I went down an internet rabbit hole recently. Okay, that happens a lot, but the one I'm thinking about had to do with the inspiration and productivity habits of several creative people I admire.
Each one had some way of tracking that unrelenting random firing of synapses, aka unrelated thoughts that spring forth without warning and dissipate quickly if not captured immediately. Usually it's just a notebook and a pen carried religiously and used frequently.
I haven't found one creative writer who doesn't have some analog system of tracking thoughts. Writers love paper it seems. And pens. And probably office supply stores.
David Sedaris says to write down EVERYTHING that grabs you; that "everybody's got an eye for something."
The Key is the Container
But the key to creativity, I think, is then pulling all the random thoughts together later. And being diligent and ritualized about transferring your jottings and your incomplete thoughts to your diary or your log book, index cards, computer, wherever. To your container for your ideas.
I think of this journal/log book as a stew pot, where ideas go to marinate, where bits of information go to meet, marry and emerge as new ideas, knowledge.
- Train your senses (eyes, ears, intuition, whatever) on what interests you (what you have an eye for);
- Capture those interesting bits;
- Transfer the small pieces into the larger container and see what emerges as new and fresh connections.