Create: Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Stuff by Stephen Altrogge

Create: Stop Making Excuses and Start Making StuffAre you creative? According to Stephen Altrogge, the answer to that question is always “yes.” Not convinced? Then Create: Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Stuff is for you.

This is one of those rare books that not only entertained and informed me but blessed me. At the time I read it, I needed to be reminded of my role as an image-bearer of God and of the creative potential present in even the most ordinary job.

Altrogge reminded me that each of us is made with a desire to create things – art, literature, an informative spreadsheet, furniture, etc because we are made in God’s image. No matter my profession, it can be a creative outlet used to help those around me and make the world a better place. Not only that but such work glorifies the Creator. He says:

Our motive for doing any sort of creative work, whether that’s writing a novel or creating a Power Point presentation or planting a garden, should be the honor and glory of God.

The overarching message of the book is found in the title, we (Christians especially) should stop finding excuses not to be creative and get to work. Altrogge covers several of the  most common reasons we don’t create such as fear of failure, perfectionism, lack of time and inability to properly process criticism. All of these boil down to putting myself ahead of God and others. My fear of failure means I’m putting what people think of me in line before what God thinks of me. My perfectionism is the outgrowth of my belief that I should be able to do something without having to practice or without any kind of learning curve – and what is that but sinful arrogance? And my perceived lack of time? That is often the result of busyness used to cover laziness. Strong words but words I needed to hear and I suspect that many others do as well.

One of the most helpful things in the book is the idea of making creativity a habit and keeping at it, little by little. He smashes the notion of the inspired artist having an epiphany and going away for a weekend and coming back with the next great American novel. Most creative work he maintains is done by people snatching 15 minutes here or a half-hour there.

Each chapter ends with a question to drive home the point of the chapter and get the reader moving in the right direction.

I highly recommend this book, certainly to those who see themselves as creative types but especially to those who don’t. We’re all capable of creativity, we just need to take the bull by the horns and get on with it, or put another way:

The muse does not descend upon those who wait. The creative muse descends upon those who grab hold of it, put it in a headlock, and force it into submission.

Read this book, then grab the muse and get going!

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