Ancient writing was exclusive. Egyptian and Chinese picture writing followed this model. Writing on marsh reeds, stone, turtle shells, or bamboo was a laborious process that required much preparation before the writer’s thoughts could be preserved.

Recording the writer’s thoughts verbatim was out of the question. They didn't have the labor or resources to waste.

Writing, therefore, had to be skillfully pared down to the essentials. Gestalt served this purpose. It allowed the gist of the writer’s concept to be efficiently stored.

Thus gestalt writing, recording the gist of the concept, was restricted to a few due to the time and effort required to teach what was to be left unwritten but implied. In Egyptian writing, only consonants were inscribed. The vowels were hidden in "negative" space away from the excluded.