This topic is rather close to my heart. I used to be an assiduous note-taker, which came with the territory, being a writer. With fiction, I took the genre name seriously: unlike many of my colleagues, I like to construct a story that’s, for the most part, indeed a fiction.
I’d generally start off with a vague premise, a thought or a description, and from there I’d carry a notebook around with me everywhere, within reach when ever the odd vagrant idea occurred to me. There was no editing. Anything remotely that struck my fancy, I’d jot down, a rather magical early phase of the process because nothing was wrong at that point, before the story was written. These jottings and ideas more than anything represented untrammeled possibility.
After 7 pages (14 panels), I’d type them up and from out of the murk, a short story usually emerged. Not in perfect order certainly, but mixed in like a puzzle amidst the flotsam and jetsam. Somewhere, in the background, while I was going about the rest of my schedule, my brain must have been assembling it on its own. Or maybe it’s about relaxing and letting the story come to me.
I try not to dissect it too much. It’s been the launchpad, so to speak, for my first book, a collection of short stories. Then, my second book, too, a collection of 3 novellas–really all my fiction.
My recent output has been non-fiction, though, and the pad seems like an old friend during that exercise: somehow not essential to the process, perhaps because I’m not fabricating the piece out of air. Who knows? Pads are simply a great, a chance to record an idea even if it’s not yet a coherent thought.