Two days ago, I picked up an assignment from a market that's brand-new to me. It's a research-heavy assignment; two related stories that require three experts and three "real people" sources each. The stories aren't due until the end of July, but I'm already working on lining up my sources and ideally want them interviewed by July 10 or so.
Experts are easy. Swing a dead cat...you know the rest. "Real people," however, are not. It takes time to find "real people," especially when they have to meet specific parameters like for these stories. (One story about newlyweds and sex took me three weeks to find the three "real" people who would agree to speak with me. Lesson: No more writing about newlywed sex again!) And I never want to be in a position where I'm closing in on a deadline yet don't have all of my sources interviewed. It makes me cranky and anxious.
So I always get my research and interviews done way ahead of time. You should too.
Your assignment: When you accept an assignment, immediately start identifying and lining up your sources for the story.
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