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?

You Can Get Creative and Never Grow Old

“Have nothing to do with growing old—but fall in love with growing older.” — J. Ellsworth Kalas

Image courtesy of jiggoja at
Image courtesy of jiggoja at

Are you growing older? According to J. Ellsworth Kalas, in his book, I Love Growing Older but I’ll Never Grow Old, this is far from a duh-yes question. Kalas says, “Older is a journey. Old is a destination.” Whereas Kalas’s destination is heaven, for others it might be sourness.

What I address today is how we can get creative to stay on life’s journey and never stop at the destination called bitterness. I’ll give examples to get your creative juices flowing.

mage courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at
mage courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at

A person who is “growing older” learns new things.

  • Take a writing or art class and write and illustrate stories for your grandchildren in which they are the main characters.
  • Join a scrapbooking group and learn how to create beautiful albums for each of your children. Go through your boxes of stored photos and select the best. Then pitch the rest so your children don’t have to do that job after you’re gone.
  • Learn to play the guitar or keyboard and visit nursing homes and prisons with your church or other groups and share age-appropriate music.
Image courtesy of nuttakit at
Image courtesy of nuttakit at

A person who is “growing older” develops relationships.

  • Build a friendship with someone who’s older than you.
    • A homebound person. Be consistent in your visit schedule. Bring tea and cookies, read a book together, assemble a 300 large-piece jigsaw puzzle, listen to her stories.
    • A mentor. Look for an expert to teach you a “dying” art: canning, gardening, knitting, tatting lace, woodworking, sewing.
    • An Octogenarian. Record her stories. Start a historical blog and share real life stories.
  • Grow a friendship with someone who’s younger than you.
    • A child without a parent or grandparents. Create a road and businesses and play cars (have a police car for those speeders), play restaurant with plastic food (take turns being a server, a cook, and a patron).
    • Join interest groups attended by people of a wide range of ages. Writers groups, book clubs, a church choir.
  • Schedule “date night” with your spouse whether you have children in your home or not. Try something new. Dancing lessons, a sport, dinner with friends in a different nationality restaurant each week, geocaching.


mage courtesy of nongpimmy at
mage courtesy of nongpimmy at

A person who is “growing older” helps others.

  • Use your expertizes from your still active or retired career to help others. Help with someone’s taxes, show a novice how to plant a garden, change the oil in a widow’s car, give an art lesson, tutor a student, pray for others.
  • Volunteer in something new to you. In a food pantry, at the voting poles, as a chaperone for a teen mission trip, teaching Sunday school or Vacation Bible School, at Habitat for Humanity, driving people to doctor appointments or the grocery store.
  • Write a blog sharing information you’ve learned. How to: write fiction, research genealogy, make the best deviled eggs, travel across the country in an RV.

Get involved in learning, building relationships, and helping others. You’ll grow older in a wonderful life journey.

What are activities you do to grow older gracefully in your journey?