I am convinced of the usefulness of regular note-taking. I got influenced by my readings on ethnography and ethnographic research. Most ethnographers write research memos in addition to their field notes. This writing of research memos helps to shape ideas, interpret data, and develop arguments for their articles. Most often, one just has to take the parts from their research memo and organize it to make the first draft of the writing.
Recently, I read 'How to take smart notes’ by Sonke Ahrens. It is a good book and is written for academicians. Ahrens is himself an academic. The book is based on Zettelkasten method/ Use of slipbox for organizing notes. Slipbox is behind the productivity of the great sociologist Niklas Luhmann.
The good thing about using the slipbox, which Ahrens also mentions, is that you won’t even feel that you are working on a big project. Hence you do not face the associated writing blocks and emotional traumas. You simply attain productivity without trying for it. Your notes are not just a reminder of a thought you once had, they become the thoughts itself. Therefore, you write it elaborately such that they can be considered as ideas worth consideration. They will tell you what your thoughts were and how they are connected to other thoughts.
However, you need to invest in your personal resources regularly into a note taking system. Consistently write whatever you think or consider in relation to what you read or observe. Observing would be a good source of writing for journalists and fiction writers. For fiction writers, the characters you want to emulate are most often caught from real-life interactions/observations.
In slipbox method, note-taking enables us to structure and condense information and guides future writing. Writing helps us think better. I always write and make notes on paper while thinking. Regular note-taking, thus, helps you to think about the ideas that you come across.
The slipbox method works the same as ethnography - both organize and refer to your notes. Instead of the field observation as data in ethnography, you work with literature in slipbox. Whenever you read anything, you make notes on how you agree, differ, or integrate the ideas in that which you read about. You will keep collecting the references and notes based on them. After a while, the writing on a topic or project will attain a critical mass and can be turned into an article by collecting and organizing the ideas or texts.
The initial thoughts on such a system would be that it will become messy as you make more notes. However, it is the opposite. The value of the slipbox grows as the notes grow in number and the interconnectedness build between the notes.