved.

Maybe Theory11 are interested?

On a related note for my hairy brethren, you can comb your stomach hair into a six-pack for quick results without having to hit the gym.

Tyler Wilson
Message: Posted by: JIMclubber64 (Jul 21, 2010 06:07PM)
Now THAT'S creative! Highly disturbing, yes, but creative.

On 2010-07-21 16:11, Tyler Wilson wrote:
Maybe Theory11 are interested?

I don't know, they could be. Question is, would off-center chest hair be included with the instructional dvd? Hmm....