Become a Better Magician
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That’s it — an entire month of daily magic essays.
I hope you’re happy.
I’ve always been a big believer in forced creativity.
When I left school, I knew I wanted to write television shows but knew no one who worked in television and no one who lived in London.
I noticed five magic television shows in production at the time. This was a lot of productions for quite a niche genre. I’d been interested in magic since I was a kid and paid close attention to TV magic as it blended my two interests.
These two young guys, Calen Morelli and Blake Vogt were only a few years older than I was. They worked as magic consultants and travelled the world on these magic shows. Doing what they did seemed more in reach than trying to find work as a production runner and working my way up the job ladder — it also seemed more fun.
I posted an original magic trick on Instagram every day. People thought I was mad. I was lucky, I might add, as it was the early days on Instagram. Only a few of my friends were on there. Videos needed to be square, twelve seconds long and with no cuts.
Short visual magic tricks were not so much of a thing back then — I looked everywhere and only found a few in the shops, like coin bites and self-tying shoelaces. I think I was praised for being early more so than being creative.
The videos of me performing stiff rope with a dog lead, turning a voucher into money in a shop and making a chocolate bar appear from nowhere would all be a bit ‘meh’ if I posted them today. But back then, they felt totally new.
After 298 days, I stopped posting daily videos and joined Dynamo’s creative team at a time when Dynamo was literally on the face of every Pepsi can. His face replaced Beyoncé on all their bottles, ads, and cans. Wild.
Getting hired had much to do with coming to London for a week to cat sit for Ollie Mealing, who I met via the Instagram magic videos, and buying everyone I could meet a meal. One of those people was Harry De Cruz, who led Dynamo’s team. Harry chose Nando’s, and so I bought him the most important Nando’s meal of my life.
Work hard. Make friends.
It’s all you can do.
Talent helps — but it’s not crucial.
Earlier this year, I shared a brief meal with Nate Staniforth. We met on a British TV project several years ago, and I have always valued his kindness. We talked about writing. How I can sometimes struggle with the fact that I’m still writing on magic shows. I love magic shows, but I would be lying if I pretended I didn’t get into magic television in hopes that I could one day write my own thing, and the one day is not here yet.
Nate is a gentle, talented and mindful human.
There’s a reason he’s Derren Brown’s favourite magician.
Nate shared his thoughts on how love for magic can come and go like an old friend and how he carved out time to write his book, Here Is Real Magic.
I wanted that carved-out time.
My Dad tells me:
‘Writing is a disciplined pursuit.’
I’m starting to understand what he means.
I heard Seinfeld say something on a podcast:
‘The reward for writing is being done.’
I know the feeling. People will ask me why I like writing. The truth is I don’t. No one does. In 1903 Thomas Mann wrote in his novel:
“A writer is one to whom writing comes harder than to anybody else.”
Seinfeld tried to write one joke every morning as a healthy writing habit. His only rule for his daily writing sessions is simple:
‘You don’t have to write, but you can’t do anything else.’
So I just landed in Portugal.
I’ll be here for a few months.
I have carved out time to write.
Magic Musings was my way of forcing a daily habit in anticipation of my arrival here. It’s been productive. My writing has improved, and I am much less reluctant to sit and do nothing else but write each day.
When it comes to magic, this month forced me to streamline and boil down my magical opinions. I’ve realised how important it is to step back and ask questions about your magic and put yourself firmly in your audience's shoes. I’ve rekindled a passion for psychology, which I intend to explore further.
Finally, I’ve learned more than ever to appreciate this community of readers. You are intelligent, passionate and thoughtful humans. I’m lucky to have found an arena where I can share unfinished thoughts, hyper-niche insights and sometimes unhinged opinions. Your support gives me the freedom to carve out time in ways I could never have done before.
Perhaps I’ll do these daily essays again next September.
For now, I’ll write to you on Thursday.