Results Divorced From Effort: Ur Doin It Wrong

The Making of The Millionaire’s Magician

My blog post was meant to address the incoming emails I receive from magicians around the world who ask me to teach them how to replicate my career. They come visit my show, which is sold-out weeks in advance, and say, “I want that.” The problem is that they only see the final result. They do not see the years of struggle and creative thought that went into creating that result.


Magicians who email me for advice in creating a show like Chamber Magic sometimes wonder if there’s a secret formula they can follow to become successful. What they don’t see is that I’ve dedicated my life to the show. My entire lifestyle revolves around the show. The show affects my availability to my family, and prevents me from making outside commitments every single weekend. There’s no easy secret I can offer to up-and-comers who think it’d be fun to have their own show.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

You know how many eejits think they can write?

When you tell them, Go try! they sit and find out it’s hard. But not hard as in difficult — they think there’s some damn trick involved. And if you would just tell them The Trick, then they could do it too!

Like Watson, remarking to Sherlock Holmes:

With hardly a word spoken, but with a kindly eye, he waved me to an armchair, threw across his case of cigars, and indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in the corner. Then he stood before the fire, and looked me over in his singular introspective fashion.

“Wedlock suits you,” he remarked. “I think, Watson, that you have put on seven and a half pounds since I saw you.”

“Seven,” I answered.

“Indeed, I should have thought a little more. Just a trifle more, I fancy. Watson. And in practice again, I observe. You did not tell me that you intended to go into harness.”

“Then how do you know?”

“I see it, I deduce it. How do I know that you have been getting yourself very wet lately, and that you have a most clumsy and careless servant-girl?”

“My dear Holmes,” said I, ” this is too much. You would certainly have been burned had you lived a few centuries ago. It is true that I had a country walk on Thursday and came home in a dreadful mess; but as I have changed my clothes, I can’t imagine how you deduce it. As to Mary Jane, she is incorrigible, and my wife has given her notice; but there again I fail to see how you work it out.”

He chuckled to himself and rubbed his long, nervous hands together.

“It is simplicity itself,” said he; “my eyes tell me that on the inside of your left shoe, just where the fire-light strikes it, the leather is scored by six almost parallel cuts. Obviously they have been caused by some one who has very carelessly scraped round the edges of the sole in order to remove crusted mud from it. Hence, you see, my double deduction that you had been out in vile weather, and that you had a particularly malignant boot-slicking specimen of the London slavey. As to your practice, if a gentleman walks into my rooms, smelling of iodoform, with a black mark of nitrate of silver upon his right forefinger, and a bulge on the side of his top-hat to show where he has secreted his stethoscope, I must be dull indeed if I do not pronounce him to be an active member of the medical profession.”

I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained his process of deduction. “When I hear you give your reasons,” I remarked, “the thing always appears to me so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled, until you explain your process.[“]

Even after Holmes explains how he did it, Watson still thinks he could have done it — if only he had bothered to learn Holmes’ “trick.”

The “secret” of expertise is that it makes things look easy.

But the real secret behind expertise is thousands and thousands and thousands of hours of damned hard work.

Before you heard of that person you admire, who was he or she?

Some “nobody” you might have passed by a million times and never noticed.

Until you saw that person’s expertise displayed in a book.

The expertise that resulted from the countless hours of work that “nobody” put in while your attention was elsewhere.

And now you want the fame and adulation and admiration the expertise brings minus the hard work behind it?

That will never happen.

Bernie Madoff never had the expertise he claimed. The world is overfilled with such con artists.

Such con artists in writing are usually called plagiarists.

Don’t be one of them.

And if you haven’t devoted endless solitary hours to writing, don’t think you can suddenly pick up a pen or peck at a keyboard and get the results of a professional.

And one more thing: There isn’t one professional writer out there who doesn’t think another writer is better at writing.

Get this into your head: There are no shortcuts!


Filed under Writing

3 responses to “Results Divorced From Effort: Ur Doin It Wrong

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention CORRECTED: Results Divorced From Effort: Ur Doin It Wrong --

  2. Figured that out when I was 18 (figured a lot of things out that year). I grew up thinking martial arts was this magical mysterious knowledge when…it’s just hard work and practice. And practice. And hard work. Later, rinse, repeat.

    Took the stars right out of my eyes for anything else I thought was magical and mysterious.

    • mikecane

      Charles Schulz made cartooning look sooooo easy. It turns out you don’t get a simple style like that without being one hell of an artist *first* (Dilbert to the damn contrary!!).

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