I’ve recently re-adopted something I learned in a high school creative writing class. I’ve been keeping a Field Notes notebook in my back pocket and capturing stray interesting thoughts that pop into my head and things I overhear from others (conversations, movies, reading, etc.) There’s no specific reason or purpose for these random snippets, for now. Just listening, observing, waiting, and writing down anything that catches my attention. Our writing instructor at the time told us that, mostly, these things will remain meaningless and go unused but, perhaps, one thing in there might be exactly the line you need to turn a good poem into a great one or the first line of conversation for a character in a book or even the first sentence of the next Great American Novel. She said one may not even make that connection for many years but, if it only happens once, the whole of all the capturing will be worth it for that single line.
The other lesson is that it causes one to be more attentive to the world. The senses become naturally heightened and one is much more mindful when anything is potentially worth the ink in one’s pen.