Heuristics

The term heuristic is derived from the Greek word heuresis, which means to discover or invent.

Heuristics in contemporary discourse are exercises writers, speakers, knowledge workers . . . use to stimulate thinking about a subject, topic. Heuristics do not predispose a particular outcome but are instead meant to serve as points of departure. There is no right and wrong way to conduct a heuristic.

Writers, Speakers, Knowledge Workers . . . use heuristics such as freewriting to engage in divergent thinking. They use rhetorical heuristics such as a document planners to help bring focus to commonplaces shared by writers and readers, senders and receivers.

Synonyms: Prewriting Strategies.


Heuristics are exercises that are designed to stimulate creative thinking about a topic and to refine their thinking about the rhetorical situation. Heuristics are sort of like an athlete’s warm up exercises. For instance,

  • a writer could write a reflective note about the rhetorical situation or maybe as work plan for drafting and collaborating.
  • While reading, the writer could draft a book mark about the status of scholarly conversation about the topic. The writer could conduct even a bit of metacognitive work about whether the project is really worth doing.