Creating Magic Tricks – Are you Stuck?

Are you creating magic tricks or do you find yourself stuck with a pile of unfinished ideas? Since this is a problem that plagues almost every magic creator, we thought we would share an awesome article from Jessica Abel’s blog that addresses the issue of ‘Idea Debt’.

Then we asked our Conjuror Community Coaches for their reactions to the article, from a magician’s perspective.

Jessica’s ideas get to the heart of the problem and provide useful solutions to get you unstuck!  Here’s what Jessica has to say about:

Idea Debt

Idea Debt is when you spend too much time picturing what a project is going to be like, too much time thinking about how awesome it will be to have this thing done and in the world, too much time imagining how cool you will look, how in demand you’ll be, how much money you’ll make. And way too little time actually making the thing.


  • You tell 15 friends about your screenplay idea, but devote zero time in your week to facing the blank screen.
  • You buy a domain name, spend weeks or months researching and reading up on how to build a website, but you don’t actually install WordPress.
  • You have a drawer full of half-finished stories and novels and a to-do list item every week that reads, “work on writing.”
  • You’ve read 15 free online guides to blogging, built three editorial calendars, have notes on a dozen posts, but you haven’t gone live with your blog.
  • You have “binders of lore” and no book.

…you’re living with serious Idea Debt.

Read the rest of the blog at

Creating Magic Tricks – Getting Unstuck

Creating Magic Tricks can be hard work! Since many of our Conjuror Community members and coaches are active creators of magic tricks, we wanted to get their reactions to Jessica’s article.  Here are some their insightful thoughts…

create tricks with magic


creating magic tricks“Binders and binders of… lore”.  My favourite (that’s Canadian for favorite) thing about this article is that it lets creative people – otherwise known as humans – know that we are not alone in managing our Idea Debt. Until I got to know some of my mentors better, I really did feel that I simply was not motivated enough to make it happen. I see the most positive change when I listen to this truth: ‘If you want to see big change, you have to do something different every day.’ The key to success is found in your daily routine. One day at a time!
-Rosemary Reid



“This post resonates for me as a magic creator in particular. There were many years where I had tricks like Panic and Machine fully conceived, but I’d not yet taken action on preparing the props, packaging and training videos required to share the tricks with my fellow magicians.

Next thing I knew, I noticed that I hadn’t had any new ideas. After looking around for my ‘muse’ in confusion, the answer became clear. I got my butt in gear, and finished the great tricks I’d already developed. Guess what? As soon as I began to complete those projects, new ideas for great tricks started flowing again!”
-Aaron Fisher


adam head shot new“Too much thinking… too little making… that pretty much sums it up. It’s perfectly fine to dream big; however, the lack of action can put one in a sort of depressed state. Something that always helped me was to remember the 50/50 rule. I try to spend 50% of my time creating… and 50% of my time making those things happen. That way, I can work both sides of the issue.The best part of this approach is that I can get a sense of what projects are actually moving forward in a positive manner. If they aren’t, I can feel good about dropping them.  I’ve used this method to get me through the process of creating magic tricks like Frozen and Ringtone.”
-Adam Grace


shawn-mullins-round“As a performer I use to collect idea debt (I have the notebook to prove it). I would start working on a routine and for months I’ll just research it or continue tweaking it. I like thinking of a big picture with my magic, which sometimes prevents me from doing the most important thing… getting off of the starting block. I have to remind myself that there is no perfect method, no perfect script etc. Eventually I changed my approach from “how can I make this perfect?” to “how can I get this on stage now?” The changes started immediately, and over time, my creativity got stronger. My process moved faster than before. Why? Because I was actually performing!

So, instead of constantly waiting for the right components, I am constantly starting with what I have. I give myself a deadline, usually an open mic night, and then I get ready. Before I know it, the ‘deadline arrives’ and my new trick is no longer an idea…it’s a performance!”
-Shawn Mullins

creating magic tricks“It’s certainly reassuring to realize that I’m not the only lazy person out there experiencing Idea Debt. I have a bunch of “amazing ideas” for routines that have yet to be completed.

Last year, I got a call for a show I do every summer. It’s a show that I don’t make money at, but the audience is fun, and I’m helping out a friend with basically no budget fill his programming. Every year I’m told “80 – 90 % of the audience will be new, so we don’t mind you doing the exact same show as last year!” And every year I get in there and 90% + of the audience is the same.

Last summer I decided that I was going to write a brand new 45 minute show, JUST for them. New opener, new middle, new closer! I am a professional magician and I should be able to do that. It’s not a high paid client…but that wasn’t the point.

I procrastinated a bit but as the date drew near, I worked harder and harder and then just went for it. It was a nerve wracking experience but it was exciting and better to me than hearing, “Oh the straitjacket guy is back! I wonder if he’s going to do that again this year!”.

Some of the material I put in that show went over SO well, I’ve moved it into my regular set and it’s been crushing ever since. I’ve since started setting deadlines and actually scheduling practice time for specific routines into my schedule. Getting up and doing that seems to inspire new ideas and new material. Now I know how to harness it!”
-Scott Hammell

create magician tricks“This article is spot on! I used to spend a lot of time thinking about The Perfect Show, The Perfect Client, The Perfect Script etc. I have so many notes on ideas, plans and projects. The thing that really resonated with me was: ‘So many of the projects on my ‘someday/maybe’ list belong to other, earlier versions of me, not the me of today’.
It is time to get started on the ideas that inspires you TODAY and start TODAY. If you are overwhelmed by several choices and ideas you just need to pick one. “I will start with this one today and see how it goes!”
And maybe we should think about our notes as a bank and not debt? You don’t need to do anything with your notes. They don’t bite you if you don’t work on them. Once in awhile you can make a withdrawal from your Idea Bank. ‘This idea is perfect for the show I am working on now!’  No pressure. It’s your bank account, your ideas!”
-Steinar Thelen


Thanks to Jessica Abel for her great article on Idea Debt which inspired this post. Also, thanks to all our Conjuror Community experts who weighed in on this subject.

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creating magic tricksAbout the Author:
Rosemary Reid is a professional magician, writer, and director and a team member at Conjuror.Community.

Now it's Your Turn...

Share this post with with your magic friends. Then answer this: What methods do you have for dealing with Idea Debt and getting unstuck while creating magic tricks? We would love to hear your thoughts below!