If on your journey through life you're struck by a beautiful or provocative scene and there's not enough time for notes, take a picture. Painters are notorious for keeping cameras close by, so they may capture inspiring images to transfer to canvas later. Since you're a painter in words, do the same.
On research expeditions, photos are essential. Shoot indoor or outdoor settings and people—faces in particular—to help with environment and character sketches.
A small backpack can serve as your portable desk, like a kit a scientist might take into the field. Include a camera, the book or books you're currently reading, your notebook, several pens, glasses (if necessary), and a pocket dictionary.
Place your research photographs on the walls around your desk. You may be surprised to see your imagination extract from a single shot a narrative fragment or a full-blown story.