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Classical Invention

May 27, 2021

In the ancient world, teachers of rhetoric wanted to give their students the power to create content for their speeches or compositions. This they did with an area of the art of composition they called “invention.” They were masters of invention.

They imagined that invention came from the exploration of abstract locations in the mind. For instance, if the assignment was to write a speech about procrastination, the ancient teacher might suggest looking in the area of definition.

How is procrastination defined? What words mean approximately the same thing as procrastination? What are some concrete examples of procrastination? When is procrastination misunderstood?

Students would then proceed into this area of investigation. Ideas that you as one of these students might never have considered pop into your head, and you begin coming up with some strong views on the subject. It is hard to study definitions of words without becoming at least a bit intrigued with argumentative ideas.

The ancients had other related areas or places to go to: comparisons, relationships, circumstances, testimonies.

What is procrastination similar to?

What causes procrastination?

What is the purpose of procrastination?

Why does procrastination happen?

What is the consequence of procrastination?

Is procrastination ever desirable?

What have I heard people say about procrastination?

Any important facts about procrastination?

Any famous sayings or poems about procrastination?

Are there any laws about procrastination?

By the time you as a young writer completed this invention process, you would know a lot more than you had at the beginning. You would also probably have developed some strong opinions about the word procrastination that could develop into one or more thesis statements. Perhaps you begin to see procrastination as a good thing in most cases. Whatever you decide, you’ve got something to work with.

Stop staring at blank pages! Invent your way to great writing.