But not everyone is happy about this new technology. Two problems and questions have surfaced: Will AI take my job? Will my creativity be stolen by the machine?
The creative human writers that craft screenplays, scripts and plots are going on strike in Hollywood. Job losses are happening and the people that act and read their lines are standing next to them in support.
The last time writers and actors in Hollwood went on strike was when Marilyn Monroe was a starlet and Ronald Reagan was an actor (instead of the president of the United States).
Why is this happening?
The writers are afraid that the fast rise of streaming platforms (Netflix and its deep-pocketed competitors including Amazon and Apple) and AI are changing business models.
Writers are facing an existential crisis that poses a threat to their jobs, career, and life purpose. This crisis comes in the form of a robot called ChatGPT and its evil father, Darth “AI” Vader.
Why it matters
The media industry is like any capitalist venture. They want to do more with less and make more money. It’s called profit and power.
AI can replace (or misplace) writers and actors for the simple jobs right now with very little “prompting”. But the future promises a much more dystopian reality for those that refuse to use it.
AI may be able to do it all and very soon. From the idea, then the script, followed by the production and even the marketing.
So we are working out how to keep the humans happy, employed and fulfilled without ignoring the relentless march of tech. We want to continue to evolve without losing our soul and purpose along the way.
Lazy or creative?
Essentially I am quite lazy as most humans are. I want to get paid the most while doing the least (and having the most fun along the way). But… I also want to feel I have a purpose.
Maybe that could be summed up with the cliched phrase of “having my cake and eating it too.”
Using ChatGPT makes me feel like I am cheating if I just prompt, copy, paste and publish. That’s lazy.
For most human beings creativity provides purpose and meaning. Most of us want to enjoy work and be happy.
At the highest level of Maslow’s Pyramid, the pinnacle of human needs, lies the aspiration to achieve self-actualization and fully unleash our creative potential as individuals.
If you can reach that you have “purpose”.
The disturbing chatter
So…the generative AI platform ChatGPT is both a curse and a blessing for writers. It allows you to write more in a day and much faster. It’s easy to enter a ChatGPT “prompt”, copy, dump it into draft and add a bit of editing and “voila” publish!
But just doing that is unfulfilling and leaves a void for most writers.
The murmuring challenge that nags a writer can be summed up by these questions:
- How can I use it as a tool but without letting it become a creative killing crutch?
- Can I make the writing sound human but still let the robot do the heavy information and research lifting?
- Can I make my writing creative and human despite the easy route of handing over almost all the responsibility to the machine?
If you are not careful and you become lazy, the output will be obvious to many that it was written by a machine.
The challenge: Using ChatGPT as a tool and not a crutch
ChatGPT is thought of as a tool and not as a replacement for the human writer. We need to tell stories and we need to make it emotional and AI still struggles with that.
So what is an approach that helps us be more productive but also allows us to be creative as a writer?
The 7 step process of creative writing in a world of AI
This is my attempt to lay out a writing process that is both productive and creative. And I am sure this will evolve over time.
Also this process is slanted more towards writing information and education type articles. But it is important to use storytelling and creative writing for that genre to take it from fact to fun.
What we are trying to do is to use the AI tool of ChatGPT to help you write and enhance but not replace your creativity.
So…here’s a possible 7 step process you can follow to combine your human writing creativity with the assistance of ChatGPT without handing over the reins or control.
It is also not necessarily sequential and you can flip each step around to suit your own style and approach.
Step 1: Brainstorming and concept development
Sometimes I feel like a train. Stuck on the same rail (rut) and just following the same route.
The ideas are constrained by old habits and thinking that are calcified and frozen in time. Cognitive bias is alive and kicking and you are not aware of its constriction and restriction.
ChatGPT can be used as a tool that can challenge your fixed ideas and concepts by throwing new ideas into the pot and in combinations you maybe hadn’t thought of.
So in this first step put in your topic and then ask it to write 10 headline options. This will often help with getting you started and get past the “writers block” challenge.
Using the right “Prompt Engineering” can provide an outline (and much more) for your first draft that often astounds you with its distillation of information into an outline that is often fully formed without going anywhere else.
Here are “100 Most Useful ChatGPT Prompts for Writers” and here are some examples of prompts that you can use:
- “Write a comprehensive guide on how to start a successful online business, including tips on finding a profitable niche, building a website, and driving traffic to your site”
- “Write a step-by-step tutorial on how to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) for your blog or website”
- “Write a comprehensive guide on how to start and grow a successful YouTube channel, including tips on creating engaging content and building a community”
- “Write a comprehensive guide on how to create and monetize a successful blog, including tips on content creation, building an audience, and monetization strategies”
- “Write a comprehensive guide on how to start a successful podcast, including tips on finding a niche, recording equipment, and building an audience”
Step 2: Create an outline
A lot of people forget that search engines are important in getting found as a writer and I often ask ChatGPT to write an outline for the topic that is optimized for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
There are 8.5 billion searches on Google every day. So if you can rank on page one then that can be thousands of website views for free every month.
Example of a ChatGPT prompt using the SEO outline approach:
“Write an outline for an article on how to start a successful online business, including tips on finding a profitable niche, building a website, and driving traffic to your site that is optimized for SEO”
Not only am I wanting to use the right keywords and phrases but also write for the “snippets” that often appear at the top of Google search results.
Here are the snippets for the search term “Tips on how to start a successful online business”.
Answering those questions within your article is an important tactic for giving Google and your readers what they want.
SEO can be complicated but there are some basics in writing for search engines.
- Write a headline with the keyword in it.
- Include the keyword in the URL
- Include the keyword in your first sentence or two and also right through the article in your sub-titles.
- Link to outside sources
- Link to your own articles that are already ranking or have relevant supporting content
- Use simple language for readability
To help guide you if you have WordPress is the SEO plugin Yoast.
Step 3: Write an introduction (without ChatGPT)
Once you have a topic (inspired by multiple headlines) and an outline then it’s time to write that introduction.
I generally use two key approaches.
- Find some facts and figures that no one generally knows or…
- A story that could be personal or not easily found somewhere else.
Why shouldn’t you use AI to write the introduction?
Chat GPT will often write an introduction that will look like and smell like “AI”.
And it will taste and look like vanilla instead of chocolate or strawberry.
Introducing an article is an art even if it is still about informing and educating. When writing a story from your own life or from somewhere else the next step is make a point for the story.
Because stories are good but when someone is reading it they will ask “what is the point of this?” So…tell them.
What’s also great about storytelling is this:
“People will forget what you told them but they will not forget how you made them feel”.
Storytelling gets to the core of what it means to be human and it touches hearts and feelings.
Once you have their attention you can then elaborate and double down. You can then go deeper for those that are hanging around, and provide them with meaty information to chew on.
Step 4: Writing the first draft
You have written a draft introduction and you have put in the outline. You now have the skeleton for your article.
Here are some simple tips for this part:
- Use ChatGPT to write some substantial content for each sub-topic. What Chat GPT is good at is doing the heavy lifting on the “information” and your job is wrapping it with inspiration.
- Ask it to write however many words that you think you want (tell ChatGPT how many words to write) for each of these sub-topics.
- Also it generally works best to use a separate prompt for each section.
Step 5: Enhancing the sub-topics
Once you have put the information then you enhance it with your words at the start of each subtopic to make it interesting. Maybe a story or an interesting angle of stats. This is where your writing creativity needs to be revealed and added.
Ensure that your creative voice remains prominent. Is it cheeky, fun, or irreverent? The educational aspect should enrich the content without overshadowing your unique writing style. Making the start of each subtopic clear and interesting is important to keep people reading and drawing them into your article.
You can also ask ChatGPT to provide additional explanations, clarify complex points, or suggest relevant examples and analogies.
Step 6: Fact checking and accuracy (and other problems with ChatGPT)
ChatGPT has been known to hallucinate on facts and figures. It also has some other problems that you need to be aware of such as bias and privacy issues.
It sometimes is inaccurate and embellishes facts. So it’s essential to fact-check the information provided by the AI. Verify the accuracy of the suggestions from other sources including a Google search before incorporating them into your article.
Step 7: Reviewing and Refining
Take the suggestions and insights from ChatGPT and review your draft with fresh eyes. After incorporating ChatGPT’s insights, edit and refine your article. Ensure a smooth flow of information, logical progression, and clear explanations.
The areas I concentrate on are the following
- Headline – I agonize over headlines as this is the first thing people read. Get that right and they will read the introduction. Here is a recent article I wrote on the “Art and Science of Great Headlines”
- Introduction – Make it interesting and get to the point. One writing model (and book) that has helped me polish this is “Smart Brevity”. In essence, the book outlines 2 key elements after the headline to capture someone’s attention that will get them to click and keep reading. Your introduction should include an opening sentence (or fact) that is relevant to the headline that tells me something new or interesting I haven’t heard before. Next: You need to tell them “Why it matters”
- Flow – Make sure that the flow of the article is coherent and makes sense. Read and review from a reader’s perspective as if they were a beginner. Also as a writer you want to tempt the reader to keep reading.
- Conclusion – ChatGPT will also provide a conclusion but they are usually generic and lacking character and will look like a lazy summary. It will make sense but will feel stilted.
If you get those fundamentals right then your readers will love you because you haven’t wasted their time and you’ve delivered something of value with brevity!
So…using ChatGPT to prompt, copy, paste and publish is productive but it misses the important thing that writers crave. Being creative.
Yes…ChatGPT is a valuable tool, but it’s important to maintain your own creative voice and make informed decisions about which suggestions to incorporate. You are ultimately the author and should feel empowered to make choices that align with your artistic vision.
These 7 steps and processes are an approach that works for me and will likely change over time.
Don’t let the machine get in the way of being human.