Effortless genius?

Po 02 října 2023

(my comments on “Is Hermione actually that smart?” by /u/sullivanbri966)


I heard someone once claim that she is ‘a genius through effort, not an effortless genius.’

I don’t think there is such thing as an effortless genius. Thomas Alva Edison (who could be easily qualified as a genius himself) said somewhere (the source is difficult to find): “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

There is also his statement, that “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”, which is quite unpleasant when you think about it.


Your argument could just as easily say we all made an effort to start breathing after we left the womb so nothing we do is effortless. I'd say genius is more sporadic rather than being a culmination of life experience to the point where one becomes “a genius”.

I am not saying there are no geniuses in the world who come with unexpected and awesome and change the whole world’s understanding of the point (I had a great honour to have of those in my life even), but what I am saying is that behind that a short moment of brilliance there is usually A LOT of work, and that without that work that brilliance would not show up.

I like what both Robert Heinlein (also this summary) and Ray Bradbury (essay, not the collection) are unanimous in their writing advice (using Bradbury’s words; both of these are certainly geniuses in their world): write five thousand words every day ready to be published, and after ten or so years doing so (and being published), you may actually write a story or two, which are what you want to write.

I have here a letter from my grandfather Jiří Trnka who bitterly complained that his very good friend Jan Werich (a very famous Czech actor) is too lazy and too comfortable in his success, so he will not probably do anything good in his later years. Which was actually true: Werich made the last great things in the 1950s’ and then he just drifted without doing much for the next thirty years.

Category: literature Tagged: review harryPotter blogComment