Rick Rubin book: The Creative Act is a life lesson in innovation – review

Rick Rubin book: The Creative Act is a life lesson in innovation – review

by Suswati Basu
Rick Rubin's book on tablet with guitars behind
Rick Rubin’s book on tablet with guitars behind (Suswati Basu)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Legendary music producer Rick Rubin is among a number of stars including Pamela Anderson and Prince Harry to delve into the book world this year. Rubin’s “The Creative Act” is a beautifully written and thought-provoking meditation into the nature of creativity. Having worked with some of the top names in the industry including Johnny Cash, the Beastie Boys, and Adele, the book is a collection of his musings and insights on the creative process. Indeed, the virtuoso draws extensively from his experiences as a music industry executive. But even more so, his proclivity for Buddhist practices.

“If we live in a mindset of scarcity, we hoard great ideas.”

Rick Rubin, The Creative Act: A Way of Being

What is the book about?

The book contains interviews with a diverse range of artists, including Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar, as well as Rubin’s own thoughts on topics such as inspiration, collaboration, and the role of technology in music. It’s hard for Rubin not to name-drop in his work, having also produced some of the most iconic albums of all time, including Reign in Blood by Slayer and Walk This Way by Run-DMC and Aerosmith.

Rick Rubin pictured in 2006, The Creative Act is his new book
Rick Rubin pictured in 2006, The Creative Act is his new book (Copyright: jasontheexploder)

He argues that creativity is not something that only artists possess, but rather something that is available to everyone. Rubin also urges to stop thinking so much about your audience as “inspiration comes first. You come next”. He also discusses the importance of being open to new experiences and ideas, and of taking risks.

There are some real pearls of wisdom where Rubin pushes the idea that if we do not try, then important ideas may escape us. “We tend to think of the artist’s work as the output. The real work of the artist is a way of being in the world”, he says.

“All that matters is that you are making something you love, to the best of your ability, here and now.”

Rick Rubin, The Creative Act: A Way of Being

While Rubin’s writing style is accessible, the real value of “The Creative Act” lies in the depth of his insights into the creative process, where he pushes “to restore our childlike perception”. Whether you are a musician, writer, or artist of any kind, Rubin’s reflections transcend boundaries in the creative sphere. He says: “The act of creation is an attempt to enter a mysterious realm. A longing to transcend. What we create allows us to share glimpses of an inner landscape, one that is beyond our understanding. Art is our portal to the unseen world.”

Rick Rubin book key takeaways:

  • Creativity is not something that only artists possess. It is available to everyone.
  • The creative process is not linear. It is often messy and unpredictable.
  • It is important to be open to new experiences and ideas.
  • Taking risks is an essential part of the creative process.
  • Failure is a necessary part of the creative process.
  • The most important thing is to keep creating.

Of course, the book at times feels similar to many in the genre, reminiscent of works from Thich Nhat Hanh or Pema Chodron. What sets this apart is Rubin’s experience in innovation. It’s hard to deny his catalogue of incredible achievements – so there may be something to it. Overall, the book is sure to please anyone who is interested in the creative process, especially from a mindfulness perspective. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about how to tap into their own creativity.

Check out the Pamela Anderson review on her book Love, Pamela about triumph over trauma. Not to mention, we interviewed Creative Superpowers co-author Mark Earls on this very subject!

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