Motivation vs. Inspiration: Is There A Difference?


The other day I woke thrilled by the prospect of writing. I couldn’t wait to get to my computer and pound out the words. But, when I got there, I had trouble writing. I wanted to write so badly, but I only was able to get 300+ words in an hour. Usually I can pound out anywhere from 700 to 1,200+ words in an hour. I was motivated to write, but I wasn’t inspired. It felt weird to be in a strange sort of limbo like that.

So, I decided to see if I could figure out the different (if there is any) between motivation and inspiration.

Merriam-Webster defines motivation as:

1. a. The act or process of being motivated.

    b. The condition of being motivated.

2. A motivating force, stimulus, or influence

Makes sense, right? You want to get out there and do something. You’re motivated; ready to go. But, it doesn’t say anything about  what’s causing the motivation, or how well you may perform the activity. In my case, writing.

Merriam-Webster defines inspiration as:

1. a. a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation

    b. the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions

    c. the act of influencing or suggesting opinions

2. the act of drawing in; specifically : the drawing of air into the lungs

3. a. the quality or state of being inspired

     b. something that is inspired <a scheme that was pure inspiration>

4.  an inspiring agent or influence

This definition implies that there is a force causing inspiration. Is motivation that force? Is it another outside force?

Here’s what I infer from the situation:

Inspiration can fuel motivation, but motivation isn’t always fueled by anything. Make sense?

What do you think? Have you ever been motivated, but not inspired?

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2 thoughts on “Motivation vs. Inspiration: Is There A Difference?

  1. In my opinion, motivation is the drive or desire to do something. Inspiration is what you do. For instance, you might have a brilliant new idea for the Oliver Project, new character or situation etc.. That is the inspiration. Which often times leads to the motivation of writing. It sounds like to me that you were. All set to write, but there was a lack of inspiration. So while you we’re primed to write, there was not anything really bursting to get out. That is my little assessment. I may be way off. I find though, that if the inspiration is there usually so is the motivation.

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