There are times when the ideas just aren't flowing. For those of us who need to come up with a lot of ideas on a regular basis, this could be problematic. I help myself, first of all, by keeping a regular schedule, which entails a lot of reading followed by a lot of writing. I read several publications on a regular basis. First of all, I read my daily newspaper, Newsday, for national and local news. I also read the Sunday New York Times. Because I write a lot of business gags, I read Harvard Business Review, Barron's and the Wall Street Journal. Because keeping up with trends is so important, I read a Long Island regional magazine, called Long Island Pulse. It's filled with feature stories about trends in cooking, fashion, dining out and sports. For the same reasons I read Reader's Digest and USA Today because they regularly discuss what's trending.
Because I write a lot of gags about restaurants, food and cooking, I read books about restaurants, food and cooking. Words, phrases, expressions, trends...all this "stuff" goes into my notebook and is the raw material for future gags. I guess it's like having a large variety of paint on your canvas before you paint anything.
When I get really stumped, I go through books of cartoon collections. For me, this has always been a sure-fire way of creating new ideas. For example, I'll see a published cartoon about a boss and a worker talking about the fact that there will be no pay raises. This leads me to keep the same setting, but write my own, original caption about the fact that there will be no pay raises. Or maybe I see a cartoon about an applicant talking to a hirer about his qualifications, or lack thereof, and I'll write a new caption about the same topic. You have to keep all kinds of resources available to you.
At this moment I have thousands of gags on my desk. Most have been sent to various cartoonists and rejected. I regularly go through these "rejects" and send them out to other cartoonists. I'm also constantly editing them and slanting them toward other markets. For example, a gag about a child and his parent can easily be slanted to be about a worker and a boss.
So I guess I can say that when I get in a writing slump I read. I read something interesting to me, take notes and, later, come back and do the actual writing. But going through cartoon collections, especially collections of New Yorker cartoons, has been a great source of inspiration.
I hope this has been helpful. Any comments or questions about this entry, contact me at: email@example.com.