Rick Rubin’s “The Creative Act: A Way of Being” Will Change Your Life

I love to read, and in my younger days, I would read a book from cover to cover in as little as a week or less.

These days, I tend to accumulate piles of books, then crack open the covers of as many as I can during the summer months simply because I don’t have the energy, the focus, or the time to read much for pleasure during the school year.

However, the universe led me to noted music producer Rick Rubin’s new book, The Creative Act: A Way of Being, which was published by Penguin Press in January and has since become a #1 New York Times Bestseller.

As a lifelong fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I recognized Rubin’s name immediately. He produced many of their albums, as well as the Beastie Boys’ License to Ill, Tom Petty’s Wildflowers and Echo, and a host of others. He also is an eight-time Grammy winner, and in 2007, MTV called him the “most important producer of the last 20 years. 

At first, I was skeptical, since I’m not at all musically inclined. What could the founder of Def Jam records and the producer behind so many successful albums teach me about creativity? 

My copy, complete with its kaleidoscope of sticky flags.

I now have a new favorite book.

“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.

From Amazon

Rubin’s book is chock full of practical affirmations and inspiration for everyone, not just for artists

I am a writer, and I am absolutely hooked on Rubin’s book.

His chapters are short snippets of grandiose wisdom and profound statements. I can read and absorb one every day without feeling overwhelmed by my job-related to-do lists or stressors.

The book has spoken to me so tremendously, I brought my copy, with a gazillion post-it flags fanning from its pages like feathers, to share with my writing group. 

Our leader, Mike, also brought his copy to share because the book had the same effect on him.

The universe at work, indeed.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Everyone will find a kernel of inspiration or a new way to see the “ordinary” or just “be” within its pages.

I’m about halfway done with reading this bible of creativity and inspiration, and I thought I’d share a few statements that really spoke to me.

Clouds never truly disappear. They change form. They turn into rain and become part of the ocean, and then evaporate and return to being clouds.

The same is true of art.

Art is the circulation of energetic ideas. What makes them appear ne is that they’re combining differently each time they come back. No two clouds are the same.

Page 14

Substitute the word “idea” or “creation” for “art,” if you don’t consider yourself an “artist,” and Rubin’s take still applies. 

When you’re working on a project, you may notice apparent coincidence appearing more often than randomness allows – almost as if there is another hand gilding yours in a certain direction. As if there is an inner knowing gently informing your movements. Faith allows you to trust the direction without needing to understand it. Pay particular attention to the moments that take your breath away – a beautiful sunset, an unusual eye color, a moving piece of music, the elegant design of a complex machine. If a piece of work, a fragment of consciousness, or an element of nature is somehow allowing us to access something bigger, that is its spiritual component made manifest. It awards us a glimpse of the unseen.

Pages 32-22

Rubin just described my experience from my soon-to-be-published-novel’s first seed through today. I’ve tried to use my words to tell others about my journey but never could fully explain my experience. In a few simple yet elegant sentences, Rubin did just that.

    The world is constantly changing, so no matter how often we practice paying attention, there will always be something new to notice. It’s up to us to find it.

    Page 56

    Again, Rubin succinctly expresses something I’ve practiced for almost a decade now but had difficulty trying to explain. Look for the extraordinary in the ordinary!

      The purpose of the work is to awaken something in you first, then allow something to be awakened in others. And it’s fine if they’re not the same thing. We can only hope that the magnitude of the charge we experience reverberates as powerfully for others as it does for us.

      Pages 90-91

      When I write something, whether it is a short snippet to share wisdom, like this post, or a larger piece such as a story or a novel, the best moments are when I feel the awakening inside of me. As a writer, my goal is always to hope that my reader experiences a similar feeling of awakening. And this book has awakened me in countless ways.

        Ride the wave as long as it can be ridden. If you are fortunate enough to experience the strike of inspiration, take full advantage of the access. Remain in the energy of this rarefied moment for as long as it lasts. When flowing, keep going. Page 130.

        Page 130

        Simple yet so profound. Whatever your wave is, RIDE IT as long as you can.

          The artist casts a line to the universe. We don’t get to choose when a noticing or inspiration comes. We can only be there to receive it. As with meditation, our engagement in the process is what allows the result.

          Page 144

          Again, I experience this so often, sometimes almost on a daily basis, but I’ve never been able to express this phenomenon in words. Rubin does, and it’s good advice, no matter your profession or role. 

            It’s powerful. It’s profound. And it’s for YOU. Be inspired and see everything with new lenses by reading Rubin’s The Creative Act: A Way of Being.

            Thank you for joining me on my journey. I am glad you are here.

            With light and gratitude,


            “Rick Rubin’s ‘The Creative Act: A Way of Being’ Will Change Your Life” was posted on jillocone.com on March 1, 2023. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any of my employers. Copyright 2023, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

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