They're everywhere: Finding great stories off the beaten path
By Lane DeGregory
1). Talk to strangers
Be a nosey neighbor. Sit by the old woman on the swing. Everyone has a story.
2). Play hookie
Roam aimlessly, let someone else drive, ride the bus, walk the docks, look around.
3). Read the walls
Check bulletin boards at libraries and Laundromats. Buy bad papers. Scour the classifieds
4). Sit the bench
Be a fly on the wall. Eavesdrop at beauty parlors. Eat lunch alone.
5). Make freaky friends
Opposites attract. Befriend photographers. Use your friends for ideas and contacts.
6). Get a life
Eat dirt at the drag strip. Join bowling leagues -- not junior leagues. Go to festivals.
7). Ignore important people
See who is in their shadows, who is holding their coattails. Write around celebrities.
8). Celebrate losers
Dreams don't always come true. Ask people about their failures and lessons learned.
9). Wonder: Who would ever?
Here's to you, Mr. golf ball picker-upper. Someone has to do it; why is it that?
10). Hang out at bars
Check out different dives. Try a martini. Always come back to Cheers/
Getting the goods
11). Give everyone your phone number
Keep in touch. Don't dis PR people; ask what else is going on.
12). Be late
Old news is good news. It's easier to talk after the arrest. Whatever happened to …
13). Work holidays
Relish rituals. Find faith. Be with others who can't celebrate.
14). Take stories no one else wants
Make people care. Write for other sections. Find a way it hasn't been done.
15). Look for the bruise on the apple
Ask uncomfortable questions. Celebrate conflict.
Cracking the nuts
16). Lie on the floor, climb on the cabinets
See stories from a new angle. Write from a different perspective. Seek other stakeholders.
17). Listen to the quiet
The sound of silence. What doesn't happen? Questions not answered.
18). Go along for the ride
Invite yourself over. Scan the bookshelves. Ask for photo albums. Vacuum the scene.
19). Play dumb
Repeat the important questions. Why don't I get this? Find the crux of the biscuit.
20). Don't be afraid of yourself
Share your life. Open up. Tell stories. Take risks. Wherever you go, there you are.
© Lane DeGregory