Thanks for the kind words— I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my comics.
To address your question: coming up with ideas can be difficult, especially if you sit down and think to yourself, “I must come up with a good idea.” As soon as you start thinking that, there will inevitably be another little voice in your head whose only purpose seems to be to tell you that your ideas aren’t good enough. Don’t listen to that guy. He’s a jerk and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
I’ve found that it’s more important to create a headspace that will allow ideas (all ideas), to wander around your brain as they wish, without fear of judgment. Sometimes that unassuming person at the party is the most interesting individual in the room if you give them a chance to talk. Everyone works a little differently, but here are some things that help me, and I hope they’re of use to you too:
- Remove distractions - I find it hard to think while watching TV, checking facebook, carrying on a conversation, or even listening to music with lyrics. It helps to close your computer and listen to some instrumental music. I recommend Boards of Canada, Mozart, or some of the tracks available from Music for Programming.
- Give yourself time - If I think, “I can’t wait to finish this comic so I can go to bed,” I’m not really in it for the comic. But if I sit down expecting to spend an hour or so making comics, then I’m more likely to enjoy the experience.
- Stop making sense - Drawing a comic every day is an exercise, not your magnum opus. It doesn’t have to be funny. It doesn’t have to be anything. Writing good punchlines is difficult, but drawing a few panels of surreal nonsense, or just contemplating a moment can be really fun and enjoyable.
- Draw things you like to draw - Like drawing dinosaurs? Draw one. Wasn’t that fun? I wonder what else that dinosaur could do. You have a few more panels to find out…
- Surprise yourself - It gets boring when everyone is saying the same thing over and over and over again. There’s not much more to say about t-rex having small arms, or Pluto not being a planet. Whenever I start to feel bored with an idea, I try to think two or three degrees removed from my first impulse. I.e.: 1st impulse) A lumberjack encounters a bear. 2nd) A lumberjack is friends with a bear. 3rd) A lumberjack asks his bear friend to help him write a poem. That’s a much more interesting idea than my first impulse would indicate.
- Restrictions are good - Limits can force you to come up with more inventive solutions. Do a week of wordless comics, or a week of comics surrounding a specific theme, or do comics in a different style, or with different tools than you normally use.
- Sometimes it’s just difficult and nothing helps - Maybe you’re hungry, or overtired, maybe someone said something rude to you earlier and you’re still thinking about it. Sometimes you’ll be inconsolable even if everything else is great. So draw something simple and unfunny, put the pen down, and try again tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be.
I could probably keep rambling, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Hopefully there’s something useful in there. Results may vary.
Best of luck with the #30DaysComics challenge!