Old papers, notes and notebooks are the pirate's booty of writers. We hoard them and go in search of more. Often, we do not make time to survey or catalog our take. If we did so with a keen eye, our records could provide a wealth of ideas and potential resources.
I'm in the process of sifting through my books and filing cabinet. As I've moved to a new residence, I've discovered that I don't have quites as much storage space. During my picking and purging, I discovered a note from a friend advising me on how to proceed in writing my then newly conceived novel. After re-reading the note, I drafted a tighter, revised summary of said novel. The new version is more historically apt, more poignant and the product of three years of maturity. I know that it will be a great novel, but it may have taken me alot longer to discern the right way for me to tell the story I'd conceived and set aside if I hadn't come across that note now tucked into my notebook.