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Topic: No focus...
Message: Posted by: allen_m (Oct 16, 2008 08:54AM)
As I have gotten back into magic after decades away, it is almost as if I have become more of a collector, rather than a magician. I have bought dozens and dozens of dvd's, effects, books, gaffed coins, silver coins, decks of cards, and on and on...

At first I thought I would direct my energy on card routines. For a while, I did. Now, only a couple of months later, I'm not sure I can remember one card trick. On to coins. With gaffs. Without Gaffs. Back to gaffs. Bobo's book. A dozen DVD's. Downloads from the internet. Too much instructional material seems to be a distraction. I can't seem to focus on any one trick long enough to perfect it before being distracted by the next new DVD or effect. And when I think I have a simple effect down, and try it out for my wife? Never really the same as when I practiced. She's a tough audience. Know's too much about magic. I get frustrated- move to another effect. I have a lifetime of tools and instructional material in front of me and can't seem to organize my own path through it.

Am I alone in this? Any suggestions??


Message: Posted by: Jaz (Oct 16, 2008 06:50PM)
Not alone.

What you might try doing is deciding how you want people to see you.
Do you want them to see you as a joker, a sleight of hand artist, a streetwise guy who knows about gambling and scam, someone with a gift of mental magic, a storyteller, a romantic, etc.
Pick character close to your true personnae, find routine that might relate and go with those. Write them down as you find them. Organize them into an act.

That don't necessarily mean that when you perform for different audiences that you can't be someone knowledgable in card cheating in one act and a person with the gift of mental magic in another.
Message: Posted by: allen_m (Oct 16, 2008 09:12PM)
Thanks for the advice. Part of the problem is I admire things that take skill and are not self-working; and, I am also impatient. Maddening combination, really.

Time, and diligence will help me sort it out, I am sure.

Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Oct 16, 2008 10:52PM)
I would agree with Jazz. Also it sounds like you are simply trying to learn way too much magic at once. You can only do so much magic. I've been at it over 50 years and probably haven't learned 10% of what is out there yet.

Also, it is easy to get distracted when the kind of practice we do is wrong. Practice can be very delusional. That is we can fool ourselves that we are doing good when we are not. I wasted a lot of time practicing wrong for years. Took me about 40 years to figure it all out.

There is a book by one of the Café members, Gerald Edmunson, Gerald on the forums, called "The Ostrich Factor". Best book on practice I ever read, and I recommend it to a lot of people, all who I have recommended it to who have given me feedback swear by it. He covers what it took me 40 years to learn.

It is available from http://theostrichfactor.com/abouttheauthor.htm

Well worth a read.
Message: Posted by: allen_m (Oct 16, 2008 11:32PM)
Thanks for pointing me towards the book-
Sounds like it might just be the ticket for me!

Message: Posted by: ehands (Oct 23, 2008 04:42PM)
On 2008-10-16 23:52, Father Photius wrote:
"The Ostrich Factor" Best book on practice...covers what it took me 40 years to learn.
[/quote] That is gospel!
Message: Posted by: ttorres (Jan 4, 2009 12:04PM)
Allen I was in a similar situation. While going through a bitter divorce I lost my entire library (books and videos) along my collection of magic. At the time I was a full time professional with a great ratio of repeat business. Now I never got completely out of magic but I stopped performing. This went on for about seven years until I came to my senses and realized that magic was as much a part of me as the need to breath. It was at that point I started looking for ways to perform for real people. Because I knew that this was the best way to get my chops back. Restaurants were out of the question now that I have a full time day job and I was looking for something right away.

I settled on busking. It gives me the freedom work as much as I want when ever I want. But most of all it allows me to perform magic for real people over and over again and that is the only way to get good.
Message: Posted by: allen_m (Sep 4, 2009 06:47PM)
Ten months after I started this thread I ordered Gerald Edmundson's book, "The Ostrich Factor".

Wish I'd done it when it was first recommended to me. So far, I think it will be a big help.

I may be a little slow; but, I still get there...

Message: Posted by: Mark Boody Illusionist (Sep 5, 2009 12:56PM)
I totally agree that THE OSTRICH FACTOR is a great book. You may also want to check out MAXIMUM ENTERTAINMENT by Ken Weber. We all know enough tricks, let's work on entertaining our audiences.

Message: Posted by: Gerald (Sep 19, 2009 07:36AM)
Thanks fellows for your comments about my book. Mark, I most certainly agree. MAXIMUM ENTERTAINMENT by Ken Weber is a GREAT book.

Thanks again!
Message: Posted by: jeffdell (Sep 20, 2009 08:49AM)
Hi Allen,

I'm also in a similar situation. After a 20+ year hiatus from practicing magic I have found myself getting back into it. As you have said, there is an overwhelming urge to work on something for a bit and then move on to the next effect\routine\etc, even if the very thing I've been working on hasn't been mastered. Today ambitious card, tomorrow coins across, and the next day cups and balls! This gets quite expensive as I've developed a collection of half read books, and half watched DVDs! Particularly since each one of these effects could be the basis of a very strong routine :).

The biggest thing that has helped me focus is what Jaz had said about finding an angle\character\presentation style to work on. I'm still able to work on the effects themself but I'm able to try and practice "in character" rather than just practicing slights\tricks. Hope this helps!

Message: Posted by: Mr. Mystoffelees (Oct 6, 2009 07:17AM)
I have the same problem- we should start a club!

The one thing that helps me the most, is to schedule a performance. Once I know that I will be stage front at some specific date (allowing enough time to prepare) I quit wasting my time and start serious focused practice...
Message: Posted by: supra97 (Nov 5, 2009 07:21PM)
Im having the same problem exactly as you guys, This website doesn't help, everytime I see something new, I have to get it. I hope this book is the last thing ill have to get for awhile. lol
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Nov 5, 2009 08:13PM)
I often write a list of the things I want to pursue.

It is unrealistically long, so, I decide what I would use it for and when that might come up.

What show is coming up next?

I like to practice several things in shifts but not more than 5 at a time. 5 is more than plenty.

It takes a while longer but if you are vigilant in your practice eventually all 5 get better and your need to jump around is fulfilled.

-Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: Gerald (Jan 30, 2013 05:41AM)
Father Photius,
Thanks again and again for your recommendation for The Ostrich Factor. I do appreciate it! The link given above is no longer active. This is the active link for information about the book:


Thanks again, Father!

Best regards,
Message: Posted by: Soniczjx (Dec 13, 2015 02:22AM)
I kind of have the same question. I always want to buy magic books, I know I cannot read all of them, but sometimes those good books just out of print and need to spend much more to get them, so I always try to get magic books as much as I can. Ah, magic is an expensive hobby.