I have a big red 5 subject notebook. It's chaos. In it, I keep just about every book related thought that occurs to me. A snippet of conversation overheard. The lavenderness of a summer evening in the woods, and the way the gnats rise from the undergrowth in a wavering mass. The careless courage of a curious young fawn. Images, solutions, inspirations, dreams. They all go into the big red notebook for further consideration.
I had intentions of keeping it organized, since it was divided into useful sections, but I discovered the sections didn't mean anything in the end. Is an image gathered from the space between dreaming and waking an inspiration? A piece of story? A plot solution? i don't know. It's just what it is: a flash of thought that might prove useful later. So putting them in different places just made them harder to find later when I wanted to remember what was so important i wrote it down so as not to forget it, and now I've forgotten both the thing and where I put it.
Stephen King said in his book, "On Writing", that he doesn't write anything down, because the good ideas stick. (I'm paraphrasing.) I find I lose too much with this philosophy, and I wish I had written more down. I can always discard, but an idea lost seems to be gone forever. Having said all that, I have held on tightly to enormous amounts of garbage. Or maybe they were flashes of unmitigated genius lost to the vagueness of the entries. Some notes, unmoored from their original thoughts, are of no use to me without them.
So what do you do? Do you keep track? Write down? Let go? Let's talk about it.