I’ve recently pondered a bit the relation between inspiration and motivation. According to Dictionary.com inspiration is defined as:
1. an inspiring or animating action or influence: I cannot write poetry without inspiration.
2. something inspired, as an idea.
3. a result of inspired activity.
4. a thing or person that inspires.
a. a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.
b. the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.
6. the drawing of air into the lungs; inhalation.
7. the act of inspiring; quality or state of being inspired.
Motivation is defined as:
1. the act or an instance of motivating.
2. the state or condition of being motivated.
3. something that motivates; inducement; incentive.
Inspiration can be a form of motivation but my personal experience taught me that this is not always the case. While I often feel inspired by many things around me — music, books, photos, art — it does not necessarily motivate me to be creative. Admittedly I am as much a creative mind as a logical thinker. While my creative side gets inspired with relative ease my logical side needs to have a reason to turn this into a specific action (composing, writing, drawing). At times it is compulsory (based on my current mood) but even in those cases a certain motive is apparent (I do it because I feel good and it “fits” the mood).
I believe there are many creative people out there who aren’t always aware of their potential due to a lack of motive. It seems in our modern society the main motivation is money. We do it if it sells. This attitude is more dominant in consumer driven nations. As a European I am used to doing things simply because I enjoy them. However, living in the US for several years now I find that I’ve become more concerned with the question of profitability due to the general attitude. If it can’t be profitable it is not as desirable to pursue. That is a rather disturbing observation and perception. I am now actively focusing again on being creative so that I may express myself, be myself. I feel most satisfied looking at life as a perpetual cycle of Inspiration Motivation. What inspires me can and should motivate me to be creative driven by the desire to inspire others who are then motivated to be creative themselves, which in turn inspires me again. Hence, instead of primarily looking for inspiration to turn my creativity into a profitable business I am again open to any form of inspiration motivated by the desire to benefit others. This not only leads to a richer, deeper life experience but also enables me to pursue a much more fulfilling and encompassing creative career.