I haven’t quite done this, but I really like the idea of Process Journals, explained by journalist Sarah Enni over at her blog.
The way she describes these journals, these are sort of pre-writing writing. So this is where, as she says, you write about your writing. You set goals, you mull ideas over, put in tidbits of relevant research, try to work out plot points or other problems, and so on.
When I think of it, I’ve had my own versions of this sort of journal in the past. They just weren’t in journals. In fact, I look at the bookcase next to me, and it’s full of file folders where I keep all the random notes I’ve scribbled over the years, the ideas that did (or didn’t) make it into a story, charts of character relationships, and that sort of thing. Some of this stuff is written on the back of sheets from old phone message pads, on foolscap paper, on torn envelopes, and yes, once or twice, on the back of a napkin.
I have always called this mulling-over of things a matter of the “percolation” of ideas. Much of this percolation happens in your subconscious, so you can go to bed with a thorny problem in your head, and wake up with the solution just sitting there, all cooked. But the same sort of percolation can happen while you’re jotting down some quick notes: suddenly something is sitting on the page staring at you, waiting for you to notice it.
I like the idea of Process Journals. You can be spontaneous and get a lot of “percolation” done in there. But it’s all collected into one place, rather than on small pieces of paper that one good gust of wind could have a field day with.