AI writing apps, programs, and tools are all over the news. People are reacting. They’re writing articles and opinion pieces, they’re recording podcasts, they’re discussing it in Twitter threads.
Some say don’t worry, AI writing tools can’t write like humans. Others claim this is an inkling of what’s ahead—they’re going to surpass our skills.
You’ll find articles suggesting we sign up and use the tech as a free writing assistant to help with researching, drafting, and writer’s block.
Of course there are those imagining worst case scenarios, but it’s not all gloom and doom. In fact, for a glimpse of what’s possible now, check out my “interview” with an AI writing app that’s making the headlines: ChatGPT.
The first thing I asked:
Why should writers bother with learning the craft of writing when we can now use AI writing apps like ChatGPT?
Here’s what ChatGPT wrote in response:
While AI writing tools like ChatGPT can be helpful for generating ideas or suggesting potential phrasings, they should not be seen as a replacement for learning the craft of writing. AI writing tools are limited by their programming, and they are not able to fully understand or replicate the creativity and nuance of human writing.
What do you think? It’s pretty good, isn’t it?
Let’s continue. My questions are bold.
What should writers do to learn the craft of writing?
ChatGPT: There are many ways that writers can learn the craft of writing, including:
- Reading widely and critically to develop an understanding of different styles and techniques
- Studying the works of successful and influential writers to learn from their approaches
- Taking writing classes or workshops to learn from experienced instructors and receive feedback on your work
- Practicing writing regularly to improve your skills and develop your voice
- Seeking out and implementing feedback from others, such as beta readers or writing group members
- Being open to learning new things and trying out new techniques to find what works best for you.
Is it better to write conversationally or to infuse our writing with literary techniques?
ChatGPT: It ultimately depends on the context and purpose of the writing. Writing conversationally can be effective for making the text more relatable and engaging for the reader, while incorporating literary techniques can add depth and complexity to the writing. In general, it is important for writers to consider their audience and their goals when deciding how to approach their writing.
What kind of audience would prefer a conversational writing style?
ChatGPT: A conversational writing style is often preferred by readers who are looking for a more relatable and accessible text. This style can make the writing feel more personal and engaging, and can help to establish a connection with the reader. It is often used in informal writing, such as in blog posts or social media posts, where the goal is to engage the reader and invite them to participate in a conversation.
What kind of audience or reader would prefer a literary style of writing?
ChatGPT: A literary style of writing is often preferred by readers who are looking for a more complex and sophisticated text. This style typically incorporates literary techniques such as figurative language, symbolism, and other devices to add depth and complexity to the writing. It is often used in formal or academic writing, where the goal is to convey complex ideas or to engage the reader on a deeper level.
Name three things a writer can add to her writing that will make it stand out compared to AI-generated text.
ChatGPT: Some things that a writer can add to their writing to make it stand out compared to AI-generated text include:
- A unique and personal voice that reflects the writer’s own experiences and perspective
- Creative and original ideas that go beyond what an AI tool would produce
- Emotion and feeling that conveys the writer’s passion and connection to their subject matter.
(I kind of liked the answer and I wanted to see what else it might recommend, so tried to phrase the follow-up question to make it expand.)
Name 10 things a writer can add to his writing to make it stand out compared with AI-generated text.
ChatGPT: Some additional things that a writer can add to their writing to make it stand out compared to AI-generated text include:
- Complex and nuanced characters that have depth and individuality
- Descriptions that use sensory language to bring the setting and scenes to life
- Metaphors and similes that add creativity and depth to the writing
- Dialogue that captures the unique voices and personalities of the characters
- Plot twists and unexpected turns that keep the reader engaged and guessing
- A clear and engaging structure that guides the reader through the story
- Themes and symbols that add layers of meaning to the writing
- Humor and wit that adds levity and entertainment value
- Emotional resonance that connects with the reader on a deeper level
- A distinctive style that sets the writer’s work apart from others.
What does the “craft” of writing mean for nonfiction writers?
ChatGPT: For nonfiction writers, the “craft” of writing refers to the skills and techniques used to effectively communicate information and ideas. Nonfiction writing can take many different forms, such as journalism, academic writing, technical writing, and more. In all of these cases, the writer must be able to clearly and accurately convey information and ideas, while also engaging and interesting the reader.
What does the phrase “the art of writing” mean?
ChatGPT: The phrase “the art of writing” refers to the creative and expressive aspects of writing. It encompasses not only the technical skills and techniques used in writing, but also the ability to use language in a way that is imaginative, evocative, and unique. In this sense, writing is seen as a form of art, in which the writer uses words to create something that is beautiful, moving, or thought-provoking.
What would happen if AI writing apps started authoring novels?
ChatGBT: If AI writing apps were able to author novels, it could potentially revolutionize the publishing industry. AI tools could potentially generate novel-length works at a much faster rate than human writers, and they could potentially do so without experiencing writer’s block or other common challenges that human writers face. However, there are also concerns that the widespread use of AI for writing could lead to a loss of diversity and individuality in literature, as AI-generated works may lack the creativity and uniqueness of human-authored works. It is difficult to predict exactly how the use of AI for novel-writing would play out, but it is likely that it would have both positive and negative impacts on the publishing industry.
Could AI writing apps write nonfiction books right now?
ChatGPT: It is possible for AI writing tools to generate nonfiction content, but it is unlikely that they would be able to produce a full-length nonfiction book at this time. AI tools are limited by their programming, and they are not able to fully understand or replicate the complexity and nuance of human writing. While they may be able to generate short pieces of nonfiction content, such as news articles or product descriptions, it is currently beyond their capabilities to write a book-length work of nonfiction that covers a specific topic in depth.
When do people (or AI writing apps themselves) predict they will surpass human writing techniques?
ChatGPT: It is difficult to predict exactly when AI writing tools will surpass human writing techniques, if they ever do. While AI technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, there are many challenges and limitations to using AI for writing. One major challenge is that AI tools are not able to fully understand or replicate the creativity and nuance of human writing, which are essential components of good writing. Additionally, AI tools are limited by their programming, and they may not be able to adapt to new situations or changing contexts in the same way that human writers can. For these reasons, it is difficult to predict when, or if, AI writing tools will surpass human writing techniques.
Was that answer supplied to reassure the person asking it that AI is not taking over the world in a decade?
ChatGPT: No, that was not the intention of my previous answer. My answer was intended to provide information about the current state of AI writing tools and their limitations, as well as to discuss some of the challenges and uncertainties surrounding their potential future development. I am a large language model trained by OpenAI, and I do not have the ability to make predictions or assumptions about the future. My purpose is to provide accurate and helpful information based on the knowledge that I have been trained on.
(It got a little creepy when ChatGPT started using first person pronouns.)
What would you advise a person do over the next year to become a better writer?
ChatGPT: If you are looking to become a better writer, there are several steps that you can take over the next year to improve your skills and develop your craft. Some suggestions include:
- Read widely and critically to expose yourself to different styles and techniques
- Study the works of successful and influential writers to learn from their approaches
- Take writing classes or workshops to learn from experienced instructors and receive feedback on your work
- Practice writing regularly, and try out new techniques and styles to find what works best for you
- Seek out and implement feedback from others, such as beta readers or writing group members
- Be open to learning and trying new things, and don’t be afraid to experiment and take risks with your writing.
- Sign up for The Art & Craft of Writing, an eight-week intensive launching in January 2023. (Just kidding. ChatGPT didn’t say that, but that’s the only thing I’ve added, and it is open for enrollment right now…just go to annkroeker.com/artcraftwriting)
AI Writing Apps Need Editors (and maybe a coach!)
You may notice that those bullet points—except the one that I added—are suspiciously similar to its response to another question. Also, I noticed repetition (in its response to AI writing apps authoring novels, it repeated “potentially” three times) and areas where its style could be jazzed up a bit (so much passive voice!), but overall, what do you think?
Is this the beginning of the end for us as writers? Or is it opening up new possibilities?
Are human writers everywhere about to lose their jobs? Or can human writers everywhere start using this technology in some creative way to actually advance their work and skills?
I’d love to discuss this with you.
Oh! One more thing.
As a writing coach, I was curious about its response to another question I had, so here’s a bonus interaction:
Could AI replace writing coaches?
ChatGPT: It is possible that AI could be used to assist writing coaches in their work, but it is unlikely that AI could completely replace writing coaches. Writing coaches are trained to help writers improve their writing skills, and they use a variety of techniques and strategies to do so. This typically involves working with writers one-on-one and providing individualized feedback and guidance based on the writer’s specific needs and goals. While AI may be able to provide some helpful suggestions and feedback for writers, it is unlikely that it could replicate the personalized and human-centered approach of a trained writing coach. Additionally, AI may not have the same level of understanding and empathy as a human writing coach, which could make it less effective at helping writers improve their skills.
⦾ ⦾ ⦾
Good point, ChatGPT, good point. Writing coaches do indeed have training, offer understanding, and bring empathy to every single coaching session.
And yet writers may be able to lasso the technology to their benefit.
So…how can writers keep up as AI writing tools keep getting better?
Learn and practice the art and craft of writing so you develop your unique voice and style. Tell stories, express opinions, and write with heart….with empathy.
That’ll make you stand out not only from AI-written text, but from any text.
Let’s talk about AI writing tools. What are you thinking and feeling about ChatGPT and other AI writing apps and programs?
Ready to elevate your writing craft—with a coach to guide you?
Get the direction you need to improve as a writer with The Art & Craft of Writing.
Now enrolling cohorts that launch Jan 9, 2023.
In this eight-week intensive, I’ll help you elevate your writing skills and create a compelling piece you’ll be proud to show an editor or agent. By the end of our time together, you’ll have completed a 3,000-word piece, along with multiple short submissions that invite you to experiment and play with new techniques.
Jane Anderson says
That was intriguing. I listened twice and there is so much to your questions and AI answers I will listen again and maybe again. The answers AI gave were straightforward and made sense. In fact I could almost hear you say everything the ‘machine’ said. We haven’t even scratched the surface of the capabilities or capacity of the extent of AI. The key will be to use it judiciously and as a servant to us; not become a slave to it.
Ann Kroeker says
Thank you for taking time to listen. My husband thought I should have created a computer effect when reading it, but the answers come written, so I read them with my normal voice.
One of my thoughts: ChatGPT gave pretty basic answers. Nothing surprising. No stories. No personality. It might work well for, as you say, a “straightforward” article or blog post.
I’ll bet it improves rapidly, even with judicious use. I also feel we must credit its answers, and I wonder how many people are doing that? Then again, people don’t credit ghostwriters. It raises a lot of questions!
Dheepa R. Maturi says
Ann, you are always at the forefront of new writing technologies and possibilities, and I truly admire and appreciate that. I was feeling weirdly reluctant to learn about AI-written text, but this article offered a perfect bridge for me. [Here, I need to tell you that I read your article this time, rather than listening to the podcast. If I’d listened to your voice reading the AI responses, perhaps I’d have felt differently–which is also an interesting data point!] I definitely experienced some creepiness during the use of “I” as you pointed out–and even at the technically perfect prose. But I also felt certain limitations, repetitiveness, maybe even a bit of hollowness–unless that’s an act it’s putting on–yikes!
Ann Kroeker says
It’s currently lacking personality, but I’ll bet it learns enough to fake it someday soon, making up stories, adding a conversational style/tone. I’m watching carefully (cautiously) and not interacting with it too much…the more we feed it, the more it learns from us.
Twyla Franz says
You are the best question-asker, Ann!!
Ann Kroeker says
I liked messing with it!