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(And 1,000 more if necessary)

Robert Angier dies every night.

He goes on stage to perform a magic trick called the disappearing man. Except he doesn’t disappear.

He makes a clone of himself and plummets into a heavy tank where he drowns. The clone takes over his life, appearing in splendor to the thrilled and applauding audience.

Every time he goes on stage is his last moment on Earth.

I’m talking about a movie — The Prestige. My wife and I are on a quest to watch every Best Picture winner ever, and the journey reminds me of my favorite movies. The Prestige sits high on the list.

Although it’s a dark twist, Angier sacrifices himself every day before crowds all over the world. In doing so, he becomes the best magician in the world.

To make the best work you can possibly make, you have to die every day too.

This is not a death of the body, but a death of the hubris, the ego. You may have done great things in the past. Who cares? Every night, you must go to bed, die, and then wake up to start all over.

Learning new things is hard. It sucks. Why would you want to exert that much brain power?

“Ugh,” you think. “Another thing.”


But a friend encouraged me, so I put Old Todd to rest and learned Quora.

The result?

My work there has gotten me into the biggest publications in the world — Apple News, Inc. Magazine, and (as of yesterday) The Huffington Post.

Now Medium has this new thing called “Series.” Ugh. Another thing.

But I have learned what it takes now. As an artist, I will die 1,000 times and 1,000 more if necessary.

Here is my latest tombstone:

— TB

Infinite deaths is just one of the ways I come up with infinite ideas. Learn more about that process in my free eBook.

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An optimist who writes.

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