Start a Tickler File of story ideas.
A tickler file is a place where journalists shove all the stuff that comes their way that might make for a future story but that they don’t have time to work on now.
In the old days you did this in a manila file folder. And don’t knock manila file folders. When the Internet is down, you can still pull open the old-fashioned folder. Most people, though, store documents and news stories and links and thoughts and phone numbers and such on their computers or phones or iPads or Google Docs. Any of those will work.
The important thing is to get yourself in the habit of saving anything you think might be the start of an investigation or that might help you later in an investigation. Don’t think you will remember stuff. Consider your memory your enemy. It will lose important things and make costly mistakes. It will inevitably fail you.
What to save in a tickler file?
- Stories you might want to replicate
- Citations of sources who might be useful down the road
- Contact information of sources
- Documents you don’t have time to read now.
- Documents you don’t have the resources to understand right now.
- Anything else that can spark kernels of ideas: Flyers, brochures, ads, event listings, news briefs, obits.