You Can Squeeze By-Products from Your Creative Works

“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?

How to Find People Who’ll Sharpen You and Your Creative Work

“Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other.” —Proverbs 27:17 NIV


You’re tired of hearing what you want to hear and going nowhere. Deep down you know your creative work could improve.

Like a cotton ball can’t hone a sharp edge on cotton candy, fawning and insincere people can’t help you become a solid crafter in your creative field.

After many years, I’m becoming a sharp iron wedge with WRITER chiseled into my face. I’m grateful to those who’ve sharpened me. Here are the activities that honed me the most.

1.   Join Groups

Image courtesy of criminalatt at
Image courtesy of criminalatt at

In groups, you’ll meet experienced people who can sharpen you. These iron wedges frequent  groups to fine-tune their own chiseling edges and to mentor and teach others. So, join:

  • National and local groups
  • Conferences
  • Email or online discussion boards
  • Accountability groups
  • Character-building groups
Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan at
Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan at


  • Look for groups that:
    • Share successes
    • Promote one another
    • Share information and opportunities
    • Encourage each other
  • Seek participants in these groups who care enough to sharpen people with truth, excellence, and gentle firmness. Be ready to reciprocate.
  • Join groups outside your creative field. A friend writes stories with hockey settings. She took an 8-week hockey course.
  • Join groups that sharpen your character. For me, studies delving into Biblical truths and calling me to live up to God’s commands sharpen me.
  • Participate often in your selected groups and develop friendships.

2.   Seek People Who Will Sharpener You personally.

  • Critique partner
  • Mentor
  • Coach
  • Contest judges
  • Professionals


  • Look for partners who care enough to sharpen you with truth, excellence, and gentle firmness.
  • Give your best in critique groups. Then invite one or two to team with you. Those who:
    Image courtesy of anekoho at
    Image courtesy of anekoho at
    • give their best back;
    • want you to succeed as much as you do;
    • you want them to succeed as much as they do;
    • give and receive constructive criticism well; and
    • are committed to the critiquing process.

  • Listen to contest judges or editors. If you disagree with them:
    • kill your pride and learn from them;
    • realize something hit the judges or editors the wrong way, and they made the effort to comment;
    • look deeper and be sharpened; and
    • relax—it’s you who decides how you’ll use their help.
  • Seek accountability partners who don’t let you off the hook. God is my first-line accountability partner, but my friends in Forward March help me also. Look for new partners who’ll:
    • review your goals and progress;
    • push you to move forward;
    • encourage you to dust yourself off and start fresh when you’ve had a bad week.

Being sharpened can be painful. But ultimately, chiseling through hard work successfully and sharpening others’ creative edges is a great reward.


  • Look for people who care enough to sharpen you with truth, excellence, and gentle firmness.
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What did the person who sharpened you most do for you?

4 Steps to Capture Time to Do Your Creative Work

“One definition of maturity is learning to delay pleasure. Children do what feels good; adults devise a plan and follow it.” —Dave Ramsey

Image courtesy of coward_lion at
Image courtesy of coward_lion at

Your book, painting, or speech is important. You want to have peace in progressing on your project. But there’s no time anymore.

Here are 4 steps to capture peace in this hectic world. Don’t worry. I won’t tell you to work faster. We have our own paces that can be improved only so much.

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at
Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at

1.   Outlooks

I’m taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class. He teaches us to view money, our needs, and our wants in a new light. Under God’s principles, we can be debt-free and have money to save, spend, and give. Ramsey says we, not banks, ads, or credit cards, need to tell our money where to go. This is a new outlook.

The same is true for our time. We, not other people or things,  need to tell our time what it should go to. Under God’s principles, we can be rush-free and have time to work, play, and help others.

Image courtesy of worradmu at
Image courtesy of worradmu at

2.   Behaviors

In Ramsey’s class, he tells us we can’t be debt-free and have money to save, spend, and give if we don’t change our behavior. He says we must have a budget we live by that tells every cent of our income where we want it to go. For most of us, this is new behavior.

The same is true for our time. We must change our behavior. We need to have a budget we live by that tells every minute what we decide it’ll go to. If we need help, we can join an accountability group.

For example, I divide my weekdays into 5 blocks of time and assign the work, play, and help I’ll do in each.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

3.    Trade-Offs

From Ramsey’s class, he tells us in creating our monthly budget we’ll have trade-offs. Our actual or estimated income is fixed in our budgets. If we decide to do one thing with our money, it means we can’t do something else with it. What we tell our money to do is about making wise trade-offs.

The same is true for our time. Our time is fixed. We need to make wise trade-offs of our time.

If we decide to shop with a friend, spend hours on social media, and sleep in an extra hour on workdays, that’s fine. We get to decide. But what will we trade-off so we can do these things? Time with the kids? Making progress on our creative work? Read a book? We decide.

Image courtesy of anankkml at
Image courtesy of anankkml at

4.   Emergencies

In Ramsey’s class, we learn to set up an emergency fund so our budgets aren’t attacked when crises arise.

The same is true for our time. We need to build in emergency time into our time budgets. With one to two hours built into your weekly budget for true emergencies, you’ll protect your planned goals.


  • We can complete our creative work in rush-free peace.
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How do you fit your creative work into a week’s time?