Note: I've posted about this before, but I never quite know whether it's right to make a post that's inspired by someone else's post, rather than write a long comment on the other person's post. Super-long comments among a bunch of shorter ones are embarrassing, so I've just aimed to make peace with my discomfort by mentioning the post that inspired my own.
In any case, back to the matter of a writer's notebook....
With my own writing that I write for myself, and from my own head/assimilated knowledge, I don't. Since I have no imagination I write nothing from imagination. I keep a "mental file" in my head for subjects that I want/plan to write about, and as long as a subject is in that "mental file" it will make itself known to me until I do write about it. Then what I do -= still only in my head - is pull out, maybe, three subjects from the "mental file" and let them be "in the main part of my head". lol From there they "get written", still in my head; so when it's time to write I "put my brain on print", and the thing is just done.
What I find with my own writing that's "for me" is that if I get involved with external stuff like outlines or notebooks it interrupts the process.
Of course, the price for this "system" I have is that my head often feels as if it's going to explode. That's why selecting about three subjects and setting the process in motion is important.
Sometimes, though, unexpected subjects just kind of come flying at me from the "outside world", and I make it a point to write about those immediately. I guess - now as I'm thinking about this - that there are some subjects that I generate from within, while there are subjects that are generated "from without"; and I treat both types differently.
Writing tools and apps for writers always seem like such a wise and practical idea. I've got a smartphone and a tablet full of both. Still, when all is said and done, writing is always about the writer's head and heart, aims and agenda; and - I don't know - sometimes maybe it's just kind of good to let one's writer's nature take its own course, and see where it all leads.
Photo: ME Whelan