I do not mean this article to be a guideline or a solution to the problem. It is just meant to remind you of something which I have seen creep up in magic in recent years. And to give you some food for thought.
We know it from the real world: more and more people mutate into so-called “information junkies”.
What is an information junkie? A person who tries to get his hand on everything he can: books, blogs, videos, podcasts. All done to gain knowledge and to broaden the mind.
There are many reasons for this: some want to be up-to-date on everything, others are just interested, or enjoy being entertained by all this information found.
Then, there are others who are tortured by that gruesome FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
Some very few (the experts) collect and consume information, to use it! Which is the best thing you can do.
In magic, we have the same. Because of the Internet, searching for a specific trick or technique presents you often with dozens of solutions. And, on the beside, also with hundreds of bits of (unnecessary) information that you gather along the way of your research. Distractions are galore!
Add the ever-growing field of magic dealers, who bombard you with their newsletters and their new tricks and wares, and you are lost.
Now we have an increasing number of magic information junkies, but lesser magicians performing well.
The Balance Between Learning and Taking Action
Learning new stuff is great, and – in the beginning – a necessity. But in magic, which is a performing art, taking action and doing the things is a necessity, too (only if you want to perform for real people).
All the books you have read, the videos you watched do not help in fine-tuning your performance. Only practice does this. Doing the tricks or routines, doing the moves (in a routine). Nothing beats real-life experience.
Instead of hunting for the newest twist and gimmick and a gadget for a trick, take a solid solution and learn to do that well. In the course of the practical examination of the trick, you will learn much more than reading twenty books about similar routines. But you can do the routine in real life. And that is important.
Be aware of and accept your information consumption.
The most important step. Always ask yourself “Is this important for me, and will I use it?” If the answer is no, then don’t bother with it and forget it. Have no fear, in case you need it later, chances are something even better will turn up.
If you don’t use it — leave it!
Sounds simple, but it is not. Because there is the ever-present thought: “But — maybe I will or could use that.” Or, even better (because it will never happen) the “This is great! I will remember that and use it sometimes.”
In 95% of cases, this never happens. But you lost the time, energy and, often, money in gaining this information. Information that is useless to you because you don’t use it.
Become an Expert
You call a person an expert because he is well versed in a certain field, knows all the ins and outs, and has great expertise (and experience). What distinguishes him from the well-read amateur is the fact that the expert knows what to do with his knowledge and how to perform with this knowledge. And he knows what he needs to know to perform well.
An expert has developed to skim through loads of information and to extract the relevant information, that he can or must use.
But the most important point here: experts use the information they gather, consume and collect!
You don’t have to learn everything in magic to become an expert, because with an expert I mean: become an expert with the tricks you perform. And if it is only five tricks — wonderful! Then become the master and expert of these five tricks and do them so well as no one has done before.
Construct a Network
A good way to lighten the information load is to build a network of persons who have all the knowledge you may need. In that case, it is much better to ask someone for specific information on a specific topic. The search is quicker, and the results are much more precise. Best, if you ask only for one topic, you will get only answers concerning what you asked for, and it saves you from being distracted by other things when you research the Internet or libraries.
In this blog, I have written some articles on “Cracking Magic”, which could help you define and grow your own personal arsenal of tricks, techniques and magical weapons for your performance. There are tips as well on how to sort out material and keep the archive fresh in no time.
Try to keep the balance between gaining knowledge and bringing it into practice, to heighten your experience. A lot of things will be a lot easier.