I began the habit of keeping a notebook with me a few years ago and it has changed my process a great deal. Originally this was a solution to keep track of fleeting ideas before sleep or get a quick visual down before my attention was taken by another task. As I filled up more pages I began to enjoy the practice of a quick idea pitch and trying to impart the concept or feeling clearly enough that others might be able to understand - sometimes I wouldn't even recognize ideas in the early going.
I keep my notebooks small (Moleskin Plain Journals, 64 pages, 3.5" x 5 .5") because of a few reasons, which have taught me some great details about design. If more space is needed for a sketch or idea I can always move up to my larger sketchbook, but then I'm really moving past thinking and into working the idea.
- They are more convenient and thus more likely to be used.
- The creative constraint of space forces me to communicate the idea more efficiently.
- The pages are the perfect size for a quick idea sketch that allows you to feel accomplished.
I think it is important for concepts to have time to develop and grow, rarely is any idea ready to go right away. Process, refinement, and evolution are all very important and these notebooks have given me the chance to kick things around a bit. I can put something down - it might be just a single brick - and come back later to build on to it.
After I finish each one, I apply some sort of design or favorite thumbnail to the cover along with the Month and Year range covered. I keep them because you never know when something from before might inspire something new and it's great to see progress.