As an artist works with paper and paint, ink from a pen or lead from a pencil, I work with paper and words. To find words, I'm always reading and jotting down words and phrases from newspaper and magazine stories (both in print and online) and books. In the 20+ years I've been writing cartoon gags, I've gone through many notebooks. I have paper and pens in almost every room of my house...just in case.
Lately I've been looking for new words and phrases by going through books with lists of idioms and clichés. These lists have been very helpful in creating ideas for cartoons. They're available in most library's non-fiction and reference sections. I take them home whenever possible and keep renewing them if I can. Of course, this same information can, I'm sure, be found online.
Over this Fourth of July weekend, sitting on a chair under an umbrella at the beach, I reread "The Naked Cartoonist," by Bob Mankoff...a very good book filled with useful ideas for generating single-panel cartoons. So, I got to spend a beautiful, relaxing day at the beach and didn't feel guilty because I came up with several new ideas for cartoons. We'll see if any of them sell!
Have a productive week!