The Creative Act: A Way of Being – Review

Review by Nick Jones

Author: Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin has left an indelible mark on the history of music. He’s the man who revitalised Jonny Cash’s career. He cofounded Def Jam records and helped popularise hip hop. He been behind the boards on some of the biggest albums of the last 40 years.

He might also be a little bit mad, and he’s written a book on how to be creative.

Rubin clearly loves four things: Creative people, making stuff, music, and esoteric philosophy. If you like at least one of those things then congratulations, this book is for you. Your tolerance of the other things will probably determine how much you like it, but nevertheless I would hand on heart say if you’re a creative person you’ll get something out of reading this book.

The four things that Rick Rubin loves underpin this short but intriguing work. What shines through while you read it, time and again, is that Rubin really loves helping people to create works of art. He takes people who create things very seriously, which is something we could all probably do with doing a little more, even if it’s just ourselves. 

Yes, there are some segues into mysticism and philosophy, but keep in mind that this dude quite literally altered and helped shape music as we know it now. If he wants to tell a weird story about why he didn’t have his appendix removed because a random book he found told him not to, then I’m inclined to listen.

As with all things advice-based, including the advice I’m about to give, it’s best to have a shopping trolley mindset. If you like something or you want to try it, pop it in the trolley. If not, leave it on the shelf. There are some wonderful insights in here about how to spark different ways of thinking and approach creative problems from new angles, even though it’s not a book about writing, I’d still absolutely recommend it as a book for writers to read.

Far out, man.

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