In The Amateur at the Kitchen Table I argue for the creation of a 100 trick repertoire for the amateur performer (as opposed to the advice, "Learn six tricks, and learn them well," which, if it's appropriate for anyone, it's really only appropriate for the professional performer).
In that essay I discuss how to go about building and maintaining your repertoire, but there are a few additional personalizations in regards to how I handle my 100 trick repertoire that I've been meaning to cover.
Today's idea is especially timely for me because of something that happened this weekend. Since this site began, I've kept a draft email in my gmail account. In this draft email I write down the ideas I have for future posts. As of this weekend I had somewhere in the area of, I would guess, 250-300 ideas.
And then, Sunday, the draft was gone. Nowhere to be found. I searched my mail for words that I knew were in the draft, there was no copy of it anywhere. I hadn't sent it, it wasn't in the trash. It was just gone and I had no backup.
I should have known better because my gmail drafts (which I use for a lot of things) were acting funky for a couple months. They weren't automatically updating and saving like they should. And sometimes draft titles would just disappear. But this was the first time the whole draft just up and vanished.
It would have been easy to be angry or distraught about this. It was, potentially, a couple years worth of posts ideas that were lost in the ether. But I just decided to start rebuilding the list and I was immediately reminded that this post—The Reset—was one I had been meaning to write about.
The Reset is a feature of my 100 Trick Repertoire. Here's how it works. I have a three digit number that is my reset number. Let's say it's 520. Then, every day I check the evening numbers for the New York Lotto Pick Three. If those numbers match my reset number, then I delete all the documentation I have in regards to the tricks that comprise my 100 trick repertoire, and I start building it up again. So, this means I reset my repertoire, on average once every 1000 days. Almost three years. It's happened to me twice in the past 5 years since I implemented such a system.
When I do a reset it doesn't mean I never do the old tricks again. It just means that I rebuild up the repertoire without paying attention to what it was comprised of.
Why do you do this?
While the 100 trick repertoire as I describe it is something that should be dynamic and constantly evolving, I still think there's the possibility for it as a whole to get a little stale after a couple years and I think it benefits from starting from a blank slate now and then.
And I think there is a survival of the fittest aspect to this process as well. Once you delete your documentation on your 100 trick repertoire, you will immediately remember, say, 40 of them that you definitely want to reincorporate back into the rotation. These tricks tends to be the ones you like the best and/or that the audience likes the best. That's a good foundation for your repertoire.
And finally because building your repertoire is fun, so it makes sense to give yourself the opportunity to do so on some kind of regularly occurring basis.
Well, then why not just do it on a truly regularly scheduled basis?
The reasons for the random factor are these:
First, there are some people who love the planning and the organizing phase of things. They love it a little too much and it prevents them from ever executing a plan. This is a kind of procrastination that's easy for people to justify. "I'm going to [lose weight, start that business, end this relationship, go on a vacation, find a new job, start a new hobby] as soon as I have the perfect plan figured out." And they spend all their time planning and no time doing. But it feels like they're doing something. The purpose of the 100 trick repertoire is to get me to perform more, not to spend a bunch of time crafting a "perfect" theoretical repertoire. If it wasn't random, that could encourage having a "reset" more often than necessary, because it suits people who like planning over doing.
Conversely, it also prevents someone from scheduling the reset at a non-beneficial interval. If you do it every 10 years then you're not really getting the benefit of being able to reassess the direction you're going in every 2-4 years, which I think is a good frequency.
So why not just schedule it every couple of years?
In order to prevent a "spring fever" situation. If you know you'll be tossing out this repertoire in the next three or four months, you might be less inclined to rehearse it and nurture it and make it grow.
Plus, I just like the idea of letting "fate" dictate certain things in my life. I'm a big believer in randomness and ways of using it to keep things fresh and compelling in the areas of my life that are important to me. More on that to come someday (maybe).
As far as this site goes, many of the post ideas that were lost are gone for good. On the other hand I've remembered about half of them in the past few days. So there's no issue with me running out of things to say anytime soon. Don't you worry. I've got plenty more important things to write about. PLENTY. I promise you. Just soooooo many interesting ideas rattling around in my head. Important ideas about the art of magic.
Which reminds me, the posts for the next two months will consist of an episode by episode examination of the Amazon original series, Just Add Magic.
Do these bitches really have what it takes to represent magic with the dignity it deserves? We'll find out as I break down each episode in the series, talk to the stars, and try and answer the hard hitting questions: Will Darbie's parents get back together? What happened the day they created the Can't Recall Caramel? How will Chuck saving Buddy from a car affect Kelly's parents view of him?
All these questions and more will be answered as I take a deep dive into Just Add Magic over the next two or three months.