top of page
  • chris-marcatili

The Best Way To Use ChatGPT In Creative Writing Is Not To Use ChatGPT

When I wrote this first line I was staring at a blank page. Sometimes, the blank page is the hardest to work with. There's too much potential, too many directions to take. Perhaps this is my editor brain, developed over recent years to engage deeply with the words already lining a page in pursuit of ever-better ways to communicate. Or maybe it's plain old 'blank canvas syndrome.'

This is when I occasionally turn to ChatGPT. Not to cheat – or at least, not in the way you might think. I use ChatGPT to react against what it churns out.

Allow me to explain.

When I thought about writing this post, I threw into ChatGPT the following prompt: 'Write a 300 word blog post entitled "The Best Way To Use ChatGPT Is Not To Use ChatGPT".' It wrote a brief post explaining that by stepping away from modern technology we have the opportunity to 'foster real human connection', encourage 'personal growth and self reliance', and to 'reconnect with the natural world.' Putting aside the fact that ChatGPT couldn't identify reasons specific to itself as a technology that I might not want to use it and instead proposed avoiding technology all together, the output was blandly positive, generic, and utterly boring. Fine for the minions of people clogging the arteries of the internet with 'content' like so much useless fatty tissue but not ideal for someone who wants to write an interesting blog post or, for that matter, an inventive story.

But with the words it produced, I could now react. I knew I didn't like them and I could start to articulate why. The ideas were too generic, too unspecific. They didn't have my voice. I could grapple with what I was reading and, in doing so, put my own ideas together. Even if you're getting ChatGPT to help with something very specific – say, writing a work email – and the content is basically right, I always end up altering just about every word to make it my own.

This is how I use ChatGPT. It offers up bland ideas I relish in throwing away. It gives me an ordinary sentence and provokes a better one. It breaks the blank canvas syndrome not by giving you the right words but by giving you the wrong ones. The best way to use ChatGPT in creative writing is not to use it.

An image of the OpenAI website.



bottom of page