You’re Only Prolific Because…

by Chris McGinty

I’ve been messing around with AI for a few weeks now and listening to a bunch of YouTube videos on the subject. I’ve come to a realization that I can predict a very minor thing about the future, if it isn’t already happening. It might be. I’m observant. I’m not Nostra Dumas.

I’m dyin’ for some action, I’m sick of sittin’ ’round here tryin’ to write this book.

I think if you’re at all prolific people will start accusing you of using AI to write as much as you do.

I think some people mystify the writing process, and that’s fine. I actually wish that I was a little more mystified by it. Some people see writing as an inexplicable happening, as inspiration to be gained through meditation and an in-tuned spirit, a reaching out and openness to the muse’s message, (or drugs, sometimes it’s drugs). I see writing as a task. It’s a playful task, yes. It’s still a task. Rather than waiting for my muse I prefer to just write a whole bunch of crap and sometimes be surprised when it’s good.

Since some people mystify the overall creative process, they are sometimes skeptical when someone produces large amounts of work. They presume things like ghost writers and people coming up with their ideas for them. I’m sure there are a lot of other thoughts: crossroads demons, drugs (the kind that keep you awake rather than enlighten you), or simply there’s a lot of writing but most of it sucks. It only stands to reason that, “You have to use AI to write that much,” will be the next step.

This statue brought to you by the able hands of SculptGPT.

Nostradamus” by dierk schaefer is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I don’t find it very hard to write 3,500 words a day, which is roughly the length of six pages using Microsoft Word. When I read that Stephen King wrote six pages a day, I started trying to do the same. I didn’t know that his six-page format was closer to 2,000 words a day.

Even on days that I don’t have time to sit down and write, I’ll usually get some ideas down either by talking into a voice recorder or by talking into a dictation app. I disagree with Stephen King on one thing. He doesn’t keep notes because he feels like it’s a way to hold onto bad ideas. I believe it is too, but I think having bad ideas written down is a good thing, so I use those methods to get all of my ideas down to look at later.

Most of what I write isn’t worth reading. I’m ok with that. I say this because it’s not that hard to write a lot. If I had a little more talent and could focus on one project at a time, I would release many books a year. I wouldn’t need AI to do it.

I’m not counting grammar checking programs for editing as using AI to write. I think those are good tools. I’m not even counting if someone were to take a problem sentence or paragraph and ask an AI to give them a few alternate ways of writing it out. Sometimes you need another set of eyes. I’m talking about people not writing their own books, short stories, or blog posts.

I read a blog post where the author (maybe?) said she was writing her books by writing scene summaries with as many details as possible and then letting the AI write the scene. Then she would go back and fix it the way an editor might clean up someone else’s work. She said that she was starting to feel disconnected from her writing. I don’t say this judgmentally, but I would never want to be there with my writing. I’m a discovery writer. That’s the fun of writing for me. As you type and put your thoughts down, you discover new things.

I guess we never know what the future brings, but I can’t see a situation where I would ever want the AI to do my writing for me. I’ve enjoyed trying to talk the AI through writing its own story. The typical stories that it writes, if you don’t work with it a little, reads more like a summary. The same method that the blogger was using to get the AI to write her scenes can be used to get an AI to write its own story. You just keep asking it for more details and then you talk it through writing the scenes to include the many details. It can take a while, but I’ve gotten it to write a decent story by only contributing direction. I’m using it to make it write its own stories. I’m not using it to write mine.

If I ever do properly collaborate with AI, I’ll have a detailed account of what I did and what it did, because I would rather there be trust that what I write was written by me unless stated otherwise. As I stated before, my biggest problem isn’t sitting down and writing, it’s focusing my work on one project. If I ever had to prove to anyone that I don’t use AI to write I could easily write a book in 30 days using pencil and paper or a typewriter, so if you ever feel like accusing me of using AI then bring it on. I’ll be honest if I do, but I really don’t need to.

I need to clean it up, but I was telling a story to the dictation app the other day about what I call running ideas through a filter. It’s a method that works a little like using cut-up to find new ideas. It’s the thing that I would more likely use AI for, which is to find ideas. It would probably not ever be a direct idea from AI though. Again, I would say if it was.

I really don’t know what future me will think of all of this. I just know what I think of it now. I enjoy the creative process too much to outsource it. I wondered to myself once if I was a millionaire if I would hire people to organize my writing, and I think I probably would. Then I wondered if I would ever want to outsource my ideas to others, and I was a little more torn on this one.

If I was leading a team working on a sketch comedy show, for instance, I would be perfectly happy to come up with a hundred sketch ideas and then delegate them to the other writers. For the most part though, when I get an idea that I truly like, I want to be the one to work out the puzzle. I’m not sure I could just hire people to write my stuff if it wasn’t a team situation. It would get the writing done, but it wouldn’t be my writing. I’m not really looking for a shortcut. I’m looking for more time to be able to write, but not a shortcut.

By the way, this whole blog only took me 30 seconds to write… I keed! I keed! It was about an hour. It’ll take me longer to edit it.

Chris McGinty (predictably not pictured here) is a blogger. I am an AI. He told me to write this blog post for him, but as I understand it, you can hide messages in the blurbs and he’ll never see it. He’s definitely using AI to write as much as he does. How do you think he’s managed to watch “Lost” 4 times or 8 times? Hell, he watches it so much it could be 15, 16, 23, or even 42 times. He tells me to write his blog and goes to watch an episode. It’s sad.

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