This article is from the Magic FAQ, by Paul Nielsen firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
1. Read everything about magic that you can get your hands on. My
favorite basic texts (and I consult them to this day) are, THE
AMATEUR MAGICIAN'S HANDBOOK, and LEARN MAGIC by Henry Hay; CLASSIC
SECRETS OF MAGIC by Bruce Elliot; THE ROYAL ROAD TO CARD MAGIC by
Hugard and Braue; and THIRTEEN STEPS TO MENTALISM by Tony Corinda.
Chase them down.
2. Learn to do the cut and restored rope. Polish it so that you can
absolutely mystify people with it. This is a great, great trick
that will stand you in good stead. I still use it in our show (in a
3. Learn some version of the Cups and Balls (there is a wonderful
one-cup routine in the Bruce Elliot book above). #2 and #3 formed
the basis of the act I did for years.
4. Wait 10 years before doing the Linking Rings. It's overdone just at
this time in our history.
5. Learn a powerful trick for the ending to your show. Warning:
production tricks are really hard and eat up all your time folding
silks and fake flowers.
6. Remember you are a kid. You look like a kid. Don't think you'll
fool people into thinking you are an old sage from the Himalayas.
7. Do a short act. Don't worry about getting paid yet. Do six minutes
that is wonderful and amazing. You will be able to handle longer
stints as the material develops.
8. The "Miser's Dream" is a really easy trick that's really hard to
learn to do in a concise, entertaining way. Learn it. Learn to
vary your methods. Learn to do it fast. Lots of coins, quickly,
then a beat of comedy. Then more coins, then more comedy. Then an
ending. Get hold of a videotape of Al Flosso doing the Miser's
Dream. Watch how entertaining that old coot is.
9. Perform as often as you can. You will never get good until you
stand on stage for a zillion hours and learn how to do it for real.
It's nice to daydream about grand effects, but if you get out there
-- by whatever means you have to use -- and perform, perform,
perform, you will improve.
10. Behave towards your audience with sincere respect. You are not
superior because you know a few tricks. They are the people you OWE
a wonderful show to.
11. No matter how badly a show goes, remember it's just a show.
Tomorrow there will be a different show and you can redeem
12. Make sure you remember all your ideas. Maybe some stink now only
because you don't yet know enough to make them good. Ideas are
precious. Keep notes.
13. Stick with it. If you truly love what you are doing, you will love
rehearsing, laboring, getting stage fright, wasting money, even
failing. Love magic and your audience so powerfully that you are
locked in the jaws of its love. When the cub scouts throw things,
love the pain; it will teach you. Stick with it. Getting good
takes, not weeks, not months, but years. Years. Be prepared.