ERIC Number: ED198537
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1980
Reference Count: N/A
Inventio or Discovery: Some Reflections on Prewriting. National Writing Project Occasional Paper No. 1.
Johnson, Sabina Thorne
Prewriting involves the entire period of time (and necessary activities) which extends between knowing that one is going to write on something and knowing that one has found something specific and substantial to say about it. In classical rhetoric, prewriting is expressed by such terms as "inventio" (whereby the writer discovers ideas to write about) and "topoi" (the general probes or a series of questions one might ask about a subject in order to discover things to say about that subject). An intellectual approach to prewriting depends upon a formal set of questions, the equivalent of classical topoi. The intuitional approach, on the other hand, seeks to generate ideas by forcing the writer to dredge up from the subconscious the impression of the material that is stored there. There is some confusion of whether prewriting processes should be linear or alinear, sequential of simultaneous, methodically imposed or organically generated. Proponents of the intellectual approach would make the first choice in each instance. However, there is no real order for creativity--it just happens. Teachers of writing can and should come to understand a great deal about composing through careful observation, introspection, contemplation, and reflection. For what teachers of writing need, but have not had, is a reservoir of wisdom and sophistication about writing upon which to draw. (HOD)
Descriptors: College English, Creativity, Discovery Processes, Higher Education, Prewriting, Rhetoric, Teaching Methods, Writing (Composition), Writing Instruction, Writing Processes
Publications Department, Bay Area Writing Project, 5635 Tolman Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 ($2.00 postage and handling).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Endowment for the Humanities (NFAH), Washington, DC.; Carnegie Corp. of New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: California Univ., Berkeley. School of Education.