Chicken Scratch

Lessons on Living Creatively from a Flock of Hens

Chicken Scratch

Lessons on Living Creatively from a Flock of Hens

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Creativity comes into play in just about any field. Looking at situations from different perspectives, finding new uses for old things, combining disparate ideas or ingredients or even colors--all are creative endeavors. And when writer Ann Byle became a chicken owner, she began to look at her hens with new interest and the keen eye of an artist. Even though chicken-tending proved to have its own challenges, Byle discovered that her feathered friends offered surprising lessons and inspiration for her own work, lessons on living creatively.

With Chicken Scratch, Ann Byle brings us good fun and meaning-making at the intersection of creative living and our egg-laying friends. She mixes quotes, stories from all kinds of creatives, and practical advice to help all of us invested in living more creatively. Drawing inspiration from her flock of hens, Byle explores curiosity and courage, embracing your creative self and letting go of what holds you back, and living well in the creative life. Each chapter includes questions for journaling, next-steps-in-creativity exercises, and a sidebar from "The Left-Brain Chicken," putting solid process-related steps to each chapter.

The creative life can be profound, but also funny, exasperating, and downright weird--much like living with a flock of hens. If we take the time to notice, we have much to learn from our beloved chickens, things like the value of curiosity, how we might welcome challenges in our lives, and even when to let go of perfectionism. It's time to name our creative impulses, to claim them, and to squawk them from the rooftops!


"If you love chickens, or if you're a creative, you have to get this  book-book-kaka-book!  Ann Byle has taken two of her greatest loves and melded them into an entertaining and enlightening story of what makes us—and chickens—tick.  Delightful!"

Angela Hunt, author and chicken keeper 

"The benefits of raising a small flock of chickens reaches far beyond a basket of delicious, fresh eggs. Ann Byle has rounded up a diverse group of chicken keepers and creatives who share their sage perspectives on both the creative process and why they're in favor of a backyard full of friendly, fluffy feathered friends."

Lisa Steele, founder of Fresh Eggs Daily®, Coop to Kitchen® Cook, and CreateTV Host

"This is the hug, the breath, and salt-of-the-earth wisdom we need right now. Escaping to Ann's house is like going to your loving grandma's and your best friend's house, at the same time. She welcomes you in with a story and a spot of insight that leave you skipping back to your own home with joyous hope."

Rebeca Seitz, bestselling author of The Neapolitan Series

"I do not know how Ann Byle could possibly have penned a book on creativity by simply observing a flock of chickens. But this I know... the book you hold is an extraordinary achievement, combining humor, inspiration, and encouragement for the creative life. Writing with warmth, wit, and wisdom, Ann unearths the creativity hiding in a chicken coop and uses her insights to inspire and equip those on their own creative journeys. Chicken Scratch is, in itself, a testament to human creativity and the meaningful life lessons that can be found in our own backyard."

Glenys Nellist, author of the Love Letters from God, Little Mole, and Snuggle Time series

"Rekindle your creative passions with this charming read filled with chicken and golden nuggets. A tremendous accomplishment!"

Don Perini, Professor of Creativity and Innovation and author of Emerge

Clever and quirky—much like its author—Chicken Scratch is a treasure. Ann has combined expert insights on the principles of creativity with practical suggestions for developing one's talents and skills, as well as tips for good business practices, and then added a generous dash of humor and storytelling. It's like the perfect serving of scrambled eggs: delicious and satisfying!

Ann-Margret Hovsepian, author of the Restore My Soul devotional coloring book

"Consider this: The most successful bird species today is the domestic chicken, with a global population of 24 billion birds. Chickens rule because they shrewdly trained eight billion humans to generously provide for them, so Ann Byle has the numbers on her side when she talks chicken. Meanwhile and over on the right side of our brains, Ann brings a winsome voice, encouragement and, yes, creative flair to her effort. If the only chickens you handle are tucked between slices of a sandwich bun, prepare yourself for a more wholesome treat between the covers of  Chicken Scratch."

Dwight Baker, Baker Book House Company

"From beginning to end, Chicken Scratch taught me more than I came prepared to learn. From the resources, quotes, to proper caretaking of chickens and an understanding of their inquisitive and endearing nature, Ann takes you on a unique and masterfully melded journey. This city girl was immediately transported back to her younger Charlotte's Web-loving years and reminded that creativity lives within all of us!"

Beth Fisher, speaker, leadership coach, and author of Remorseless: Learning to Lose Labels, Expectations, and Assumptions—Without Losing Yourself

"Chicken Scratch will inspire you to take risks, discover connections, follow curiosity, and form a kind of nest—a nourishing space where your creative ventures have time to incubate and hatch."

Ann Kroeker, writing coach, podcaster, and co-author of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts

"Chicken Scratch is one of those 'pleasure to read' books that grabs your brain with fun and interesting stories, well-researched tidbits, and compassion. Creativity is a feature of being human no matter where you are, and when we're being creative we're often at our best. Ann Byle offers us wisdom, encouragement, and inspiration."

David Morris, author of Lost Faith and Wandering Souls: A Psychology of Disillusionment, Mourning, and the Return of Hope, Publisher and Literary Agent, Publisher of Lake Drive Books

This winsome book is for any creative who wants to spark their imaginations even more, and for those who want to tap into their creativity like never before. I loved hearing from fellow creatives—writers, poets, knitters, chefs, musicians, and Etsy artists—about their creative processes. And as I learned fascinating tidbits about these fluffed up creatures, I gleaned surprising insights and lessons from chickens themselves. The result is a deepened respect for the creative process, not to mention chickens as a species.

Lorilee Craker, Podcaster of Eat Like a Heroine, editor, and author of 15 books, including  A is Adam, A is for Atticus, and the New York Times bestseller Through the Storm  with Lynne Spears.

"Chicken people aren't going to be able to resist, and non-chicken creatives are going to be fascinated and engaged by this fun, unexpected resource helping us to persevere in our development. A great call to all creatives; entertaining while also challenging, inspirational and humorous."

Lori Melton, spiritual director and owner of The Sanctuary at Bear Creek


"Artists of all stripes will delight in this upbeat offering."

Publishers Weekly

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506484136
  • eBook ISBN 9781506484143
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 7.25
  • Pages 193
  • Publication Date May 23, 2023