Earlier I was proselytising on the merits of keeping a notebook for one’s creative writing, so this is kinda geared towards that, but keeping a notebook for any kind of projekt is a Brilliant Idea and mine tend to be somewhat multi-purpose (because I’m lazy and when I need to write something down I grab the nearest piece of paper, which is often my pocket notebook).
While I say notebook, you can use anything that suits you. I mean, I use a sketchbook myself. I find lined paper offputting, because it encourages me to write in a neat & structured fashion, which is not how I write AT ALL. Ahem. In sketchbooks, my writing can be as large/tiny/scrawly as I feel is suitable and it doesn’t matter. I can turn the page on its side, I can draw pictures, I can stick things in . . . I can do whatever the hell I like, and I like that. Other people like ringbinders, because they can order & arrange as they go. Still others like putting everything in a big folder in no particular, kind of like a treasure trove. Still more others like lined notebooks because they keep things tidy & legible. If you find your usual medium gives you Blank Page Syndrome — i.e. you acquire writer’s block every time you look at it — try experimenting. I rarely ever have Blank Page Syndrome anymore, and thus far I have filled up five sketchbooks with my ideas. Which is why it’s a good idea to number them.
Now, this Almighty Notebook is not really the place to pen your masterpiece in one fell swoop, although sometimes you might find yourself writing reams & reams of brilliant prose and that’s dandy. But on the whole, this notebook is for keeping notes. It’s for ideas & possibilities, character exploration, sources of inspiration & research. You can include pictures, poems, book extracts, diagrams, technical information — anything. If you go off on tangents sometimes, it doesn’t matter. (In fact, I need to remove the odd Things to Do list from mine.) Ideally, your notebook should not be too big to carry around everywhere; but if you like large notebooks, you can always make notes on bits of paper when you’re out & about and copy/stick them into your main notebook later.
If you happen to feel that your notebook is growing too unwieldy, you can always keep a second notebook for copying things out nicely. Although, personally, I find editing on paper a terribly troublesome business, because sooner or later it all turns into a girt big mess. So I like to do my editing on my computer. (Which is called Orac, incidentally. It was passed on to me and is faster than my big clunky old one, which I call Zen.)
I avow that keeping a notebook is completely invaluable. It provides a backup for my poor old memory and is especially useful for getting into character, which can be a slow process, with characters being very vague shadowy creatures initially. I find there’s something that comes through; the shape of them or of their minds. So I write down the odd word or phrase that seems revealing and keep coming back to it and pushing the images until they come into focus. By that time, we’re conjoined for life. Which is good, in an all-marbles-lost sort of way.
All projekts, in my convoluted experience, can go in a squillion different directions at once, and it’s worth plotting their progress. I like to keep drafts for paintings & notes on artists for my art projekts, and lookbooks, sources of inspiration and samples of yarn & fabric (with notes on prices) for clothing projekts. When I find myself amid Artistic Depression, I can read through them until I find an idea or fragment I’d forgotten about that inspires me.