The Creative Act
A Way of Being
The #1 New York Times bestseller.
From the legendary music producer, a master at helping people connect with the wellsprings of their creativity, comes a beautifully crafted book many years in the making that offers that same deep wisdom to all of us.
"A gorgeous and inspiring work of art on creation, creativity, the work of the artist. It will gladden the hearts of writers and artists everywhere, and get them working again with a new sense of meaning and direction. A stunning accomplishment.” —Anne Lamott
“I set out to write a book about what to do to make a great work of art. Instead, it revealed itself to be a book on how to be.” —Rick Rubin
Many famed music producers are known for a particular sound that has its day. Rick Rubin is known for something else: creating a space where artists of all different genres and traditions can home in on who they really are and what they really offer. He has made a practice of helping people transcend their self-imposed expectations in order to reconnect with a state of innocence from which the surprising becomes inevitable. Over the years, as he has thought deeply about where creativity comes from and where it doesn’t, he has learned that being an artist isn’t about your specific output, it’s about your relationship to the world. Creativity has a place in everyone’s life, and everyone can make that place larger. In fact, there are few more important responsibilities.
The Creative Act is a beautiful and generous course of study that illuminates the path of the artist as a road we all can follow. It distills the wisdom gleaned from a lifetime’s work into a luminous reading experience that puts the power to create moments—and lifetimes—of exhilaration and transcendence within closer reach for all of us.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Rick Rubin founded the iconic hip-hop label Def Jam in an NYU dorm room, then went on to work with everyone from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Tom Petty. But don’t expect famous names in this surprising self-help guide: The Creative Act is purely about finding peace and joy in creation. This extremely readable collection of brief philosophical musings is informed by Rubin’s Buddhist beliefs—and it’s immensely useful for anybody looking for a fresh burst of inspiration. There’s no woo in Rubin’s anyone-can-do-it take on creativity, which touches on topics as concrete as what to do when the thing you create isn’t as good as what you had imagined and, crucially, how to know when a creation is finished. And you don’t have to be an artist to benefit—Rubin’s take on creativity is that it’s about being attuned and receptive to your surroundings. This is the kind of book you’ll want to dip into whenever you feel your creativity and joy flagging.
Grammy-winning music producer Rubin debuts with a meditative manual on how to boost one's creativity. "Your entire life is a form of self-expression," Rubin contends, applying lessons he's learned in the recording studio to inject creativity into everyday life. Observing that listeners sometimes require time to come around to a novel new song, Rubin suggests that the "ideas that least match our expectations are the most innovative" and encourages readers to consider "radically new" ideas even if they turn one off at first. A project is only done "when you feel it is," he posits, entreating readers to seek out the perspectives of others when nearing completion while recognizing that not all feedback will be helpful because innovative work is "likely to alienate as many people as it attracts." Rubin stresses that readers should find what works for them, as when he urges readers to incorporate into their routines creativity-inducing habits that might include exercise, meditating, or "looking at sunlight before screenlight." The dispatches read like ancient spiritual texts in their Zen-like wisdom, as when Rubin writes, "Accessing childlike spirit in our art and our lives is worth aspiring to." Music fans will rejoice.
As a songwriter
amazing book to read as an artist. Tells a lot about the process and emotional stages of a project.
Superb, deep, incredibly insightful introspection on the act of creating, and the human experience
For any artist, or anyone who wishes to create art. I recommend this book over any other book I have read. I happen to know that it was developed over eight long years, after a lifetime of paying close attention, and it shows.
To the author and his team.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to put into words these ideas and experiences which are so intangible. In doing so you’ve given people the ability to perceive regularly what can take years of vigilance to get a glimpse of. Reading this book I have sobbed many times, not because of any explicit sadness, but because this book touches on things that are found so far within the depths of our experience. You’ve managed to pierce into the depths of my soul, Rick! And remind me.. we are a vessel. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. May God bring blessings upon you and your family.
~Ethan from Minnesota, US