The Creative Act by Rick Rubin

A few months ago, I found myself with a free Saturday afternoon. The kids were at my Mum's for the day, Lu was getting her hair done and on this particular afternoon, The Piece Hall was hosting an afternoon of music including a local band I'd recently come across, courtesy of Trevor Morris.

I sat in the Summer sunshine for way too long and decided at one point I needed to wander around The Piece Hall and have a look around. I ended up wandering into The Book Corner where I spent a fair bit of time looking through their offering (and cooling off in the shade the shop provided). Amongst all the books that piqued my interest, The Creative Act by Rick Rubin jumped out, helped by its simple, minimal cover design surrounded by colourful and sometimes lavishly designed book covers.

The book had been sitting on my Amazon wishlist for a long time so I decided to treat myself.

At first, I decided to tackle the book a bit at a time which explains why I've only just finished the book, despite buying it back in August. Reading just a section at a time was my attempt to really take in what I was reading but this was before I started using a commonplace book to write down quotes or notes on what I was reading. When I realised that reading a section at a time wasn't improving my retention rate, I decided to just get on with reading but from about the halfway point, taking down notes on small index cards to go over at a later date. At some point, probably next year, I'll re-read the book and take notes on the first half too.

The book itself is really just a collection of thoughts and approaches to creating art, which Rick Rubin has learned from years in the music industry. While he often cites scenarios specifically around music, the book is still mostly agnostic of any discipline so can easily be applied to any form of creative pursuit.

There are some thoughts which struck me as a bit fanciful to someone like me, a lone creator whose artistic work resides in the realms of a hobby but there were also many nuggets of truth, at least to me. I found myself nodding along with many ideas which is why I need to go back and take notes. I distinctly remember the nodding, even if I can't quite remember why.

I'd really recommend giving it a read. It's certainly made me reassess my thoughts on what "success" means, as well as how I look at my own methods of creative expression, changing my perspective on creativity as a deeply personal pursuit and trying to put a pin in the idea of commercial gains, particularly while I'm in the middle of working. Sure, it can't be entirely ignored all the time, but sometimes it's good to remind yourself that there's value in just creating. Enjoy the process, relish the explorations, embrace the mistakes and what possibilities they might open up.

Sometimes it does you good to be content just doing the work and not worrying about whether it even has an audience. Blissful ignorance.

If we can tune into the idea of making things and sharing them without being attached to the outcome, the work is more likely to arrive in its truest form.