Sunday, 9.13 pm
After all, ChatGPT can do it all. It can write a post in the style of someone you want to copy. It can create a coherent and well structured outline of a topic you’re still struggling to get your head around. And it can do it in the time it takes you to make a cup of coffee.
Well, it depends on why you write. And what happens with your writing once you do.
Let’s take a step back for a minute. I started this blog to learn how to write – in particular, how to write in my own voice. That might sound strange – but what it means is that when we first try to write, we use this formal way of putting words down, like there’s a particular way to write that people expect to see. And that ends up with prose that’s no fun to read.
Along the way we read how other people write, and we remember the pieces that talk straight to us. Not pieces that talk to lots of people in vague and general terms, but the ones that take aim directly at us and talk about something we also think is important.
I write because it helps me discover what I think. Until I’ve got the words down, I don’t know what my point of view is on a topic. Ideas and concepts and links appear as the characters form themselves on the page. The act of writing is, for me, an act of thinking.
The world is too complex for your thinking alone to be enough. Lots of people have lots of thoughts, and because we can all write them down and share them now, we’re overwhelmed with words and ideas. And pictures. There are too many pictures. It’s a tsunami of content and our brains are just not designed to cope.
The tools that helped separate the good ideas from the bad ones, like peer review and publication, are straining under the weight of this content. If you’re not part of the academic world you can’t access some of them anyway. Emerging AI tools, however, can go through all the content and bubble up the ideas that are thought of as most important to the surface.
It’s like riding the wave of content in a canoe made of the words and ideas you should pay attention to – the ones that matter most and could be most helpful.
Sitting in that canoe, you can get on with thinking new thoughts that build on the best thoughts that have gone before. Thoughts that aren’t written down yet. Thoughts that are waiting for you to come along and make them real.
Write to think. Write even if no one reads what you write. And most of all, write because you want to.