by Josh Nash

When you are trying to make it in a business that favors good ideas, you are going to need to get some. Easier said than done, right? It’s not the 1960s anymore when you could just send away for them by mail order catalog. (Not a lot of people know that “Where the Wild Things Are” cost Maurice Sendak $8.95 and a self addressed stamped envelope.)

So where do ideas come from? Good question. I always think of the Bright Eyes lyric by Conor Oberst about being a musician and songwriter: “I’m drinking, breathing, writing, singing. Everyday I’m on the clock.”

First, when it comes to drinking and working, I recommend coffee. But you can drink whatever you want. Tea, Black Cherry Kool-aid, Orange Julius. Second, it’s the “Everyday I’m on the clock” bit that makes the most sense to me because I like the idea of never being off the clock as an artist and a writer. It is a job we never really punch out of, isn’t it? Living a creative life is a full-time job and being open to ideas means you are always on the clock.

You are on the clock during your morning commute. Four lanes of Hondas and Subarus jockeying for the exit lane may not be the ideal setting for turning illustration or story ideas over in your head, but the creative mind never clocks out. Just be careful not to drive off the highway into a ditch especially when your last phone transmission is a text to yourself that reads “bunny has a potluck but everyone brings cups.”


Keep a notebook handy at the office because even when you are on the clock, YOU ARE ON THE CLOCK! Ideas don’t quit just because you have 150 emails to answer and Dale from Accounting is waxing interminable about his adventures in home brewing. However, you don’t want to be so focused on story ideas at your day job that you end up getting fired for being a bad employee. But if you do get fired, it would be good if you had plenty of amazing story ideas to sell. So it’s a tricky balance.


Standing in line at Starbucks? You got time to lean, you got time to clean, buddy! Ideas are working overtime at coffee shops. The right mix of caffeine and anonymous strangers milling about keep the idea synapses firing. Who is that old lady? What is her story? Who is that toddler? Why is she screaming? Why is that screaming toddler’s dad just staring at his phone while his toddler is screaming? Is he actually a cyborg dad suffering a program glitch? And there’s your idea. Write it down.

And just when you think it’s quitting time, remember that ideas work the night shift too. After you have kissed your honey or let your cat bite you goodnight, and after you have drifted into that state of half-awake, half-driving-your-bed-through-four-lanes-of-Hondas-and-Subarus because-you-are-three-hours-late-for-that-college-humanities-class-you-forgot-to-drop-in-1997, you will have one more idea. This will be a very bad idea. Do not write it down, it’s gibberish!

Ideas never take a day off. They are workaholics. All you have to do to get them is to show up, is punch your timecard and get to work. By constantly being on the clock, and making room for creative work in your daily life, whether it is writing, painting, daydreaming or doodling, ideas will come knocking at your office door, submitting their tiny résumés. And you are always considering candidates because you are always open for business. You’re always on the clock.

Josh is 50% eraser shavings, 50% animal cookies and 50% Café Americano. Josh is also horrible at math but he loves to draw. When he was very small, his mother read him books with words and pictures by Maurice Sendak, Garth Williams, Richard Scarry and Ezra Jack Keats. His dad provided him with piles of scrap paper, pens and pencils to make his own pictures. Josh is bigger now but he remembers those stories and pictures vividly. And he still loves to draw.

Josh has been drawing professionally since 2004 and has done so for the nice folks at Scholastic, Hooked on Phonics, and singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins.

When he isn’t drawing he can be found enjoying beautiful Northern California with his wife, traveling to a rainy European city, reading a book or doing any number of activities that don’t require math.

Visit him online at and on Twitter @joshuanashillus and Instagram @joshuanashillus.

Josh is giving away a signed copy of this adorable fox print.

by Joshua Nash

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