Should you mention ChatGPT in a room full of writers, you’d be hard-pressed to not see at least one of them bristle. For many of us, the mainstream-ification of AI is horrifying. That’s deeply valid, considering how close it is to generating human writing already. The concept of automation of human thought and expression feels rather dystopian, for good reason, it does have the potential to be dystopian if not addressed properly.
But, we as writers need to move past the fear of this new tool. When we establish etiquette around using the tool ethically instead of avoiding it like the plague, we can use it to our advantage. Instead of focusing our energy towards concern about it flooding the world with bloat articles, we can set ourselves up for communal success. The writer’s life-lemon that is AI text generation can be turned into lemonade — human-made lemonade, even.
I know it’s scary, it’s existential-dread-inducing, and our world is changing at unprecedented rates. The changes that we’re seeing now will likely radically alter our economy and the way we live. That’s a lot to process for all of us and the resulting growing pains are perfectly reasonable to be apprehensive of. But we must remember that this isn’t the first technological revolution that humanity has been through, and it most certainly won’t be the last. Embrace the change and adapt along with it. Learn how you can adapt to these strange and uncertain times, without falling into the trap of making AI software your ghostwriter.
Critical Analysis of Your Written Word
After writing content in your own words, you can paste it into the chat box of your favorite AI tool and ask for a review. ChatGPT and other software will let you know the positives and negatives of what you’ve written, giving some amazing insights for improvements. Instead of creating content derived from all of ChatGPT’s data, you’ve managed to create something original, which you can then quickly cross-check with that data to see whether your work does manage to provide something original, eloquent, and/or concise.
I’ve been experimenting with this with some of my writing, recently. When I’ve completed and grammar-checked, I’ll paste in about 1000 words or so at a time and ask “Is this good?”. Results vary from article to article, of course, but the insights have been generally either very helpful or, at the very least, reasonably confidence-boosting. Instead of the AI taking your work and rewriting it, it’ll say suggestions like, “Consider adding a visual aid to your blog” or “Improve the hook of your intro to better engage readers”. Of course, the tool is also really excellent should you have follow-up questions about any of the suggestions — and you don’t have to worry about offending ChatGPT if you strongly disagree with their suggestions.
Search Engine Optimization
When you’ve finished writing a blog, you can paste in your work into ChatGPT and ask what keywords stick out, whether your writing will reach your target audience, how you can better optimize your title, and more to optimize your reach. In that way, AI can help take on the burden of some of the less desirable parts of the creative process, namely, the marketing part of it.
In addition to designing meta descriptions and optimizing your human-written content, you can also ask AI text generators what follow-up questions your audience might have — and you can be really specific with this. If you aim to reach 50+ year-olds with a college education who have an interest in technology, for example, you could ask how that grouping of people might respond on average, or what context you are missing from not being in that target audience. The results from these sorts of queries with AI can be great inspiration for additional paragraphs to address counterarguments or to know where your language could be further explained.
Ask Ridiculously Specific Questions
One of the greatest joys of writing, especially with fiction, is researching incredibly specific questions you find yourself wondering over. For a recent project, I found myself researching what the top of Mount Everest smells like, for example. Unable to take the trip myself — and unwilling to risk life and limb for the specific answer, I turned to the wonderful world of the internet. ChatGPT and Google’s Search Engine AI are tied for yielding the quickest, most efficient answers of all places I checked, offering a simple list of nouns that I could then fit poetically into my own writing style.
When writing for descriptive or illustrative purposes, asking quick questions to ChatGPT and others can be a really excellent starting point. In cases where accuracy is important, however, make sure you check the AI’s answer with an actual source — there’s no guarantee [as of writing this] that AI information is accurate. But, for quick answers to inspire creativity, it can make a huge difference!
Also, in case you’re now curious about the answer to the Mount Everest question, it smells like snow, cold, crisp air, and the strong overpowering odor of human waste — not great, and I’m doubly glad I didn’t take the trek now.
Understanding Your Style and Craft
ChatGPT and other AI text generators can be excellent writing tutors in a pinch. When you ask the right questions, you can use AI to better understand your tone, your consistency, your style, and the common mistakes you make. AI can work remarkably well as an additional resource of knowledge — and a reasonably sound second opinion, should you ever want to look more into improving beyond conventional means.
Note that it helps here to already know what the right questions are. These bits of knowledge, fortunately, can also be asked of text generators. In case you’re curious, ChatGPT 3.5 recommends the following questions while you’re reviewing your work:
Who is my audience?
What is the purpose of this work?
What is the tone?
Is the writing clear and concise?
Does the writing remain in a consistent voice?
Are the sentences varied?
Is the language appropriate?
Are there unnecessary words?
What emotions does the writing evoke?
Is the structure logical?
Improving Your Knowledge of Inclusivity and Sensitivity in Your Writing
There isn’t much worse than accidentally being offensive with your writing. Even well-intentioned writers make mistakes sometimes — but ChatGPT can help catch some of those during your review process. You can paste your blog content in AI chats and ask for suggestions for improving your inclusive language. The software can let you know if, perhaps, you’re displaying a bias that you’re not aware of, or have made a point in an insensitive or offensive manner. What better way is there to cheek your inclusivity than to check it against the collective data of the internet?
You can also ask AI to play your devil’s advocate, operating argumentably against the points you’re trying to make. Especially with opinionated and persuasive arguments, ChatGPT might be able to bring up counterarguments you didn’t even consider while you were writing! With a bit of tweaking, you can use AI to gain perspectives you may not be aware of.
Even when AI is indeed capable of fully replicating your style, I believe that there will still be respect for the craft — sure, the invention of factories in the 18th century affected hand-made goods, but they’re still around, and people still cherish those items that are made by human hands. Even now, they’re still preferred. Your writing will still be cherished, even when AI writing is everywhere. With the advent of the camera, painters were terrified that their profession would be made obsolete. What followed was the Impressionist Era — a time of art that many consider a great producer of masterpieces. Let your writing do what impressionists did — make your work human, emotional, and creatively inaccurate — put yourself in what you create. Make it human.
But, dear writer, adapt to these strange times and use the remarkable technology at hand to your advantage.