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How Collaborating with AI Can Generate More Ideas… Not Just Content
So that you can become a better writer… not just a prolific one.
So that you can become a better writer… not just a prolific one.
If you found a meditation technique that would help you generate 100 new writing ideas a day, would you try it?
Of course, you would.
Then why be so hesitant to try an artificial writing tool?
Many writers think artificial intelligence is for lazy people or somehow makes you less of a writer.
Sure, AI can generate mass quantities of average or mundane writing for you. That can be a real advantage when you want to spend more time on interesting writing or solve a more complex problems with your writing. But AI can also collaborate with you in the creative process to generate more ideas than you could come up with alone.
Do lazy people outline their blog post before they write? Free write for 10 minutes? Look over notes for new connections? Jot down audience and purpose?
But these are all things effective writers do inside a high-quality Ai writing tools. These tools only amplify the work you are doing… much like meditation.
Using AI writing tools, you can brainstorm or plan ideas, explore connections between ideas, rapidly develop outlines and drafts, edit, and revise. AI can even help you think through audience and purpose (even though AI itself has no idea of audience).
Working with AI can be like working with another human with amazing analysis capabilities… but only if you work them… not order them to do things for you.
People are having a lot of fun telling GPT-3 what to write. But that’s only going to get you so far if you are writing anything useful.
AI works best if you incorporate the tools into your writing process… not allow it to take over.
Here are just a few examples of how to work with AI when developing creative or meaningful writing.
When you brainstorm alone, you can quickly identify many good ideas for a piece, but then get stuck trying to think beyond your perspective. Working with AI, you can generate a large volume of ideas, then use your own brain to determine which fit best with each other, as well as with your audience and purpose.
For example, you can use the tool to generate a list of ideas or prompts related to the topic you want to brainstorm. Enter a few keywords or phrases related to your topic and ask the tool to generate a list of ideas or suggestions. This prompt might look something like this:
Generate a list of ideas [for using AI in the healthcare industry]
You can also use AI tools to help you explore different angles or perspectives on your topic. For example, you could ask the tool to generate a list of questions related to your topic, or you can have it generate different ways of framing the issue or problem you’re trying to solve. Something like this:
Generate a list of questions [related to ethics of AI in the healthcare industry.]
You could use the tool to help you generate and expand on ideas. For example, you could enter a seed idea or concept and ask the tool to generate a list of related ideas or to expand upon the idea in more detail.
Expand on [how AI affects patient privacy].
Keep in mind… most of these ideas will not be new, creative, or world-changing. Any idea AI has is coming from its dataset and most likely exists somewhere else… but then again, so are most of our own ideas.
Developing ideas is hard work, no matter how you slice it. But AI can be a helpful partner.
Thinking through audience and purpose.
If Ai is not giving you good output, the problem is with your input. Ai works best when you have a specific audience and purpose… just like writing on your own. But the AI will quickly tell you when these are too vague. AI won’t be able to generate meaningful ideas or content if it doesn’t know who it is writing for or why (and neither will you).
When you think about the audience, consider not only who they are but what they want. What is their level of knowledge? Are they interested in a specific topic? What kind of language do they respond to? Knowing these things will help you prompt AI to produce output that addresses the audience specifically. Not sure? Ask your AI.
List 5 audiences that might be interested in [AI in the healthcare industry].
Your purpose should also be clearly defined before using AI. Are you trying to persuade, inform, or entertain readers? Do you have an argument to make or an opinion to express? Defining this ahead of time will help AI focus its output on the right topics and create content that serves your purpose. Need ideas, simply ask.
Why would [patients] be interested in ethical issues of AI in healthcare?
Finally, make sure you are aware of the context in which this content will exist. Is it an article for a magazine or a blog post for social media? Keeping these details in mind will help ensure that the output produced by AI aligns with both your goals and the expectations of your venue.
Give me 3 ideas for magazine articles that patients might read.
By taking the time to think through audience and purpose before stepping into AI tools, you can maximize its potential as part of your writing process.
Once you hit the sweet spot, AI will reward you with much better ideas.
Once you get these right, AI can generate all kinds of outlines that you might want to use. The goal of planning is to figure out the best way to structure your ideas. To do that, you need options. The best writers generate multiple outlines and decide which structures to try.
AI tools can help you do this by suggesting potential outlines based on your input. For example, if you provide a topic, an audience, and a purpose, AI can come up with a few different structures that could work for your project. The more specific, the better.
Generate an outline for [a magazine article that informs patients about how AI in healthcare may affect their privacy and what they can do about it.]
Or you can create the outline yourself and get some ideas on how to fill it out. But this requires you to generate lots of responses (like free writing) and scrutinize and examine the results (like looking through your notes). AI can help flesh out your outline with additional content and ideas. This might include examples, illustrations, explanations, or even facts and quotes.
What stories might illustrate [how AI intrudes on patient privacy]?
Keep in mind, though, GPT-3 can make false information sound real… and it has no ability to determine what is true and what is false. Most details will probably not be true and will need verified. Better yet, simply use it as a research prompt and go find something real.
Planning is an essential part of successful writing, and AI tools are great resources for this process. Their ability to generate potential outlines and expand upon existing ones helps explore more potential paths as you flesh out your ideas.
Style is an important part of any written piece, and AI can help improve the quality and flow of your writing. Because today’s AI tools are essentially predictive text generators on steroids, these tools can provide you with alternative phrasing suggestions on how you might express important concepts within a piece of content more effectively. AI writing tools not only help writers convey original ideas more accurately, but also open up a new array of possibilities.
AI can suggest different phrasing that may be more interesting or effective than what you originally wrote. For example, if you’re trying to emphasize a point, AI might suggest a metaphor or simile instead of just saying it directly.
List 5 metaphors that might describe [the way AI uses private patient data].
The AI tool can also help you come up with alternative words or phrases to use in the same sentence. This not only adds variety but also can help you change your persona or voice to match your audience. Or you can ask AI to re-write something in different ways.
Rewrite [this paragraph in less than 100 words.]
Keep in mind that AI tools are still drawing on writing found on the internet, which is not stylistically consistent and not always especially good. Don’t trust your AI to rewrite things for you… just use it for ideas when you are stuck.
Note: You may have heard of ChatGPT3, which allows you to literally ask AI questions like these prompts. But you can do this in most AI tools simply by typing out the prompt and asking the tool to expand or write.
AI doesn’t substitute for these steps. The quality of the ideas generated depends directly on your input in text, time, and attention. AI tools are useful tools to use as you work your writing and help augment what you might already know. These tools can’t replace the creativity and skills that come with training and experience, but they can make your content better overall.
You still have to think and do the work… Ai just multiplies what you have to work with.
To make Ai work, you need to collaborate… just like you might with a human… and this is hard work. As with any other collaboration, though, the payoff is higher quality output and better ideas.
If you want to try some AI tools focused on creativity, here are my two favorites.
Soduwrite (affiliate) focuses on fiction writing, but can be used for other genres. The interface encourages users to write their own text, but use various tools to enhance their writing, like brainstorming, describe, and change tone.
ClosersCopy (affiliate) is focused more on copywriting, but is also adaptable to other genres. The developer and community are constantly adding new tools and frameworks. In fact, it is really easy to make your own frameworks!