Books You Gotta Read

Where Buddha Meets Business

The Creative Act: A Way of Being By Rick Rubin

The Creative Act is a book that I absolutely related to. It gave me an amazing boost of confidence and a dose of courage, mindset, and focus. Yet, when I shared how much this book helped and guided me, some colleagues shared that the book didn’t meet their expectations. It was more of a book filled with “Instagram posts,” their words, not mine…

Huh, I thought, wow, that was not my experience. Maybe it’s because the book showed up at the right place and time. I’m a firm believer that “when the student is ready, the book definitely appears!”

I’m sharing this with you as a way to open your mind and to give you a little background on my own journey in hopes you connect and give this book a good look to see if it’s a good fit for you and what you need right now…

My journey to realizing that I’m more creative than I ever thought was, sadly, a very long one with its twists and turns in sales, marketing, communications, and project management. For the life of me, I would never have described myself as a writer or a “creative” type. I always thought that was for people who were artists and musicians.

It wasn’t until four years ago that I even thought of myself as a writer. And are writers creatives? Well, um yeah… Guess I still have much to learn on this planet!

Since I discovered that I’m actually a right-brain person living in a left-brain mindset, I have been on a journey to read everything about writing and creativity.

I’ve reviewed several books on this site, and many links are at the bottom of this post.

What I Loved About This Book:

In The Creative Act: A Way Of Being, Rick Rubin covers a lot of ground for creatives. I especially loved how much it focused on mindset, aligning your consciousness with your inspiration, and getting into the mode of creation. Sometimes, you have it, and sometimes, you don’t. And what do you do during those times when you don’t? Plus, he’s a real believer in intuition over technical prowess and honors spontaneity and the subconscious.

Rubin is like a spiritual guide who helps seekers find their creative path. He views collaboration as more like a mirror.

If you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, as I sometimes do, this book will be a good shot in the arm for you.

It’s also interesting that Rick Rubin is a big deal in the music world. He produced and executive produced these artists: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, Jay-Z, Brandi Carlile, Tom Petty, Adele, the Chicks (fka the Dixie Chicks), Lady Gaga, and many others. 

Some of my favorite quotes are below. 

There’s also a lot of practical stuff in the book that will, definitely help you find your muse, get out of your head, and also just do the work you were meant to do while on this planet.

A Book Summary to Inspire You To Read It!

Quick Summary:
The Creative Act: A Way Of Being by Rick Rubin is a compelling and inspirational read that will help you unlock your creative potential, regardless of your field. He’s a legend in music and shares his insights in the creative process, drawing from his wealth of experience in the music industry. It’s almost as if you’re having a one-on-one with him about how to create. I listened to this Audible and highly recommend listening to him as he reads the book. Plus, he has a terrific, soothing, almost fatherly voice. 

Who Ought to Read this Book and Why:
The Creative Act: A Way Of Being by Rick Rubin is more than just a manual on creativity. It’s more of an invitation to explore the depths of your own creative potential. Plus, you’re being guided by a master of creativity who shares some engaging stories. It’s a must-listen-to (or read) to enhance your creative practice, regardless of your field. It’s for anyone who creates, from design to music, art, writing, and more. You will definitely benefit from Rubin’s wisdom on innovation, collaboration and leadership. He takes you a self-discovery journey through art. 

Things You Will Discover:

Rubin’s insights offer a universal blueprint for tapping into your inner creativity, and they are invaluable resources for anyone on the creative path looking to unlock their potential.

  1. Embrace Your Unique Process: Begin by honoring your intuition. Experiment with different mediums and methods without the pressure of perfection. Let your curiosity and feelings guide your exploration.
  2. Seek Constructive Collaboration: Find partners or mentors who understand and respect your vision. Engage in dialogues that challenge and refine your ideas, using these interactions as a mirror to understand your creative identity better.
  3. Cultivate & Embrace Silence and Solitude: Dedicate time to silence and meditation. Use these moments to listen to your inner voice and the whispers of inspiration. Allow these quiet insights to influence your work.
  4. Cultivate a Beginner Mind: This is my favorite, as I look at things from a new perspective and mindset regardless of your level of expertise. I’ve written about this on my blog if you want more specific guidance on adopting a beginner’s mind.
  5. Listen More Than You Speak: Yeah, this is a little harder for me—something I’m working on! There is an incredible value to listening to others deeply with your whole body. (It’s also called Active Listening.) It fosters a positive environment and allows for ideas to bubble to the surface. 
  6. Having a Routine AND Flexibility: Yes, routines are terrific—I have many. Yet, there also needs to be room for spontaneity and changing things up, which will help the creative mind. I often have “flow” days, where I simply go with the flow of what I’m feeling and let that be my guide.
  7. Embrace Your Failures— They’re Teaching Moments: Ummm, this one is really hard. I first need to work through my feelings. Then, I can embrace my failures. The key is to look at your failures and disappointments as teachable moments and be grateful for the learning experience.
  8. When In Doubt, Simplify: As an entrepreneur, I’m all about simplicity, yet things often wind up being more complex when I’m creating whatever I’m working on. So having Rubin share about how simplicity can be powerful is a terrific reminder to let go of complexity and embrace simplicity.

This book is more than just a simple manual on creativity; it’s an invitation to explore the depths of your own creative potential. And having one of the most influential people in the music industry as your guide.

Inspiring Book Quotes:

The Hidden Moments:
“Epiphanies are hidden in the most ordinary moments.“

What Are You In Awe Of?
“Train yourself to see the awe inside the obvious—submerge yourself.”

What It Means To Let Go:
“Success occurs in the privacy of the soul. It comes the moment you decide to release the work before it goes out into the world- when you have done all you can to release its potential and are pleased and ready to let it go.”

Practice Detachment And Curiosity…
“Seek to experience these events as if watching a movie- it watching a dramatic scene – it’s you but not you. I wasn’t expecting that plot twist. I wonder what will happen next?”

Being Open to New Possibilities…
There’s always a next scene for new possibilities to come into being. The outcome is not the outcome. The darkness is not the end point neither is the sunrise. Nothing is bad or good, it just is they simply exist.” 

It’s Not About Obsessing on Moments:
“Don’t obsessively focus on these events. The further you zoom back, the smaller these experiences become – zoom in, obsess, zoom out, and observe. We get to choose.”

Stay Out of the Story In Your Head:
“Stay out of the story and zoom back to see new pathways in and around the challenges will be of boundless use. It’s just a story we keep telling yourselves.”

Interpretation Machines:
“We regularly come to conclusions. We are interpretation machines. The process of labeling and detachment is efficient but not accurate. We are the unreliable narrators of our own experience.”

Why Do We Make Art?
“Urge to share in hopes of replicating this mysterious charge in others. Our call to self-expression – our creative purpose —we share filters our way of seeing in order to create to spark an echo in others.”

We are alive to…
“The reason we’re alive is to express ourselves in the world. ”

This is Fundamental:
“Creativity is a fundamental aspect of being human. It’s our birthright.”

When The Time Is Right:
“We can’t force greatness to happen. All we can do is invite it in and actively await it. We’re all different and imperfect, and the imperfections are what makes each of us and our work interesting.”

“The objective is not to learn to mimic greatness, but to calibrate our internal meter for greatness.”

Your Environment Is Important:
“Create an environment where you’re free to express what you are afraid to express.”

Your Mission Is Accomplished When:
“When we’re making things we love, our mission is accomplished.”

“Criticism allows us to engage with our work in a new way. we may agree, or we may double down on our original instincts.”

Powerful Reactions:
“If you are immediately turned off by an experience, it’s worth examining why powerful reactions often indicate deeper wells of meaning.”


“The goal of art isn’t to attain perfection. The goal is to share who we are. And how we see the world.”

About the Author: Rick Jay Rubin

Rick Jay Rubin is an American record executive and record producer. He is a co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, founder of American Recordings, and former co-president of Columbia Records. He is a nine-time GRAMMY-winning producer, named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time and the most successful producer in any genre by Rolling Stone. He has collaborated with artists from Tom Petty to Adele, Johnny Cash to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys to Slayer, Kanye West to the Strokes, and System of a Down to Jay-Z.

Where I Would Recommend Getting Your Copy:

The Creative Act: A Way Of Being by Rick Rubin

Other Books I’d Recommend:
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Put Your Heart Where Your Ass Wants to Be by Steven Pressfield

The Artist’s Journey: The Wake of The Hero’s Journey And The Lifelong Pursuit Of Meaning by Steven Pressfield

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t And Other Tough-Love Truths To Make You A Better Writer by Steven Pressfield

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon 

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use it for Life by Twyla Thorp

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron 

A Technique For Producing Ideas by James Webb Young

A Still Small Voice by Echo Bodine

Change Your Questions Change Your Life by Marlee Adams

The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday

The Four-Hour WorkWeek by Tim Ferris

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

Atomic Habits: An Easy Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

The Success System That Never Fails by William Clement Stone

Good to Great By Jim Collins

Soulfully Yours,

Shannon McCaffery

Shannon McCaffery

Strategic Marketing Coach & Consultant

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the Creative Act A way of being

The Creative Act: A Way of Being By Rick Rubin


Hey there, I'm Shannon! Being a voracious reader and passionate about learning, I started this site in the hopes of sharing my thoughts and my love of inspiring nonfiction books that can help you. It's kind of like Buddha meets business. I truly hope you enjoy!

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