Reviews for The creative act : a way of being

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The renowned music producer offers an apothegmatic study of creativity. “However you frame yourself as an artist, the frame is too small,” writes Rubin, producer of albums across genres, from rap to metal to country. Rather than issue gnomic instructions in the manner of Brian Eno’s “oblique strategies” set of cards, Rubin, always encouraging, begins by insisting that creativity “is not a rare ability. It is not difficult to access. Creativity is a fundamental aspect of being human.” Though readers may feel slightly cowed next to someone like, say, Paul McCartney, whom the author interviewed at length in a recent Hulu series, Rubin has an apt reply: “You exist as a creative being in a creative universe. A singular work of art.” There are ways to position oneself in this creative universe and work to best advantage. The author counsels that it’s never a bad idea to read the very best books, view the very best movies, and study the very best paintings. The only shortcoming in this strategy is that “no one has the same measures of greatness.” Regardless, Rubin urges that the point of art is not to create a product to sell but instead to find a transcendent path to something wonderful within ourselves. “We’re not playing to win,” he writes, “we’re playing to play.” This means getting into child mode and preparing for the possibility that one game might be less fun than another. It also involves getting into the habit of not saying no to oneself or imposing limits just because you haven’t done something. “If there’s a skill or piece of knowledge you need for a particular project, you can do the homework and work toward it over time,” writes the author. “You can train for anything.” Learn, do, have fun: terrific encouragement for anyone embarking on a creative project, no matter what it might be. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly
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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. (Jan.)