Raise your hand if you could conquer the following words without the help of a spellcheck: logorrhea, pharaoh, gobbledygook. Yeah, me neither. Well, maybe I’d get gobbledygook.
Now raise your hand again if you have any idea what logorrhea even means.
But guess what? We don’t have to know. Instant look-up defines it for us. The same way instant spellcheck smooths out our misspellings and instant grammar checks take away all those comma splices that used to bring on ugly red slashes all over our term papers.
Writers in the 21st century are a lucky bunch. Not only do we have technology that fixes our comma splices and misspellings, but we never again have an accidental spill of Wite-Out all over our desk. And it’s so much easier to take along a 2-pound laptop than a 30-pound typewriter to pen some poems in the park.
Although technology has decidedly reduced some of our muscle mass from the lack of lugging typewriters, it has not necessarily made us dumb. The tools we use can save time and serve to enhance our writing – as long as we use them correctly.
That means applying them to what we already learned and know rather than relying on them as if we couldn’t function without them. We can still write in a journal (or typewriter) without a computer. Learn to avoid comma splices with repetition and review.
And yes, if we really had to, we could memorize the spelling and definition of logorrhea after looking it up in a good old-fashioned dictionary. For the record, it means extremely talkative.
The craft of writing is ingrained in our brains, the art of writing in our souls. If technology were to disappear tomorrow, true writers would still be able to write.
This is not to say that we’re not taken aback for a moment when the internet goes down during research. We do have a second of sitting there, slack-jawed, like a drooling zombie. Yet we quickly remember we can turn our smartphones into a hotspot. Then it’s back in action.
But not everyone is that quick on their feet, or able to think for themselves. This was evidenced during a power outage one afternoon. I had been walking my dogs and ran into a neighbor I never saw before.
She explained how she was usually at work during the day but couldn’t go because of the power outage. After all, she had an electric garage door opener and now had no way to open the garage to get her car out.
She wasn’t kidding.
It didn’t even occur to her to disconnect the garage door from the opener so she could manually open the garage. I’m guessing she wasn’t a writer. Whether we’d done it before or remember once writing about the pros and cons of electric garage door openers, we would have figured that one out.
The same way we could figure out how to clean the floor without a robot vacuum or open a can without an electric can opener (or our teeth).
Yes, I’d say we writers are a lucky batch indeed. Endless research gives us all kinds of knowledge. Ongoing creativity gives us all kinds of solutions. And whether it’s with high-end technology or with a ballpoint pen, we’ll always have what we need to write.