Friedrich Nietzsche, Human All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), subtitled A Book for Free Spirits (Ein Buch für freie Geister).

First published in 1878.   A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche), was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten), followed in 1880.

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THE EARNESTNESS OF HANDICRAFT.  Do not talk of gifts, of inborn talents!  We could mention great men of all kinds who were but little gifted.  But they obtained greatness, became "geniuses" (as they are called), through qualities of the lack of which nobody who is conscious of them likes to speak.  They all had that thorough earnestness for work which learns first how to form the different parts perfectly before it ventures to make a great whole; they gave themselves time for this, because they took more pleasure in doing small, accessory things well than in the effect of a dazzling whole.  For instance, the recipe for becoming a good novelist is easily given, but the carrying out of the recipe presupposes qualities which we are in the habit of overlooking when we say, "I have not sufficient talent".  Make a hundred or more sketches of novel plots, none more than two pages long, but of such clearness that every word in them is necessary; write down anecdotes every day until you learn to find the most pregnant, most effective form; never weary of collecting and delineating human types and characters; above all, narrate things as often as possible and listen to narrations with a sharp eye and ear for the effect upon other people present; travel like a landscape painter and a designer of costumes; take from different sciences everything that is artistically effective, if it be well represented; finally, meditate on the motives for human actions, scorn not even the smallest point of instruction on this subject, and collect similar matters by day and night.  Spend some ten years in these various exercises: then the creations of your study may be allowed to see the light of day.  But what do most people do, on the contrary?  They do not begin with the part, but with the whole.  Perhaps they make one good stroke, excite attention, and ever afterwards their work grows worse and worse, for good, natural reasons.  But sometimes, when intellect and character are lacking for the formation of such an artistic career, fate and necessity take the place of these qualities and lead the future master step by step through all the phases of his craft.  
 

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