A former hack who is now a barrister tells me that business is very quiet at the Law Library, and that some of the more experienced practitioners are encouraging the newer ones to make use of the down time. “If you are not earning, you should be learning” is the advice. “Sit in on interesting cases, do the research you have been putting off for ages.” Struck me that could apply to hacks too.
Go to your local district court and see what is going on. Sit in on council meetings, attend company agms. Yes, of course there will be people there covering whatever event it is, but you are there for something different, you are bringing yourself up to date, making new contacts. The court reporter will file the cases, you might get talking to the judge and do a profile. The council meeting might alert you to something big that is about to break. In a small way, I’ve tried this. There was no immediate payback, but there was a payback.
OK you have no interest in courts/ local politics/whatever. The principle is the same whatever your field. Holistic medicine, folk music, handball, whatever, all have events at which people gather, and where people gather you find leads for stories. Yes, it can be discouraging, but no work and doing nothing about it is even more discouraging. Your stock in trade is your craft and your contacts. Keep both up to date.