Since I started producing magic tricks magicians have been asking me what my creative process is. I never really considered my "creative process" before getting asked this question. So, I went back and took a look at what I had done to produce tricks like Redemption and the Shark.
At first glance, it looked pretty random. Some tricks I came up with a plot and built a method around that; others, I built a cool prototype or concept and had no idea what to do with it. In either case, the goal was to think up how to make my half-concocted idea into a full, usable routine.
So how does that happen?
I think the best thing is to study as much as possible so that you always have that data in the back of your mind. Then, don't force an idea to hard. If you get stuck, move on to something else and let your subconscious mind work out the problem.
In almost every trick I've released, I've gotten stumped (usually more than once) and I've set the trick aside only to come back to the project with a new outlook. I hadn't been consciously thinking about it, but in the back of my mind the wheels had still been turning.
When moving into our new warehouse, we had all of this in mind. The very first thing that we put up in the office was a dart board. As far back as I have been creating magic, I have played darts when working out an issue. I'm not very good at darts, but for some reason, it is just the right amount of distraction to allow my subconscious mind to go to town on a complex problem.
The lounge area of Magic Geek is a lot of fun. You can find my guitars on either side of our 60" flat screen. Playing music is another thing that I'm not very good at, but focusing on it helps me work out problems without getting frustrated.
This shot also shows something else that I used to distract myself. The guitar on the left was designed and built by one of our former employees, Aidan and myself. It is covered in bits of playing card and the shape of the tuning head was inspired by the back design of a Bicycle playing card. Building and designing something can be another excellent way to keep your mind working without blocking your thought process.
I feel like I should point out that the TV is not a good way to work out a problem. Neurologists have found that watching TV decreases brain activity even more than sleeping. We never watch the TV during work hours and it's really just there for webcam meetings and such.
Another fun activity at the Magic Geek offices is the Ms. Pacman Machine. Not only was it a fun project to refurbish this table-top style arcade game, but it serves as a healthy two-person distraction.
By using a multi-player game, we can promote bonding between employees while stimulating the puzzle-solving areas of our brain.
The latest installment at the Magic Geek head-offices is a half-court basketball set-up. This serves the same function as the Ms. Pacman Machine, while also promoting physical activity. This results in higher brain function and healthier employees. Win-win.
The custom basketball key on the floor was painted by myself and was another great opportunity for my brain to do some problem solving.
To some, this may look like distractions that are all fun and games, but the reality is that these things help make Magic Geek a better place to work and do business with. Throughout history, some of the most creative and successful companies and individuals have used things like puzzles, building blocks, Zen rock gardens and other "distractions" to keep momentum going on the projects that really mattered.
Now, I'm not saying that to create magic tricks you need to convert a room in your house into a basketball court. I am suggesting that by finding a healthy distraction from a difficult problem that you are trying to solve helps your subconscious mind put the puzzle pieces together.
At some point you need to force yourself to stop with the distractions and focus on completing the project you started initially, but usually these breaks make it easier to pick up where you left off with a fresh new outlook.
But it won't work if you don't already have the information floating around somewhere in the back of your mind; so first you must study, study, study. Then you can build that basketball court in your basement.