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Let's explore the obstacles that can derail our pursuit of developing positive creative habits in our lives. There's a subtle difference between inspiration and motivation. Inspiration has historically been an illusive conceptual state, one that creatives constantly pursue and often cite as the reason for their best creative efforts and most imaginative work. Its absence has also served as a convenient scapegoat for expected and unimaginative ideas. It's natural to believe that creativity feeds off of inspiration because it's true.
But I would argue that the more habitual cause behind our most unremarkable solutions isn't the lack of inspiration, but the absence of motivation. A key to overcoming either is understanding the difference. Inspiration is defined as the process of being mentally stimulated to do something, especially something creative. It's derived from a Middle English term translated as divine guidance. Motivation is defined as the general desire of someone to do something. It too comes from a Middle English term.
But its translation is, to move. The difference is that one is defined as an external force while the other is defined as an internal drive. Inspiration has us waiting impatiently for something to happen to us, which we can do little about unless it chooses to come over for a visit. Motivation however is in our control. It comes from within and propels us to act. Here's an exercise that might help you see the difference. You'll benefit from being in an area with a lot of office supplies or arts and crafts materials around. So, if you're in an area that seems sparse, you may want to move to an area with more objects around. Ready? This exercise is called, Bug's Ride, and it's going to take five minutes.
Bugs are a lot like people, especially as it pertains to their desire to experience the thrill of a carnival ride. So you're going to give it to em. Your task is to use whatever household junk, arts and crafts supplies, or any other needed building materials you can find in your immediate area to design a carnival ride for a bug. You can disassemble objects to use various parts, utilize your environment or even find items to use as propellents as necessary. Think of your self as mini Walt and you're making Bugsneyland.
You have five minutes to complete your ride, are you ready? Pause the movie now and go for it. Now, take a look at what you made. Imagine in your mind how your ride would work for that bug, what they would experience as they rode it. You were not inspired to create that, you were motivated to do so. I gave you a problem to solve and you made a conscious decision to solve it. You happened to it, it didn't happen to you. Here's what I made. I call it the Ski Slope of Death. I was inspired by the arts and crafts materials that I had, but I was really motivated by the time restriction.
Five minutes isn't much time to make something, so that five minutes really pushed me to create something more slide oriented. When we're evaluating our creative energy and output, do we confuse inspiration with motivation? While still infinitely valuable, inspiration can be found anywhere, on any website, in any magazine. Even on your desk if you're willing to look for it. Motivation to act on everyday inspiration, however, is the source of continuous fuel. It could be the accelerant we need to produce more quality ideas.
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