Sitting down to write can be hard, and trying to find a topic worthy of writing about even more difficult. If you already know the ins and outs of your topic, great. But if you’re having trouble “fleshing” your ideas out and getting them on paper, consider pre-writing using the Stasis Theory.

The Stasis Theory comes from those famous Greek thinkers, Aristotle and co., and is designed to facilitate in-depth thinking about issues. Like the investigative journalist’s need-to-know questions Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, the Stasis Theory aims to get to the root of the matter, whether it’s a character’s motivation in your latest novel or a research paper on genomes. It’s based on four parts of the thinking and debating process:

Pre-Writing Using the Stasis Theory

1)      The Facts. In other words, what happened, and how did it occur? (For example, Has my peach pie indeed disappeared from the windowsill?)

2)      The Nature or Definition. Once you know what happened, you can begin to think about why it may have occurred. You can break it down into broader terms and think of it in relation to other, similar events. (Was the pie stolen on purpose or did it fall?)

3)      The Quality. Is the thing that happened bad? Good? Should it be avoided? Continued? Who or what is the situation? (Did a hobo out of the 1930s steal my peach pie, and did he possibly need it more than I did, in which case is it that bad?)

4)      Plan/Policy. What do we do now? How should we go about fixing the situation? How soon should we begin? (Should I only leave my pies to cool on the kitchen counter like the average person to avoid their theft in the future?)

While pre-writing using the Stasis Theory might not solve the world’s problems (as it was designed to do, albeit on a small, Athens-sized level), it may get your creative juices flowing and those ideas marching to the forefront of your keyboard or pen. Breaking any project down into stages makes the individual tasks seem easier and less insurmountable. The writing process is a perfect example of this sort of effective compartmentalization.

Originally posted 11/7/2011 and happily updated 10/26/2017. Thanks for reading!

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