Some observations and good advice from Steven Johnson, the author of “Where Good Ideas Come From”:
most good ideas (whether they’re ideas for narrative structure, a particular twist in the argument, or a broader topic) come into our minds as hunches: small fragments of a larger idea, hints and intimations. Many of these ideas sit around for months or years before they coalesce into something useful, often by colliding with another hunch. (I wrote a chapter about this phenomenon in my last book, Where Good Ideas Come From.)
The problem with hunches is that it’s incredibly easy to forget them, precisely because they’re not fully-baked ideas. You’re reading an article, and a little spark of an idea pops into your head, but by the time you’ve finished the article, you’re checking your email, or responding to some urgent request from your colleague, and the next thing you know, you’ve forgotten the hunch for good.
I call mine Idea Log. Today, it is in Evernote but it was in several places including some blog posts, desktop wikis, documents and email messages to self. Steven describes the motivation for keeping this spark file.
the most interesting part of the experience, which is the feeling of reading through your own words describing new ideas as they are occurring to you for the first time.
There is nothing to match that feeling. It is also amazing to see how many others have had similar ideas and how some of them even turned them into successful products.