How writing has changed through the ages

Writing in the modern era is very different to writing even fifty years ago. Technology, lifestyle, attitudes, and education have all played an important role.

Writing today ought to be easier, better and faster. But is this really so?



Not so very long ago if you wanted to research something you…

a) Asked someone older and wiser (and trusted that they were not making the answer up)

b) Went to the library (assuming it was opening time)

c) Dragged out your Encyclopaedia Britannica (if you were lucky enough to have the set—or half the set…)

Research is infinitely easier in the modern world, all courtesy of the internet. For example, the other day I needed to find out how best and practically to carry an unconscious body on a horse—voila! Thus, providing a demonstration of why a writer’s internet history should never be used in a court of law.

Writing tools…

vintage typewriter

As a scrivener fan, I like to think I have embraced the benefits of modern day writing tools. Not so very long ago you were lucky if you had Microsoft Word. Not much help in structure or planning, but at least it can fix some of the typos and grammar, and for many writers it still holds pride of place. Prior to the introduction of computers, you probably used a typewriter! And before that pencil or quill and paper! And before that a hammer and chisel!



The modern world contains a vast and ever emerging array of distractions. To compensate we deploy a vast and ever emerging array of distraction mitigating techniques! Sometimes our techniques work, and sometimes they don’t…I am pretty sure me writing this blog post is a distraction…and so is you reading it!



Education is not such a clear cut conclusion for me. In some ways, the modern world with all its spell checkers and text talk jargon has depleted our basic writing skills. But, there is also an amazing array of blogs (except this one, which is in the above ‘distraction’ classification), free education, books, and other material available via the internet, and to a far wider portion of the population.

The time to write…

time to write

If you were a 15th century crofter, the chances are you probably couldn’t read and were far too busy tending to your turnips to dedicate time to writing. Even a hundred years ago the average person worked a 7 day week with little energy or enthusiasm for embracing their creative side. But, for many people in the modern world we have plenty of opportunity to write, although many of us who are not full time writers would definitely still like a lot more 🙂


writing caveman

Whatever the time or place, there have always been storytellers. They just did not necessarily write. I think the concept of the story and the storyteller has been part of human culture for as far back as we have considered ourselves to be human.

Our attitude to writing has changed over the ages though, and I believe we are far more prolific writers now than we have ever been, and that makes me wonder where we will go to next. Perhaps we will simply project our thoughts onto pages, or perhaps writing as we know it now will ultimately disappear.


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22 thoughts on “How writing has changed through the ages

  1. Your article carried us through many ages…love your final cartoon! Ah…sadness…first, I had to get used to the idea that handheld books could disappear…NOW you are suggesting even our typing hands will be of no use! Reminds me of the song “In the Year 2525…”I think that was the title! Though I do not cherish your concluding thought, you have expressed yourself well in this piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How things have changed! I typed my PhD thesis on a Selectric, with carbon copies, and oh, the typos! I have a friend who likes to type his stories on a circa 1940s Royal. Libraries are now just banks of computers, on which you can read whatever you need for your research. What next?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember having to put a piece of carbon paper in between pages when typing reports. I had a special eraser for mistakes.. Then I’d have to line up the key in the right place. If I forgot to type an entire word at the end of the page, I’d have to retype the entire page. When liquid paper first came out, I thought I was in heaven and became quite an artist with it. When you’re dyslexic, you have to be resourceful. 🙂

        Having a computer with spell check (and those little wavy lines underneath words) was like finding the “Gates” to heaven after slogging through a swamp for years.


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