Many visual artists start their major works by making sketches or making low res photos before hand. These sketches are sometime made days, months, or years before the work on the larger pictures or canvasses begins.
So too with my writing style. Most days I write an off-the-cuff synopsis of what I was thinking during the day. I leave these daily pages jell over night or for a few days before re-reading them.
When I review those pages, I edit them with a yellow highlighter. I pick those words, sentences, or passages that jump out and speak to me. These are the truly important concepts or ideas.
In this way the important ideas in-bedded in my subconscious become obvious. It is these pieces that are important. They can result in the continuation of a current plot, a short story, or the beginning of a novel.
Writers have many ways they keep these `sketches` for reference. Some use scraps of paper, 3X5 cards, notebooks, or in my case my daily notes to myself.
Not all the information gleaned from my thinking is usable right away. I have found ideas years later which are just right for my next written work.
Writing doesn't mean sitting hour after hour writing, editing, or polishing the same part of a story. The actual story writing only consumes a few hours of my day. That is enough to meet my goal of five hundred words a day of production.
The balance of my day consists of making the little sketches to be used later on in the current story or a new one.