One of the best pieces of advice I ever read, from everyone from Larry David to Bill Watterson, was if you want to have great ideas, always carry a notepad.
I’ve been carrying a small notepad in my back pocket for over 15 years and it hasn’t failed me yet. Ideas don’t come when you sit down to write. They come at that moment between swiping your Metcard on the subway and walking down the steps, so you’d better have a pen and a notepad to catch it at the bottom of those steps.
That way, when you get home and sit to write out ideas, you have a whole notepad full of sparks to work from. You aren’t tapping your pencil against your chin wondering how the hell to make up a funny idea.
It’s the number one answer to the number one question that myself and every other cartoonist gets asked: Where do you get your ideas?
It also helps if you’re learning to draw, or just want to get better at spontaneous doodling. I always had trouble drawing hands and mouths, so every time I had an idle moment I’d opt against fiddling with my phone (a miracle) for the only thing I enjoy more, which is filling notebooks with all kinds of mouths and hands in all kinds of positions and angles.
Want to advance to master-level note-taking? Get your best ideas in the shower?
Do what I do — grab yourself some waterproof Aqua Notes. A comedian friend of mine recommended them to me a couple of years ago and they’ve been amazing for capturing those soapy ideas before they circle the drain. The time between turning on the shower tap and drying yourself off is the number one best time to get creative ideas. Make sure you don’t play music or listen to podcasts during this time. It’s critical!
You can grab yourself some Aquanotes at Amazon.