I do a lot of writing in my studio on the desk on the other side of the room that you can't see in this picture. I have bookshelves filled with favorite cartoon and art books and I have my iPad nearby. I try not to do any research on the iPad until after I'm done writing. I save researching facts, details or spelling for the sketching phase of the process so not to get distracted or completely sidelined by checking my email. (Side note: The studio is never this neat)
I have always found that motion and physical exercise help me generate ideas. I have my iPhone with me on the bike in case I need to jot down (or tell Siri to remember) a note but I find the bike more of an idea-marinater. I can leave for a ride with a creative problem (how to lay out a scene, which words to choose) and have a solution by the time I get back home. The same goes for running. I get so inspired by nature and my brain gets so happy whizzing by beautiful scenery.
Whenever I'm on vacation I seem to get a steady stream of ideas while I'm lounging around. It probably has the most to do with being relaxed.
Maybe it's the bottomless cup of coffee but even when I'm drinking tea, something about the diner or Starbucks fires up my thought process. It helps me to get out of the studio and be around other people even if I'm not interacting with them. I work well with background noise and music.
Watching Water Boil
I have no idea why but I get a lot of ideas first thing in the morning while I'm standing in the kitchen waiting for my water to boil for my coffee or tea. There is a bit of a magic hour when I first wake up. Maybe it's because I'm still asleep.
Ideas always seem to come up when I'm working on other cartoons. I've found some gems scribbled in the margins of my daily to-do lists as I'm cranking out another deadline. I've learned to quickly transfer these ideas to my idea notebook--once they're gone, they're gone. I guess once my brain is in fast forward working new ideas feel free to make their way to the surface of my brain.