The recipe for becoming a good novelist, for example is easy to give but to carry it out presupposes qualities one is accustomed to overlook when one says ‘I do not have enough talent’.
One has only to make a hundred or so sketches for novels, none longer than two pages but of such distinctness that every word in them is necessary.
One should write down anecdotes each day until one has learned how to give them the most pregnant and effective form.
One should be tireless in collecting and describing human types and characters.
One should above all relate things to others and listen to others relate, keeping one’s eyes and ears open for the effect produced on those present, one should travel like a landscape painter or costume designer.
One should excerpt for oneself out of the individual sciences everything that will produce an artistic effect when it is well described.
One should, finally, reflect on the motives of human actions, disdain no signpost to instruction about them and be a collector of these things by day and night.
One should continue in this many-sided exercise some ten years: what is then created in the workshop, however, will be fit to go out into the world.
What, however, do most people do?
They begin, not with the parts, but with the whole. Perhaps they chance to strike a right note, excite attention and from then on strike worse and worse notes, for good, natural reasons.