You Can Squeeze By-Products from Your Creative Works

by | Creating | 7 comments

“The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes but in seeing with new eyes.” —Marcel Proust

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

You’ve worked hard on your creative work.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get more mileage from each project?

I assure you, valuable hidden by-products wait to be discovered in the projects you’ve finished.

Discovering a by-product from one creative endeavor to use in another is a creative exercise in itself.

Here are 2 examples that show how I’ve squeezed by-products from my creative endeavors.


Example 1.

by MrMagic

by MrMagic

My first grandson spent almost every Sunday afternoon and some weekends with my husband and I. We came up with adventures for our times together. Walks in the woods, pretending we were the characters in the stories we read to him. Airshows, treasure hunts, building cities with blocks and plastic roads. Finding the perfect walking sticks to keep the lions away. Even a trip to Florida.

Then, during the years I was learning to write fiction, my grandson turned seven. I wrote a novel about a young American woman who travels to a mountain mission in Costa Rica. She ends up on an adventure with a seven-year-old American girl, whom she protects from thugs hunting for the child.

From our adventures with my seven-year-old grandson, I knew just how a seven-year-old talked and thought. I knew how silly or sad or wise a seven-year-old could be. For my by-product novel, I milked his mannerisms, things he said, how he moved, his facial expressions, his emotions and fears, and his jokes for my story. All from the creative play and adventures with my grandson.

I didn’t sell the novel, but the one thing the editor commented on in her rejection was her interest in the relationship and interactions between the woman and the child.

Example 2.

Prayer Beads

Prayer Beads

Some years ago, I self-published two books of contemporary Christian short stories. After giving dramatic readings of some of the stories in several venues, an idea hit me for a by-product of my stories.

The theme of two of the stories was prayer. Using those two stories, I developed a workshop on prayer. Interspersed between dramatic readings of the stories, we broke into discussion groups, and ended the workshop with a fun craft. I was invited to give the workshop several times. This by-product from my short stories was the springboard to other types of speaking engagements.

To squeeze by-products from creative works, get into the habit of looking for elements within them that can be used in a new project.


  • Discover and squeeze valuable by-products from your creative works.
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What by-product have you squeezed from one of your creative works?

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  1. Jane Foard Thompson

    I’m working on a product for my WIP, Listen to the Wind . The series will be The Keeper of the Shell. My sister-in-law designs fine jewelry, and she is collecting shells in St Croix, where the story begins with the shell from a beach there. She will design a necklace similar to what my character wore. I have several plans to offer a shell necklace for various promotions online, and can do so if/when I get speaking engagements.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      That is such a great idea, Jane.

  2. Marcia A. Lahti

    I like to cut snowflakes out of paper, use paint or pastels to color stamped teacups, and lately I’ve been hand cutting feathers. I have inspirational stories that use a snowflake and a teacup to illustrate their encouragement, and in Rachael Hauck’s Love Starts With Elle, feathers appear at various times throughout the book, reminding people that God does send angels. I’ve used my snowflakes, teacups and now feathers in my writing ministry.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      You use your creativity so well in your ministries, Marcia. I’m sure the recipients appreciate those creative touches.

  3. Delia Latham

    I sure thought I left a comment here already, but…well, I am over 50. lol

    Zoe, these are great ideas. I’ve never been good at coming up with ways to “by-product” my work, but I’m working on it.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Delia, Thanks for stopping by. I think it’s easier to think of by-products when I’m in need for another project. I incorporated a true faith story into a retreat presentation I’m doing in May. I needed an opening for a church function. That story popped right into my head.

  4. Laurean Brooks

    Thank you for the tip, Zoe. Something similar I do is save scenes an editor cuts, (ones I really didn’t want to give up), for a future manuscript

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