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Don’t fear the AI dragon, ride it instead

Posted by Dan Hatch on 26th March , 2024 in The Write Fit
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Picture this.

(It’s 2024 so just assume all this is gender-neutral, or swap out the terms per your preference.)

You’re a medieval knight, renowned for bravery and your skill with a sword. You’ve jousted in tournaments, you’ve saved damsels in distress, and you’ve won a fair maiden’s hand.

You’ve built a pretty good life for yourself. You’re feeling comfortable in your reputation as a brave and gallant knight. You’ve got yourself a modest but pleasingly crenelated castle. Your suit of armour is starting to get tight around the middle.

Then along comes a ferocious fire-breathing dragon that promises to destroy you and everything you’ve built.

If this sounds familiar it’s because this is where we as writers sit in our own story right now.

We are the knights, our writing businesses are our castles and the dragon is AI.

The dragon is big, it’s scary, and it’s going to kill us.

Or is it?

What if we turn up in our suit of armour, ready to slay the dragon, and it turns out the dragon is actually a super smart and talented page who’s ready to help us become an even better knight than we already were?

This is where I’m at in my journey with AI right now. With the release of the latest update of Claude.ai recently, I have looked into the mouth of the beast and, instead of fire, I’ve found… opportunity. This is, to be clear, a 100 per cent about-face on my previous position.

Here are some completely legitimate uses for AI every writer who wants to stay competitive needs to consider using (according to a former sceptic):

Killing the blank page

I can spend an hour trying to come up with the perfect opening sentence, trying to find a way into an article. I wrote about my advice for starting articles here. But sometimes you just need to kill the blank page. Feeding your info into an AI and asking for 10 suggestions for an introductory sentence for an article on your topic is a pretty efficient brainstorming-type exercise. The ideas won’t be perfect, but they’ll give you something to play with.

Deciding your battle strategy

Sometimes it’s the flow of a piece of content we struggle with. Particularly for longer pieces. Tell your AI what you’re writing about and how long the piece needs to be and ask it to suggest a structure. Even if the structure suggested isn’t perfect, it’s a starting point. It beats staring at a blank screen. It’s just a more active way of tackling a problem that can really suck up time.

Doing your donkey work

What is a page for but to do the unpleasant tasks? If you can feed your finished copy into an AI and have it spit out half a dozen ideas for tweets or Facebook ads or LinkedIn posts, why not? You’ll still need to tidy them up, but they’ll be a good starting point.

Sharpening your weapons

For a long time Sarah and I have recommended using headline analyser tools to make your headlines more effective. AI can suggest great headlines for you. Feed it your content and ask it to spit out 10 suggestions. There’ll be something in there you can work with—and they’re probably going to be stronger than your own attempts at the end of a long day of writing.

Jousting in the tournament of ideas

When we prepare to write about a topic, the first step is always doing our research. That probably involves doing a bit of googling of unscientific search terms and seeing what comes up on page one, two or (gasp) three of the results. AI can dig into corners of the internet you probably wouldn’t find otherwise. The answers it gives you are not your research—but they can send you off in search of information or data you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.

Imagine if the dragon was on your side. Imagine harnessing all that power and might for your cause. Imagine the damsels you could save, how many jousting tournaments you could win, how great a castle you could build with all that gold.

AI is not the enemy. It is only a dragon. You can try to slay it. Or you can saddle it up and ride it’s potential.


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