Creativity can sometimes be a tricky beast to master so the plan is to put my creative process here to help others that might be struggling a little. Read on for a few tips to help you think creatively about old routines and start the upcycling journey.
In doing my research I found a great article from Dan Harlen in a Penguin Magic magazine back in June 2016. Dan’s article was called The Top Ten Ways To Be A More Creative Magician. I want to highlight two of his ideas then give you some thinking points in the form of questions to help boost creativity.
The first idea of Dan’s that I wish to highlight is “More is More”. When you are being creative write down as many ideas as you can. Pay no regard to which are the best ones at this point but get all your ideas out on paper.
The second is “Substituting objects”. Dan suggests swapping the objects in a routine, for example swapping the wand for a pen, or a carrot.
We as magicians sometimes get caught in a loop creating new methods for magic. We can get caught up creating multiple new ways for doing the same thing when the original method worked fine.
Remember method is only important to us as magicians. The audience doesn’t care which method you used to get into your double lift, or if you have invented your own new card control. The audience care about what appears to have happened, how it relates to them and, ultimately, how it makes them feel. Going back to my pile of magic – there are more than enough gimmicks and methods. What I really need is a way to make them more appealing to my audience.

So here are the questions to use when creating new material from old props or previous routines.

1.What items mean a lot to my audience?
2.What items mean a lot to my character?
3.What would the opposite of that thing be?
4.Why is this thing happening? Could it happen for another reason?
5.What element of being human could this effect link to?
Here is one prop from my draw which could do with a new lease in life and how the 5 questions above helped my think outside the box it came in. Remember, more is more, no idea is a bad idea until we have finished.

Lubor Lens
The original presentation involved covering a pen with the lens and showing that afterwards it had twisted. This is a fun, optical illusion type of effect where the spectator swears they see the object twisting and deforming right infront of their eyes. Of course we could swap out the pen for something like a paperclip, or a pair of laces that braid and unbraid themselves but neither of these options is more personal to the spectator.

1.What items mean a lot to my audience?
We could borrow an object they are using, for example a straw, and then return it to them in the twisted state. Maybe even make it into an origami shape by covering it with the lens.
We could borrow their EarPods (iPhone headphones) and cause them to apparently warp and melt before reversing the process and restoring them.
We could borrow their keys. We talk about the importance and personal nature of keys before warping one right in front of their eyes. – Don’t forget to restore it afterwards-
If we take an object personal to the spectator then they will instantly become more invested in the routine.

2. What items mean a lot to my character?
The effect could be performed with a family heirloom. With a photograph or a letter from a loved one. A piece of your clothing or a ticket from the show everyone is at. Or using a prop that has already been used in my show so that it already has a level of importance.
3.What would the opposite of that thing be?
The opposite of this would be untwisting something or fixing chaos in the world. We could show a mangled and twisted object and while passing it under the lens everything comes into focus and goes back to how it should be. We could take an image where the colours or lines are mixed up and then show them unmixing and straightening out.

4. Why is this thing happening /could it happen for another reason?
Is it happening by accident when the lens is placed on the pen? This could mean the power is in the plastic lens itself and not with the magician but that might be the angle you are going for. Maybe a range of objects twist when the lens is accidentally left on each one.
Or is it a magical realisation of your internal emotions? Are you willing the object to twist or change? Are the spectators making the twist happen as they hold the lens over the object and think specific thoughts?

5. What element of being human could this effect link to?
Don’t just think about what you are twisting but also why you are twisting it. You could talk about how when we harbour darkness in our thoughts this manifests itself twisting our lives and the things around us but when we meditate and clear our hearts then things can start to go back to normal.
The untwisting could represent a transition from difficult times in your life, overcoming an obstacle or a challenge.

Through those five quick questions we now have a lot more options for our simple effect. Which one will be the best and will stick? I don’t know. But remember Dan’s mantra at the start: “More is more!” and having a long list of ideas to choose from is a great starting point.
What inspires you?

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Cox on our podcast and one of the things we talked about was inspiration. Chris reminded me that we should be looking around us for as many sources of inspiration as possible. We should be reading books, going to the theatre, listening to music, watching movies. We should actively seek our sources of inspiration that are outside our normal sphere and be open to them having a positive impact on our creation process.
However, Chris said, when you are creating be mindful of not becoming a clone of another person. Take a wide variety of inspiration and use it to make a better you.