Keeping track of a growing repertoire.

If you're just now starting your journey into magic, chances are you only know a handful of tricks. Maybe 3. Maybe 10. But likely not many more.

I've been actively practicing card magic for 4 years now, but I've thought about magic for closer to 30 years. For our purpose here today, let's ignore the 30 and focus on the 4.

In these 4 years I've read easily over a thousand card tricks and have practiced hundreds of them. If it reads good to me, or if on video the performance looks great, I add it to my list of "keepers". These are tricks that I want to know, or think would be good in my repertoire. Or, perhaps, I liked the handling of something in them and think it could benefit me elsewhere. Plenty of reasons, but the point is that I've added them to "my list".

As the time goes on, the list grows. If you've seen my book or video collection (which is barely entered in yet), there's a lot of material. Even if I stopped buying books, I have magazine subscriptions that keep the tricks coming in monthly! My oh my, how on earth will I ever keep track of everything?!

How to Practice?

What a question! When I ask this, I don't mean how to practice an individual routine; I mean how to practice all of them so that I remember them all. Or, at least, remember the ones I want to remember.

Right now, I can probably recall how to perform around 100 routines just by their name. Maybe more, maybe less, but I think it's an accurate estimate. This doesn't mean I'm good at performing them, no. It means if you said Vernon's Triumph, or Perfectly Oiled, or Oil & Queens I could explain the steps to perform them. Can I perform them? Well, those three yes but I'd probably need to practice Perfectly Oiled a time or two before showing anyone.

And that's the point -- I have to practice before being able to show the routine. Now, let's expand that list and instead of only three routines, let's call it 100. 100 routines that I want to be able to perform at a moment's notice...

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, starting in March I'm going to try to practice a handful of routines per day, every day. Not all day, but just until I can "do" the routine and then move on to the next. The routines for the day will be round robin selected from the entire list of "keepers" and once I've reached the end the list is shuffled and I'll do it again.

Well, it's March and I haven't exactly started yet. Why not? Because my organization method sucks.

Keeping Track of Routines

You can't build a house without the right tools so it makes sense that I wouldn't be able to do some fancy list magic without a fancy list.

Right now, my list of "keepers" is stored in a page in One Note and written on a few pages in a real notebook. I've liked the app for years and use it for many things, but I've come to realize that my use-case for magic trick recording has outgrown the capabilities of the app.

List of books and routines stored in a One Note page
A small snippet of "keepers" from my One Note page.

Herein lies the dilemma. I was thinking that I could migrate to a spreadsheet app, something simple like Google Sheets so that it would sync between my computers and phone. However, I already know that I'll want to track other info about the routines like if they require a setup or gaffs. How long the trick takes and if it has one or multiple selections. And probably most importantly, what kind of sleights are used in it and what other references there are for it.

That's a lot of potential info for a single trick and while I wouldn't need all of it for my practice regimen, I would love it for a lot of other things -- including as a helpful tool here on the site. So, a spreadsheet is out.

I've heard a lot about Notion, a few people I work with use it regularly and I've seen it online a bit too, but I've never tried it yet. It looks like it might accomplish what I need but I would need to learn it first. I've nothing against that, I learn new tools all the time. However, the big question is whether I'd be able to integrate the data into the site or not. Reliance on an external service isn't my favorite idea, but it does look like it has an API which would allow me to bring data in... maybe. No idea what it really offers.

Alternatively, I can build it myself. This would likely be faster than learning Notion and would allow me all of the customization I'd want. The only problem is, I'd have to build it.

Because it's quicker and more extensible, I do think I'll build it myself. I want to learn Notion for other purposes, and it does look like it may help me with my goal here, but since we're talking about flexing the brain, I might as well flex the brain!

I'm really interested in hearing about how others keep track of routines in their repertoire. If you have a method that works for you, or any that you know of (even if you don't practice it yourself), send it my way!

I can't wait to get this setup and start the regimen I've come up with. For now, I'm still "stuck" practicing random things that pop into my head but soon I'll put a little structure to my work!

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