I’ve been thinking about how writers have it made these days—even with all our struggles—we really have it so easy it’s not funny. You’ve all heard the phrase, “So easy a caveman could do it.” Well, caveman didn’t have it so simple when it came to writing. He had to have intelligence.
Think about early writers, those that came before us—thousands of years before us—the caveman. There was a time that men chiseled their writings into stone tablets and on stone walls. They had to know before hand what they wanted to say—exactly—because they had zero room for error. This was most likely after they had created the stone tablet too. A lot of work and thought went into the writing process. It had to have meaning and the power to move people.
Eventually it came to feathers, inks and parchments. These guys had it better than the Stone Age writers, but they still had little room for error. They could allow the ink to dry and “scratch” off a misplaced letter or two, but this is probably not something they wanted to do very often. Again, these guys had to know what message they were sending and it needed to be powerful.
Early typewriters probably seemed like a godsend to writers. Here they had the luxury to peck on some keys and get the message across. But they still had to seriously think about their message. Could you imagine getting to the bottom of the page and making a mistake? That would mean you had to type the whole page over from the beginning. Probably not something those guys wanted to do very often. They also had to spend much time in thought about what they wanted to say.
Eventually they had typewriters with corrective tape. It was like an invitation for, “Let the mistakes begin!” These guys didn’t have to think through what they wanted to say because they could correct it immediately.
Fast forward to today. Do we have it made or what? Maybe, maybe not. We have the ability to cut whole paragraphs and pages from our work with the tap of a key. We don’t have to “think” through our writing to the degree these early writers did because we can delete it and start all over. Even with all of this “power” our work is riddled with misspellings and typos. We also read daily doses of pure rubbish. I’m guilty of writing more than my share of it, because it’s so easy.
We do have it made as writers, but we can still take lessons from those before us—especially from the guys who chiseled it in stone. We should spend more time with the thinking process and be sure of the message we want to send before we start writing.
“So easy a caveman could do it?” I think not. As simple minded as we think these guys were, they had to use their thought process in a precise manner. They didn’t have the luxury of making mistakes.
The moral of this story: Be clear about the message you want to send before you sit down to the keyboard. Just because we have it easier than early writers, doesn’t mean our message shouldn’t be well thought out.