The dream log , Know thy self and know understanding.
Keep a dream log. I will say it again, KEEP A DREAM LOG! This is the most important step to success in lucid dreaming. Keep a small notebook or pad near your bed, and write in it immediately after waking when the dream is still fresh in memory. An audio recording device works for many people. I have on occasion used my phone to record a dream log entry and later when transcribing it I recalled even more details. I have tried to use my phone, laptop, and online dream journals but find myself drawn too far into conscious by electronic devices. I have had success with voice notes that I will later transcribe or send to myself as a voicemail through a service that tries to transcribe them and all I have to do is make minor corrections at a later date. There is several programs that provide voice to text for free and voicemail services but often the act of listening to it brings back left out details and allows me to transcribe myself and add to the log entry.
I eventually transcribe all of my written entries and set aside time each month to do this. This allows me to color code triggers and common themes or items while giving the liberty of adding lined and editing quickly in such a way that is hard on paper. Almost all of my entries start on paper and over the years I have boxes of full dated journals and logs from the last 20 years. The sketches also seem to be easier on paper and almost impossible on the other formats without coming to full wakefulness. These journals have all been transcribed or scanned onto my computers for ease of access and editing. I have used word counts to find patterns and I am currently experimenting with a program to do all of this for me (I may have to write it).
By keeping a detailed list of dreams and going back through it there is patterns to be discovered. I often suggest to leave several lines or a space after each entry for later additions due to recall and to highlight common items, places,people etc and make notes.
Perhaps it is the odd side of me but before bed I will write the date, time, supplements if any and any unusual deviations such as diet or pre bed activity. This has led to the discoveries such as what supplements vitamins, food, and activities help me. Upon waking and writing I write the entry and then the time because the clock often distracts me for an instant and leads to loss of the dream memory details.
When keeping a constant journal or log you are establishing the habit as well as telling your brain the importance and intention of recording a dream and small details..With the habit well established your subconscious will start paying better attention to detail and and abnormalities in the dreams that you may not have noticed before..
As most people rush around with a modern busy life you normally awake and then think of what you must do with your day rather than take a few moments to focus on dream recall. This becomes a well established habit after years of repetition and the brain is trained to disregard dreams and focus on other matters from an early age when getting ready for school. Most people set their schedule by starting the day with a very small gap between waking and a scheduled activity such as work, commuting or other such activity. Going to bed early and waking early has been a habit for me for many years and having an hour or so of relaxation and time for planning has always seem to help quite a bit versus being ready for a job and in the car in less than an hour after waking. I have often considered the auto accidents and other slight mistakes in judgement that could be avoided if the majority of our society would leave time in their daily itinerary to be fully awake when leaving the house. This also would leave time for a dream log and several dreaming experiments.
Start by writing the date in the book before falling asleep to give a mental clue that you must write when you awaken. When you first awaken try to lay still and not move a muscle while you try to remember what you can. Faces, Names, places, events, items, emotions or any other notable content. Often a small memory can trigger a cascade and flood of memories before they fade away. Then write it all down.