I blog about story inspiration both here and over at Book View Cafe. Feel free to comment either here or there!

I watch reality TV shows.

No, not things like “The Bachelor” or “Big Brother.”

Most of the reality TV shows I watch are skills based–the contestants must excell in their chosen field to be allowed on the show.

This is certainly the case in “Face Off” — a show about finding the next big name in makeup and creature concepts, as well as “So You Think You Can Dance” — the dancetestants are totally amazing. (The debate I have with myself is “Project Runway.” Yes, the contestants must have talent. But the producers have shifted focus away from the creative process to drama and product placement. It’s still mostly a talent show, but sometimes, IMO, not-as-talented people get selected because of the drama they can provide.)

Reality TV shows have taught me a few things about inspiration.

–Inspiration can come from anywhere. From rainwater in the gutter to yogurt to addiction. The creative impulse is astonishingly strong and flexible.

As you can tell from these posts, there are an amazing amount of things that inspire me to commit story. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to list everything that has or will inspire me. The problem is finding categories for these things, bunching them together. Because pretty much anything can suggest a story to me.

–Constraints can make someone more creative, not less. I remember one of the reasons why Tim Gunn was chosen as the mentor for Project Runway: When asked about making a wedding dress in one day, he was like, “Why not? If they only have on day, they only have one day, and they will just have to make it work.”

This is one of the reasons why I love writing stories for anthologies, and why I’m good at it. Give me some constraints, and let’s see what I can do. Write in a different genre. Write to a specific (shorter) length. Write far outside my comfort zone. All of these produce more creative work from me, not less.

–The amazing amount of work that can be done in a short amount of time by someone who’s motivated and passionate.

I still work at writing first draft rapidly, with that fire and passion. But there are other things that I’ve discovered I can do really quickly, for example, cleaning. I’ve learned that I can clean in half the time it generally takes me, if necessary (though I feel as though I’m moving at super-sonic speeds when I do.)

So what about you? Do you find yourself inspired by TV sometimes, reality or otherwise?