Invention & Revision

  • Jump-start and refine writing projects by employing powerful invention and revision strategies.
  • Realize your creative potential by better understanding the role of mindset during invention and revision.
  • Prioritize revision strategies to safe time yet produce more professional documents.

Sub-Sections in Invention-and-revision:

  1. Revision

Invention & Revision are two distinct intellectual processes:

  1. Invention refers to the act of generating content (e.g., words on a page, musical symbols, mathematical equations, pictures and animations.) Invention is informed by intellectual openness, believing, resilience, and optimism.
  2. Revision refers to the act of re-envisioning content. For instance, when thinking about a project a writer could identify flaws in reasoning and evidence, problems with sources or research methods, flaws in organization and style. Revision is fueled by critique, doubt, reconfiguration, redesign.

Invention & Revision, are interrelated , dynamic processes. Rhetors engage in acts of Invention and revision occur simultawenously in dialogu with one another.


Every act of creation is first an act of destruction

Pablo Picasso

At Writing Commons, we assume there is some value in co

Invention & Revision are contrary intellectual properties: nvention & Revision are deeply interwoven

Inexperienced writers to not mix revision with invention. Put simply, if you constantly critique every word out of your consciousness, you could wear yourself down. Being overly critical is counterproductive. As a result, Peter Elbow, a renown writing teacher, has written eloquently about the value of setting aside critique when composing. Famously, Professor Elbow calls this technique freewriting. (For more on this, see The Believing Game and The Doubting Game. )

Here at Writing Commons, we do not dispute this conventional advice. Part of self-regulation and metacognition is knowing what your goals are. And, if your goal is invention, it makes sense that you set aside your inner critic and just flow. Just draft. Peter Elbow, Donald Murray, and other Compositionists are very wise to coach commitment to where you are in the process. However, invention is also invariably an act of revision–particularly after a writer has started composing. Invention and Revision are two sides of the same coin. Daytime defines night time. These contrary processes are thoroughly integrated in the act of thinking. Thinking is organic, fluid. In nanoseconds, you can have a thought and then revise it.

Invention & Revision @ Writing Commons

  1. Invention
    1. Drafting
      1. Dictating
      2. Exemplification
      3. Freewrite
    2. Heuristics (Prewriting Exercises)
      1. Burke’s Pentad
      2. Document Planner
      3. Journalistic Questions
      4. Journal About the Assignment
      5. The Common Topoi and Tagmemic Questions
    3. Visualization
      1. Clustering/spider maps
      2. Timeline/flowchart maps
      3. Hierarchical maps
      4. Modeling/theory maps 
    4. Preliminary Research
  2. Revision