I am a terrible sleeper. I kind of always have been. Since becoming a Magician most of my best ideas spring to mind in the middle of the night.
There is a scientific reason for this.
As humans, we’re regulated by circadian rhythms, these are physical and mental changes that take place across the day. The circadian rhythms are affected by light and darkness, they can influence our sleeping patterns, secretion of hormones, digestion and the regulation of body temperature.
Since circadian rhythms are also linked to our psychological abilities, when we’re at peak circadian arousal time, our brain power is at its highest. Allowing us to solve problems we face daily.
These circadian rhythms respond when we have less light and our body is beginning to slow down for a night’s rest. Meaning the right hemisphere of the brain can actively function and benefit our creative impulses when we’re not in our most attentive state. (See the picture above). So idea’s ooze out from our brains like the Marshmallow man except we can’t call the Ghostbusters for help to stop the ideas generating that keep us awake.
How to prepare for brain activity at night?
What we all need to do is remember to write all ideas (even silly ones) down in a notebook, so they are not forgotten. Keeping a notebook stashed beside your bed at night is just one way to make sure you write them down. The closer it is the better. The less effort you make the more chance you have of retaining those thoughts. (I once woke up with my notebook at my feet under the duvet).
Weirdly last night I came up with a method to make a topit in my denim jacket and had an idea for my cups and balls and couldn’t get back to sleep until I got up and left a cylinder on top of my table to remind me in the morning to start work on the idea. Once I had done that I was out for the count.
What to do when a puzzle cannot be solved?
When I have ideas, I dream… BIG! And lots of the time I really don’t know how to solve these problems and make my ideas real. As a magician I’m still developing, reading and learning as I grow so there’s lots of things I don’t know how to make or execute.
I like to look at problems solving in magic as a puzzle. By turning it into a game the stakes are high. And when I solve it and win it’s so much more delightful. The playfulness of a game keeps difficult problem solving fun.
One of the ways to solve a magic puzzle is to enact what you wish to achieve first in your head and then physically. This idea of using ‘pantomiming’ as a tool to create is explored in detail by Tommy Wonder. He calls this method The Mind Movie.
As Pantomiming is delivering a story without words. We magicians in rehearsals can think a trick without executing it. Giving us a better idea how to take a fantasy and make it real.
Here is a summery of Tommy Wonder’s Mind Movie method below.
- You have an idea – remember anything is possible. Imagine without limits.
- Explore the effect fully, understand all you need to know to perform it and let it take shape in your mind.
- By thinking the effect you get a clearer notion of what it might look like.
- Run through the effect physically. Gather the props and use them during your “fantasy rehearsal” – Tommy Wonder The Books of Wonder Page 53.
- By doing this Tommy writes you discover all the awkward spots, the things that do not work.
- By this stage methods are not important anymore. Solving the puzzle is. Completing the task is.
But can a fantasy ever become reality?
So let’s link back to me developing as a performer and how pantomiming helped me achieve a completely new method (for me) that worked right away.
When I create and work with a new prop I haven’t a clue how to use it. This year has been my year playing with the classic, Cups and Balls. I researched a lot of routines by watching them, reading them and I’ve picked up some ideas here and there. However working through my own routine I have found it difficult to know exactly what I wish to do next in the routine. And when I finally find what I want to do next I have no clue how to make it happen.
For the record – This kind of thinking got me absolutely no where and depressed! So please join me and chuck this ‘we have to know the method before performing the trick’ in the bin.
Two days ago I began to think outside the box – making my predicament a puzzle to be solved. I began thinking, what if I set the ball where I need it to be so that I can get used to grabbing it from that position to place under a cup. This meant I didn’t put any pressure on myself to come up with the sneaky method right away. The idea was solely to find the best place for the ball to ‘live’ until I needed it. After doing this for two days with all my new loads sitting visible on top of the table a method popped straight into my head as to how I could hide the balls in those positions.
What I’m saying here is a clear method to hide the balls (which I had no idea how to do prior to enacting my mind movie for two days solid) came to fruition without struggle. It was simple, easy and without fuss and the first prototype I made (from cardboard and tape*) worked immediately.
*On a side note making prototypes of props out of cardboard and tape is a great way to see if your idea works without spending a lot of money to make something that doesn’t work.
I hope this post is something for you to ponder over a cuppa.
I’ll now leave you with the final lines from the Wonder maker himself.
“Your audiences will be able to experience your imagination and you. They will not experience a pale recreation of someone else’s imagination, or a hobbled version of your imagination. It will be a sincere, honest sharing of your dreams with the audience. You cannot share more. That is the ultimate!”Tommy Wonder The Books of Wonder Page 54.