06 February 2013

Our Own Natural Gifts

There is no quality of style that can be gained by reading writers who possess it; whether it be persuasiveness, imagination, the gift of drawing comparisons, boldness, bitterness, brevity, grace, ease of expression or wit, unexpected contrasts, a laconic or naive manner, and the like.

But if these qualities are already in us, exist, that is to say, potentially, we can call them forth and bring them to consciousness; we can learn the purposes to which they can be put; we can be strengthened in our inclination to use them, or get courage to do so; we can judge by examples the effect of applying them, and so acquire the correct use of them; and of course it is only when we have arrived at that point that we actually possess these qualities.

The only way in which reading can form style is by teaching us the use to which we can put our own natural gifts.

— Arthur Schopenhauer, "Reading and Books," Essays of Schopenhauer

Painting: Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, (1796 - 1875) Interrupted Reading

See also: Your Natural Voice as a Writer

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