I find that the motivation to write and the inspiration that causes the urge to write are one and the same, for the most part.
Because all motivation and all inspiration boil down to how you’re connecting something to the way you think.
“I’m motivated to write stories that center on the family, because my childhood is what I’m inspired by.”
Walk down nature avenue a second: smell the odor of wildflowers, hear the rush of the river, see the sunlight gleam between intertwined branches, and taste the sun sweet berries of the earth.
No doubt nature inspires art, but it’s the lines we draw from those experiences to ourselves that motivates us to write about it. We connect it to something we think about, or something that’s happened previously to us.
I’ll use myself and thought process as example. In the most peaceful moments, in the most beautiful of places I become inspired by the thought, ‘who has seen this before me and what did they think, feel?’ This is because my biggest motivation for writing is to be able to put a magnify glass over human character. I write to discover things about humanity, and how we change but rarely completely.
I tend to believe all true artists hold on to some past experience to provoke their art (John Gardner actually touches on this in On Becoming a Novelist.) So, in the same way when we are inspired by something it’s because we can look back at what has happened and feel like there’s a new way to tell a story waiting inside of us.
Here’s where it gets a little interesting:
Inspiration is selfish, motivation is half selfish, but the end product, the art, is selfless.
When we’re inspired it’s because something happens inside of us.
When we’re motivated it’s because something has inspired us and because we want to show others that inspiration.
And (true) art, even done selfishly, is everyone elses to consume.
What do I mean by true art? Well, that’s a much bigger topic. Think A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens when thinking of true art, and Twilight compared to it.
(Also, Pocahontas reference was intended!)