Perspiration and inspiration

Andrew Robinson

in Genius

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199594405
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191778056 | DOI:

Series: Very Short Introductions

Perspiration and inspiration

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  • Psychology
  • Social Psychology


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‘Perspiration and inspiration’ shows that gradual preparation with sudden illumination, dogged work with a eureka experience, are defining features of genius. Various psychological studies are considered, with examples of work from Mozart, Einstein, Van Gogh and Edison, but the only widely respected ‘law’ of creativity is the ‘ten-year rule’. First identified by John Hayes in 1989 and soon endorsed by several other psychologists, such as Howard Gardner, it states that a person must persevere with learning and practising a craft or discipline for about ten years before he or she can make a breakthrough. Remarkably few breakthroughs have been achieved in less than this time.

Keywords: creativity; Charles Darwin; Sigmund Freud; inspiration; Leonardo da Vinci; Isaac Newton; Henri Poincaré; Thomas Young

Chapter.  3432 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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