Friday, October 29, 2010

The Thinking Chair
A post in honor of Picture Book Idea Month - November 2010 #PiBoIdMo

Productivity is everything. I produce therefore I am.

But before I can crank it out, I've got to think it out.

Thinking looks a lot like not doing anything at all. I know this because I've been caught thinking more than once in my life. It wasn't pretty. "Are you okay?" "Why don't you go out and do something?" A couple of years of that and even the most intrepid thinkers join the ranks of the doers and start accomplishing something. Anything. And learn to think on the sly while getting stuff done.

But sometimes I really need to sit down and think. I know my last post was "Stand Up and Get to Work" but this is different. This is about sitting down and getting those ideas that will lead to work.

I set up a chair just for thinking. It's a little kooky but it's working so I'm sharing. Don't worry about going out and buying a chair just for thinking. You probably have something on hand that would work out just fine. Look in the garage or attic. Shopping for the perfect chair would only serve as procrastination. Plus spending money might set up an obstacle to sitting down and doing some serious thinking.

My Thinking Chair is just a canvas lawn chair souped-up with some pillows. The great thing about a lawn chair is that I can fold it up and prop it against the wall when I need the space.

Having this place devoted to thinking helps me focus and validates the process. When it's time to start, I sit myself in the Thinking Chair. I keep a pad nearby. I keep coffee nearby. I think. I calm down and don't become overwhelmed by what is or isn't happening. This chair is where I give myself the chance to work things out. It only takes a few minutes of thought to fuel a good work session. Once I've allowed myself the time to think, to figure out what I want or need to do at that moment, I'm free. My mind is allowed to work. It's amazing what is already in our brains. Thinking is like rummaging through drawers and finding all kinds of great things we forgot we had. Sometimes I'm amused at what my brain spits out when I let it take over, when I get out of it's way with all my demands to get something done. It's like a patient friend that guides me, "You knew it all along. You just needed a chance to put it together."

The Thinking Chair is like a flag to alert the entourage: when they see me in it, they know that short of a fire or gunshot wound, I am not to be disturbed. This is serious business: brain cells are synapsing perhaps even reproducing. (I don't know if that's true but it could sound impressive in an authoritative tone of voice.)

Thinking gets a bad rap. It resembles sleep or spacing out. You run the risk of being called "lazy". Ugh. The "L" Word. But dare to sit in your Thinking Chair and think.

I think therefore I am therefore I produce.

I want to wish everyone a great Picture Book Idea Month. Here's to many thoughts sprouting lots of ideas (at least thirty!). And I want to thank Tara Lazar for thinking it up and bringing it all together for a second year.


  1. Hi,Dana!
    Your chair seems to making you relax.
    It is nice to have a personal space like your attic.
    I think it is necessary to have a calm place where we can think anything.

    These days I'm lazy.
    I've had too long rest time.
    I have to paint!

    By the way, you have chainged your job?
    You work for publishers?
    It sounds good!

  2. VERY cool idea! *races off to go find a thinking chair*

  3. Hi Julie! Thanks! I'd love to see a picture of your Thinking Chair!

  4. Hi Juri,

    Yes, a nice space for reflection & work is essential. My attic space isn't very big but I love it.

    As for changing jobs...I don't have a teaching post right now. Reading/reports for the publisher is good but not steady. I'd like more!

    And yes---you need to get painting--I love your work. Let's see something on your bog soon! :)
    Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Thanks a lot. Now I have the Blue's Clues song running through my head. "We can do anything...that we wanna do..."

  6. Reading this, I've realised that I have my 'thinking chair' too - but it isn't a chair. It's a paddock. A tramp over the paddock is an instantaneous trigger for me. Thoughts flow. Stresses flow too - I feel them uncoiling and slipping away... It's a very important part of my creativity process. My thinking chair... :)

  7. What a great idea to have a special place to channel creative thinking. I often have my best ideas in the middle of a sleepless night or first thing in the morning in the nebulous hour between wakefulness and sleep - when imagination is unleashed.

  8. I love the idea of the chair and thank you so much for the post! Good luck thinking and long may people leave you alone whilst you are in the chair!

    I am off to go obtain one of my own and a spot to put it in :)

  9. I completely agree with your thinking strategy. We don't value thinking/reflecting as highly as doing. If we never think, we can't do...that is clear. Also we neglect to appreciate what we create and fail to acknowlege what it means to us and others. I love your blog. Thoughtful, insightful and fun.

  10. Dana, your thinking chair is an appealing idea.
    I had envisioned similar chair, an armchair with a definite feminine design to the fabric. I had many thoughts about the day I find such a chair to put in my humble den. I just hope to be able to get the time out from my family.

  11. Hi Yihat,
    Nice to meet you on here.
    While you're looking for your perfect chair set up something less than perfect but comfortable that will be for you and you alone. Just 15 minutes a day might be all you need to take away from your family time. Good luck!

  12. Fabulous! I love it! I appreciate that it validates the act of thinking as a valid step in the writing (creative) process. Even though it's a lawn chair (love the quilt!) everything about it asserts "I will be taken seriously", and even more importantly, "I will take MYSELF seriously."