Content writers have come a long way since the days of clacking typewriters and dog-eared dictionaries, as they’ve learned to embrace the digital revolution with open arms and nimble fingertips. But there’s a new kid on the block now, and they’re changing the game again, turning some writers into Luddites.
The ChatGPT Conundrum
Unless you’ve been stranded on a remote island for the last few months (if you’ve been, then I’m really glad you made it back!), you know that the game-changing newcomer I’m talking about is ChatGPT, OpenAI’s artificial intelligence chatbot.
The ranks of content writers who oppose ChatGPT consist mostly of deeply passionate wordsmiths who love their craft. They believe that the essence of good writing lies in the human touch, the nuanced emotions, and the unique voice that only a living, breathing person can bring to the table.
Some of these purists have tried ChatGPT a few times and found its output inferior to their own writing. Others don’t want to touch the technology because they see it as an existential threat. Both of these perspectives are understandable.
- Yes, a skilled writer will produce significantly better content given the same input (“Could you please write an article about the digitalization of procurement?”) than ChatGPT.
- Yes, ChatGPT is an existential threat, and it is already causing writers to lose their jobs (example A, example B, and example C).
Despite this, not using ChatGPT for content writing is a big mistake. Why? Because the chatbot can be an incredibly useful writing assistant when used ethically and responsibly.
Harnessing the Power of ChatGPT Without Losing Credibility
Modern digital dictionaries and spellcheckers are all content writers’ loyal sidekicks, guiding them through the treacherous terrains of grammar, style, and punctuation. The best writers don’t use these tools to compensate for their weaknesses; instead, they use them to enhance their writing. The same principle can be applied to ChatGPT.
Of course, no self-respecting content writer wants to be accused of outsourcing their creativity to a machine — let alone of copying & pasting AI-generated content and claiming it to be theirs.
But there’s a huge difference between blindly following ChatGPT’s lead and using it to grease your own creative wheels. It’s the same difference between abusing a thesaurus and using it to perfectly capture the essence of what you’re trying to convey. The former is a hollow, mechanical exercise, while the latter is an enhancement that elevates your writing to new heights.
Not convinced yet? Let’s explore several ways ChatGPT can be a perfectly legitimate and immensely useful tool in every content writer’s toolbox.
Brainstorm Your Heart Out
One of the most time-consuming parts of content writing is coming up with ideas for what to write about, and then building upon those ideas to craft a compelling narrative. With ChatGPT, you can enter your own digital writers’ room and brainstorm with a virtual colleague who is already to share a multitude of ideas in a matter of seconds. It’s then only a matter of time before a spark of inspiration ignites your own creative flames.
Your ChatGPT brainstorming session can start with something as simple as:
Prompt: Generate 10 unique and captivating blog post topic ideas in the following field: [field]
And continue with prompts like this:
Prompt: What other issues may people who want to switch from Windows to Mac encounter?
Prompt: What are some tips for staying motivated when working from home?
No matter the topic, ChatGPT is always ready to assist with generating ideas and providing inspiration.
Practice AI-Assisted Editing
It can be difficult to spot errors, inconsistencies, or awkward phrasings when you’ve been staring at the same piece of writing for hours on end. That’s why all magazines whose content is worth reading employ professional editors who meticulously review every article before it’s published.
Of course, many content writers don’t work with editors, and those who do always prefer to get it right the first time. The good news is that ChatGPT is a surprisingly reliable editor, and you can hire it for free or next to nothing, depending on if you decide to get the Pro subscription. Once hired, you can tell it to identify, for example:
- Run-on sentences
- Repeated words
- Passive voice
- Words and phrases that are not suitable for the target audience
- Grammar errors
- Issues with coherence and clarity
Prompt: Can you please help me edit this blog post? I want to make sure it's free of grammatical errors and that it flows well. Here's the text: [insert text]. Can you please suggest any edits or improvements?
Dream of Electric Sheep
A fitting metaphor, simile, or some other literary device can transform a forgettable sentence into a memorable one. Because ChatGPT has been fed more written text than any writer has ever seen, it can dream up vivid imagery and original ideas at a dizzyingly fast rate.
Sure, most of its dreams are just noise, but every once in a while, ChatGPT conjures up a true gem — it just takes a good writer to recognize it, dig it up, and polish it into a sparkling diamond.
The following three prompts show how ChatGPT can be used to jump-start your own inspiration:
Prompt: The "moat and castle" metaphor in cybersecurity is overused. Can you come up with 5 alternative metaphors?
Prompt: Can you use a simile to describe the feeling of winning a championship game?
Prompt: I need a creative way to describe the flavor profile of my new restaurant dish: [name and description of the dish]
Break Through the Wordless Wall
All writers have experienced the intense feeling of being stuck in the writing process with an inability to make progress and generate fresh ideas. This feeling is called writer’s block, and ChatGPT is an exceedingly effective antidote for overcoming it.
By providing a virtually endless source of inspiration, ChatGPT can help writers break through the mental barriers that keep them stuck in the same place. If that place is the middle of a sentence, then a prompt like this can yank your brain out of the creative mud:
Prompt: Finish this sentence: "The night was dark and stormy, and as I walked down the empty street, I couldn't help but feel like..."
The goal here isn’t to copy & paste ChatGPT’s output and call it a day. Instead, the idea is to find a direction that leads to the desired destination and then get there on your own, adding your own personal touch and style along the way.
Supercharge Your Research
Most content writers are not subject-matter experts. Before they can put their digital quills to paper, they need to conduct extensive research to get up to speed on the topic at hand. Back in the day, researching meant leafing through dusty tomes in a library. Today, it means scouring endless pages of search engine results. In the near future, it could mean interacting with advanced AI systems like ChatGPT to gather information more efficiently.
Right now, you can ask ChatGPT to explain a complex topic or provide an overview of an unfamiliar field of knowledge:
Prompt: Can you please explain quantum mechanics to me as if I were a high-school student?
Prompt: Can you give me an introduction to linguistics, including its sub-fields and how they relate to each other?
Soon, ChatGPT will be able to browse the internet just like Bing Chat can, giving it the ability to find more specific and up-to-date information on any given topic. Finally, content writers will be able to dig deeper into their research than ever before without keeping their clients waiting.
Content writers who refuse to embrace ChatGPT are missing out on a valuable writing assistant that can help them unleash their own creativity and produce even better content. Yes, there are valid concerns about the technology’s impact on the industry, but we shouldn’t let them prevent us from using artificial intelligence to its full potential — ethically and responsibly, of course. Ultimately, ChatGPT is just the latest innovation in a long line of tools that make it easier for writers to get their creative juices flowing.