Generative AI is here. If you tell ChatGPT to write a 300 word story about a hedgehog with hiccups, it will happily do so at least as well as a ten-year-old writing their first Harry Potter fan fiction.
The bad fan fiction doesn’t seem like a big problem, but give that ten-year-old time to grow up and the fear of many writers–that their beautiful stories will be replaced with soulless AI-generated tales–becomes a lot more plausible.
However, some aspects of human writing may never be replicable by AI. Each person brings their unique soul and experiences to their writing in a way AI can’t (we hope).
If you want to distinguish your writing from AI-generated writing, play up your humanity.
Not sure how? Here are some ideas.
Agonise over every word
Have you seen how fast ChatGPT composes?
No need to look if you haven’t–it works at a brisk typing speed.
What ChatGPT doesn’t do is sit down to write for an hour, have trouble getting the story flowing, and end up with only 15 new words, 14 of which it then deletes.
You know how they say the first draft doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to exist? ChatGPT is right on board with this.
So to distinguish yourself as a human writer from ChatGPT, get stuck. Agonise. Produce no words. Then wonder why your book isn’t finished yet.
Get distracted making a mood board and a play list
When ChatGPT sits down with its coffee to write a story, I’m pretty sure it never opens up the document, then gets distracted for three hours making the perfect mood board for the story.
Nor does it spend spend two hours finding just the right songs to capture the vibe of the cosy seaside cottage where the main character falls in love with the dolphin.
Do either of these instead of writing, and you’ll know no AI will ever take your job.
Suffer from imposter syndrome
Some people you have to hate, because they’re so unshakably confident in their abilities.
ChatGPT is one such person. Most human writers are not.
ChatGPT doesn’t get 10k, or 20k, or 50k words into its manuscript, decide the whole thing is garbage, tell itself it has no business thinking it can write, and almost quit writing to become a barista.
So when you hit the 10k horrors (at whatever word count they might occur), remember you’re distinguishing yourself from ChatGPT. Ride the wave until you remember you actually can write, then get back to work.
(Not that the world doesn’t need more good baristas.)
Get sidetracked by a shiny new idea
You know when you’re 60k into writing your book–the initial excitement has worn off and you’re not yet up to the race to the finish?
Then along comes the Shiny New Idea.
Pick me! it says. I’m beautiful and majestic and haven’t yet been sullied by your attempts to pin me down. Wouldn’t you be happier writing me than writing that old thing?
If you’re tempted–really tempted–to listen to Shiny New Idea and jump in and start a new book (even though you currently have five at various stages of unfinished-ness) then congratulations! You’re distinguishing yourself from AI!
Enjoy your humanity.
Then make notes so you don’t forget Shiny New Idea and get back to the book you’re supposed to be writing.
Suffer from cat or coffee on the keyboard
Typing is harder for humans than for ChatGPT because we have physical bodies. This can lead to many difficulties not faced by AI.
Like when your cat lies down on your arm and you’re left typing one-handed.
Or when he insists on typing 8iuuuuuuuu in the middle of a climactic scene.
Or when your beloved and amazing-smelling coffee leaps into the path of your elbow and ends up all over your keyboard.
These are the trials and tribulations that set you as a writer apart from generative AI.
They confirm your humanity, so lean in to them. Just don’t forget to back up your work.
What distinguishes you as a writer from AI? Share your human superpowers.
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