The question I am most asked while performing, by children as well as adults, is “How did I become a Magician” ? and, more generally, “what are the best ways to discover and learn Magic”? While I cannot give you an answer that speaks universally and would hold true every time, I can give you some tips. First I will focus on the basic pitfalls.
Here is what you should not do:
_ Spend time on YouTube. You will waste hours watching poor tutorials that will not help you improve your skills. Let’s make an easy comparison: a deck of cards is like a guitar, or any musical instrument. If you want to be serious about guitar and play properly, you should stay away from YouTube and all of the other free video websites. The best you could find – after you have watched dozens of poor videos - will be one or two videos that teach you how to play a specific song. That is one way to do it but it will not turn you into a guitarist. You will only be reproducing gestures you have seen without having all the necessary theoretical knowledge about scales, notes, arpeggios, and so on. (Well, after all, guitar genius Django Reinhardt could not write nor read!) The road from song player to guitarist is a long one. Equally, it is a very long stretch from doing the automatic card tricks you have seen on YouTube to the talents needed by a real card technician.
_ Buy Assorted Tricks. This is a major pitfall : online sites and brick and mortar stores promote thousands of tricks that “you can perform right out from the box and will leave your friends and family speechless”. What you get are many kinds of gimmicks whose use is entirely automatic. It may be helpful if you want to experience a foretaste of what real Magic is, or if you want to focus on other aspects (presentation, texts, and so on), but you should never build an act around it. To go back to our guitar analogy, this is exactly as if you were buying a tab (not even a music sheet, just a tab!) for a specific song. You might end up playing it correctly but you won’t be able to go further without all the theory and technical basics, let alone deliver an entire show.
Let me quote P.Diaconis and R.Graham: "Find a nearby magic store, drop in, and buy a book or a CD. They will try to sell you a load of junk and this should be avoided until you know what you are doing" in Magical Mathematics
_ Rush. Learning Magic takes time, lots of time. One can even say it is a never-ending process ! New books, effects, and tricks are released almost every day. There is always something new to learn, and some moves will take you years of practice. So put your ego out of the equation (a real problem among magicians !) and take your time. Think long-term.