Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oct Book Club - Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko (continued)

The book club, hosted by Deb Prewitt of Blue Twig Studio, continued with the book: Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko for the month of October (see last month's post).  Deb has many good comments in her blog post. Some people finished the book, but some still didn't get the book finished - I'm one of those. I only got through about 2/3 of the book. However, the book is long with many techniques, examples, and exercises, making it difficult to read very quickly.

Thinkertoys is about changing how you think. It is mainly related to business, but can be applied to art and creativity or other areas in your life. The book is divided into sections for logical thinking and intuitive thinking with many real-life examples (right and left brain thinking makes more sense to me).  Michalko uses illustrations, as well, that include optical illusions, puzzles, brain teasers, and reversals, which he terms "Janusian thinking", named for the Roman god Janus, who had two faces that looked in opposite directions. These were fun to figure out and see how he applied them to the technique he was explaining in a particular chapter.

This book's main purpose is to help enable thinking outside the box. As Deb reminded us, many of us think in the same way no matter what the problem or challenge is -  we tackle the problem or the challenge in the ways we have learned all of our lives. It is difficult to change this.

The exercises in the logical sections of the book made sense to me and I figured these would be the easiest for me to understand and try, since I have engineering degrees and engineers tend to think in a more logical manner. However, I found that some of the intuitive exercises were some of the ways I found solutions to problems over the years. In particular, one I use is where you either dream about the problem and let your subconscious solve it in your dreams, or the one in which you let your unconscious mind work on the problem as you are falling to sleep and wake yourself before falling into a deep sleep and write down the ideas you unconscious mind came up with.  My father always sleeps on problems and almost always figures out the answer by morning. He discussed these with the family often. Generally, I take longer than my father to find a solution.

I applied this technique recently to a quilt challenge the guild I belong to issued for this year's challenge. We are to make 2 quilts, both 18" wide by 48" high - one about our origins, and the other quilt about where we live now, AZ. The challenge is called "States of Mine."  I readily came up with an idea for AZ  - a flower I photographed in our front yard.  However, I was stuck on the origins quilt. What did Ohio mean to me? Fall? My grandfather's farm? His pond where we spent so many hours? What??  I had a photo of the farm in the fall that I want to quilt or paint. However, it just didn't fit the long, vertical format. My grandfather's pond where we camped, had cook-outs, swam, fished, ice-skated - so many memories - it works better in a horizontal, not a vertical format. Fall leaves? - I already painted a photo of these and didn't want to do them again. Nothing else was making me excited. I slept on it for over a month. It came to me over several nights as I dreamed about the sky, stars, the Milky Way, the moon, Neil Armstrong walking on the moon (he did this on my birthday and we watched through the telescope - Neil Armstrong is from Ohio close to where we grew up), my father getting us up many nights to look through the telescope at the moon and stars. I've had an interest in astronomy since childhood.  When we visit family in Ohio, I always go out at night to look at the Milky Way and the stars, or when we camp out in the desert, I look at the stars, as we usually take a telescope with us. As I was talking about it to a friend, it just hit me what I'd been dreaming about - the Milky Way. My challenge quilt will be the the  Milky Way, if I can get it finished by the challenge deadline!

A long story to explain how I used the dreaming technique explained in Michalko's book. I want to try some of the other techniques, too.

This is a very good reference book to help think outside the box. My husband is also enjoying reading the book, as he has a small business. He feels it will help give him ideas.

Next month's book is The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe. Sounds like an interesting book for November. But I've been intrigued by some of the Impressionists for many years.

Join us for book club. It would be more fun to interact with everyone at the store, Blue Twig Studio, in Colorado, but  I enjoy participating online via blogs and facebook.

Keep creating!!


  1. I love this story and how you used the techniques to find your answer. Often we use the dream technique without even realizing it. We fall asleep worrying over a problem, and then in the morning we wake up with the answer. I keep a pad of paper and pen next to my bed for when I wake up with one of those aha moments and jot it down. Of course, I often can't read what I wrote the next day, but the act of writing it usually helps me remember it.

    1. I usually can't read my writing or tell what I was sketching either when I jot notes immediately upon waking from a dream I want to remember. Can get a kick out of deciphering my chicken scratching, though!