The nature of work for a freelance writer is immensely different from what it once was due to the internet. With a quick Google search you can find everything you want to know about just about anything.
Compare this to “the old days” where if you wanted information you had to either call an expert on the phone, or go to the library. Both of these involved a lot more physical initiative than what we do today. Information used to be a precious commodity but now there is so much of it out there we hardly know what to do with it all.
It’s easy to think that by sitting on the computer all day story ideas will simply fall into your lap. This assumption is, however, false. Nothing interesting ever happens if you stay at home. Real stories come from living. Writers are typically introverts, so for many of us it is tempting to stay in our shells. But life doesn’t begin until you leave your comfort zone, and if you really want to write about the world, you need to see whats its all about. You need to get away from your computer and get outside!
Some of my best story ideas came from just observing things around town. Seldom have I ever gotten great ideas from a news release or from catching an article on the internet. There have been times when it worked, but mostly ideas come from exploring the world, talking to people, and noticing things wherever you go.
Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong era. I pine for the time when journalism meant you had to run around town chasing a story, a time when the media industry wasn’t disintegrating like it is now. But there is no such thing as a time machine, and wanting for the past is a waste. The internet has changed the way we find information, but it will never change the way we get stories. There is no replacement for living life.