5 Ways to Benefit From AI as an Author
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in right now; artificial intelligence (AI) has become the bogeyman that’s coming for your job. Admittedly, though, the media has insisted this is the case for decades.
“Automation is the enemy.”
“The robots are taking over.”
“They’re making us obsolete.”
The fear-mongering happened to cashiers, receptionists and assembly line workers. One by one, technology has flooded these professions. Other types of workers haven’t always understood the panic. After all, machines could never do everything, right? They couldn’t write articles, compose songs or edit videos. They couldn’t narrate audiobooks… could they? For years, no. In 2022, however, they’ve demonstrated all those skills.
A question we must ask ourselves at a time like this is, “Do recent developments really spell doom for authors?” Realistically, it’s unlikely. Authors and other creators will probably be fine. After all, a similar change already happened to cashiers and receptionists. Those professions didn’t disappear, did they? Yes, some companies have tried to replace workers altogether, but most have simply incorporated tech into their systems for extra productivity. Cashiers still exist. Some just oversee several self-service checkouts at once now instead of one register. And receptionists help with challenging customer requests but only after an AI has triaged them.
It might seem unlikely now, but AI will probably work a similar way for authors in the near future. Rather than replace us, it will simply enhance what we can do. It’ll crunch creativity as calculators now crunch large numbers for engineers and accountants, enabling humans to achieve more in a shorter timeframe. Will unscrupulous players wield AI in nefarious ways and cause upset in the short term? Possibly at first, but lawmakers will inevitably iron out ethical issues over time. So, don’t fret. In today’s blog post, not only will you discover how AI isn’t bad but also how the tools it powers will actually benefit us all when applied to our existing processes.
Some authors claim they have more ideas than they could ever address and finding the time to execute them is their problem. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. Intimidated by the blank page, many authors struggle to establish and develop ideas. Some can get off the starting blocks and even create an outline, but struggle to pace the story they create between their tentpole moments. And others can flesh out a full outline but find different aspects of their work a challenge, like creating settings, characters or gadgets to dress the sets of their fictional civilisations. If you recognise any of these weaknesses then AI could provide you with a solution.
Say, for example, you routinely write yourself into corners. Irrespective of whether you create an outline beforehand, you always get lost travelling from Point A to Point B. In that case, using AI tools, you could enter your plot points into their software and have a machine offer plot suggestions to keep you on track. Alternatively, say you want to create original characters and keep track of features like their eye colour or scar positions. Feeding descriptive keywords into an AI art generator, you could create and save images of your characters. Use AI tools effectively and they won’t replace you but rather keep you creative and organised.
Word processing packages have had editing features for years, from autocorrect to grammar checks. As simple AI tools, they take what you’ve written into context and suggest possible fixes. And while being able to correct “inflotable” to “inflatable” and choose the correct “its” in a sentence is useful, that range of services doesn’t cover all the editing needs of a professional writer. The issue has always been that editing packages are generally limited by their inability to comprehend whole documents. Most only ever read text in small chunks. They contextualise words within the scope of a sentence but none look at documents as a whole.
Nowadays, however, authors have access to increasingly powerful alternatives. Take Grammarly and ProWritingAid, for example. Depending on their settings, they can make your writing more conversational or professional, fix pacing issues, or point out your specific bad habits. Then there’s software like Authors.ai. For a relatively low cost, you can have it produce reports on a whole book manuscript, pointing out clichés, pacing issues, repeated phrases and even character personality traits. Gone are the days of the rough proofread where an AI lacks common sense. Increasingly, tools can do tasks once reserved for developmental editors.
When working on a book, you might have Googled any number of questions to help you flesh out a fictional world, get your facts straight or deepen your characters’ back stories:
When were scissors invented?
What is the deadliest poison?
Who was President in 1897?
What colour are crocodile eggs?
Most questions like these ones have a simple answer — a yes or no, a word, a date, a colour. There are some instances, though, where ensuring accuracy isn’t that easy. What if you’re thinking about writing a courtroom drama or a thriller set in a science lab? Without a background of technical knowledge, it’s difficult to ensure accuracy in scenes because you can’t possibly know which questions you need to ask for best results.
Thanks to AIs like GPTChat, however, soon you could write about any topic without having to worry about mistakes. This is because you can now have full conversations with AI consultants that can answer questions with detailed, nuanced answers and remember your previous questions to help understand complex topics. Not only will they answer questions, but they’ll also make extra suggestions or direct you to reading material on topics you need to understand but might not have considered. Now you don’t have to rely purely on your own narrow-minded searches to inform your scenes. AI consultants can help you write accurately on any complex topic.
If you’ve spent any time on social media over the past few months, you may have noticed friends adding stylised self-portraits to their profiles. In some images, they sport props like laser guns, neck ruffles and broadswords, and the backgrounds depict fanciful settings that reflect aspects of their personalities. It’s almost as if your friends have commissioned artists to create original work tailored to reflect their interests. The truth, though, is this art is not created by a human. Rather, it’s generated by AIs trained on work created by human artists and photos average users provide. The results are impressive and totally customisable even if you lack artistic talent.
Using AI art generators like Jasper Art or DALL-E 2, any person can create high quality art. As a user, you simply input keywords — say, “blue squirrel painted in Da Vinci style” — and the software does the rest. Using tools like these as an author, you can create branded social media banners, ad graphics and even book covers, and own the rights to anything you create. Just remember if you’re considering this path to factor in the morality and efficacy of using AI art generators. Such choices usually come with a trade-off. That said, these tools are handy for creating supplementary graphics you would never normally commission but could use to benefit your brand.
Would you like more time in a day? Everyone would but, in many cases, a 27-hour day, for instance, wouldn’t help you be more productive. If anything, the extra hours would simply give you an odd sleeping pattern and more time to procrastinate. What most people really want when they wish for more time is the ability to get more done in a usual day. The good news is that AIs are helping to make this dream a reality. The technology seems like a job killer at first glance but the reality is that it won’t remove paid work opportunities in most cases. Instead, it will simply enable you to complete work that would never materialise without it.
Imagine, for example, you write a weekly blog and want to host an accompanying podcast but haven’t historically found the time. Using text-to-speech AI technology like Descript, you could kill both birds with one toss of the stone. Feed an AI a blog and it can generate an audio adaptation. Or, if you want the content to feature unique details, you could use copywriting software to take key details from your current work and write accompanying press releases or articles. Sports media outlets already use this sort of technology to generate game summaries and line-up announcements. Never before has it been so easy to adapt your work into multiple formats.
There’s no need to fear AI. If anything, it’s not a monster coming for you but an enabler of new tools that will make all our jobs easier. Embrace it ethically and it will help you thrive. Just remember to be mindful as you proceed. As AI develops, the direction in which it evolves will depend entirely on how we choose to use it. Aim to strengthen existing systems with it rather than cause casualties and AI will help you achieve new levels of abundance, both in your own business and in the wider creator economy.
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