Navigating AI As a Writing Tool

AI. It wasn’t that long ago that it was mostly talked about in sci-fi plots and conspiracy theories. So it’s no wonder that, today, many of us view its everyday use as both exciting and scary.

In the writing world, our first impressions of how it’s been “optimized” could be best described as cringeworthy—used to generate everything from full essays to wedding vows (dude, don’t do it!). In the hands of professional writers, however, we’re seeing AI used as something else completely: a tool, not a writer. Does that make you feel better but still uncomfortable? Good! Critical analysis of any tool is essential, so here are 5 things to consider about using AI software.

  1. AI is a tool, not a writer. And we don’t know any responsible content creators who use it otherwise. That means that most writers will use AI software for brainstorming and research, largely in the same way that they’d use a google search. Even when they do use it it to help with tasks like building loose outlines or generating keyword lists or headline suggestions, it’s only used as an assistant. The takeaway message? Invest in good writers. They’re more necessary than ever.
  2. Most writers live in fear of unintentional plagiarism. Including fear of plagiarizing themselves! So, no, they’re not likely to start claiming AI-written content as their own. Legal and ethical reasons aside, most writers would never put their name to a single sentence that didn’t meet their standards for grammar, tone, and style. Frankly, most AI-generated content won’t meet that bar.
  3. Your writers are probably already using AI. AI-based transcription tools (like have been in the toolkit of writers for years. But as any writer will tell you, those transcriptions are so far from perfect, it’s laughable. Will transcription software spare you hours of typing, rewinding audio, and cringing at the sound of your voice? Absolutely. But you’ll still need to edit that copy multiple times and fact-check to fill in blanks. Again, it’s a great tool, but not a writer.
  4. There’s bias built into everything—AI software included. This is both a fact and a warning. So if you’re using AI to generate outlines, summaries, or definitions, expect that that content might be partisan, biased, or contain flat-out factual errors. The solution? Diligent fact-checking, rewriting, and editing so that your final draft is both verified and original.
  5. Transparency is important. AI aside, it’s hard to come up with an argument against transparency these days. In fact, with there being so much mistrust of and fear around AI use, a chat that discloses your writing process can be a good starting point for building trust and clarity with clients. So if you’re the writer, come prepared to ask questions about if there are corporate policies in place or proprietary info that needs protecting. Then, even if you aren’t asked, disclose if AI is part of your toolkit and how you leverage it.
  6. Change is scary. As we continue to reimagine our everyday lives and step into uncharted territory, try not to make judgements and decisions from a place of fear. Yes, be cautious. Yes, question what you’ve been told. And then go about exploring the opportunities that technology is placing in front of us. As for using it to pen your wedding vows? That’s all on you…