Creativity, stillness, and magic

This is a guest post by Claire Partin

The Titan Arum, otherwise known as the corpse flower, blooms every hundred years and grows to be the worldʼs largest blossom, attracting tourists from around the world. It is tall, phallic and smells like hell.

I think the lesson here is donʼt let your creative projects wait one hundred years to blossom or else they might stink.

But there is another lesson, and that is the magic is there, waiting to happen. It takes patience, but if you keep the plant fed and watered every now and then a magnificent bloom will appear.

Donʼt mistake patience for procrastination. It is amazing how when pressed with a deadline I suddenly find it very important to redecorate my apartment and watch the Real Housewives marathon on cable TV.

Rather than procrastinate, next time practice stillness. A good way to find stillness is through meditation, but there is also truth to the phrase “sleep on it.” The seeds are there. The beautiful blossoms of your creativity will appear. You donʼt need to push the shoots through the stems; they know how to bloom already.

I am not saying that creativity just happens, obviously. You do need to sit down and type the screenplay, rehearse the part, pick up the guitar to compose that song, pick up the brush to paint your canvas, write the punch line to that joke. Art doesn’t appear out of thin air, as much as we would like it to.

Stillness helps if, like me, you have many ideas and donʼt know where to start. Stillness helps create space in the middle of working on a project as well. Next time you are struggling to find a solution in your work try taking a little quiet time. When you return to the computer, the canvas or the piano you might be surprised how easy things flow having taken some space.

Sometimes I forget to use this tool and instead to quiet the buzz in my head I end up watching reruns of Sex and the City, tempted to call up old boyfriends and give them a piece of my mind.  This is never a good idea by the way unless you are looking for some good self deprecating material for your stand up act. Even then it is not a good idea.

I could have saved myself some time and aggravation if I had just turned off the TV and sat in stillness.

The Quakers in their meetings have a practice of sitting in silence. No one speaks unless absolutely compelled to do so, and then no one is required to respond. This makes what is said all the more powerful. There is also great power in just sitting in silence.

Perhaps a better example than the corpse flower would be the lovely night blooming jasmine that appears outside my window from late February to late March. It surprises me every year, this beautiful smell that transports me to the time when I first moved to Los Angeles. I have lived here nearly twenty years and yet I forget about the night blooming jasmine until one night in late winter I walk home and there it is, that amazing aroma filling the air.

But the jasmine plant was there all along, growing and taking over the fence knowing full well the blossoms would appear. The blossoms were a foregone conclusion. The plant didnʼt forget, just me. And let me tell you it is nice to be transported by the magic of that smell every year.

Sometimes a plant shows up that you didn’t even know was there, like the mysterious tomato plant that appears next to the corn you planted. But if you hadn’t been out there gardening in the first place you never would have found that gorgeous beefsteak tomato.  The point is to keep creating and to trust the process. To create means to make, not to day-dream or talk about or hope for or imagine.

We have stories and art in us, and some of these creations have been there for a month or a year, some are from our childhood, and some from generations before us that come from deep in our bones. But great art comes from within. You can boost your creativity by adding a little quiet to your creative process, whatever that may be. If you are patient I bet you will discover magic appearing more often in
your work, and every now and then you might grow a crazy giant bloom that people pay good money to see (hopefully one that doesnʼt stink) or something more delicate but equally remarkable like the night blooming jasmine.

Let your ideas and projects grow. Feed your creativity by listening to good music, having fun conversations with friends, or going for walks; whatever gets the juices flowing. Add a little stillness or meditation practice to the mix. But mostly just trust that the magic will appear. If it is there it will find itʼs way out and surprise you (and consequently your audience or viewers) when you least expect it.

©Claire Partin

Claire Partin is an actor, writer and stand-up comedian living in Los Angeles. Her upcoming blog is at, website

‘Titan Arum’ image on Wikipedia

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9 thoughts on “Creativity, stillness, and magic

    • Claire, this is a beautiful piece, and also funny. I love this line:

      “I think the lesson here is donʼt let your creative projects wait one hundred years to blossom or else they might stink.”

      Thank you for an awesome contribution, and have fun creating!

  1. Claire writes evocatively and beautifully. She wrote a blog post about furniture once which was such a story about her childhood — she made inanimate furniture come to life! I like this post about honoring one’s creativity and nurturing disciplined art.

  2. Absolutely true, Claire, and a wonderful reminder. “Donʼt mistake patience for procrastination.” So true! So many things in life feel like ‘hurry up to wait’ and it often leaves me feeling like I’m not doing enough. But I have to remember the the journey is underway and will come to fruition.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wonderful post, Claire. I certainly related to it 100%. The DVR recorded programs are a real draw away from projects and meditating after a full-day of work. It’s easy to make the excuse that I have already put in a full day’s work (non-creative work) and I just want to relax. Thank you for the reminder.

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