Why Every Serious Writer Should Hate (Most) AI Services

AI writing typewriter artificial intelligence

I saw another one today. An advertisement, geared toward writers, for AI-based content generation.

There was a time when I hated these services just because they were so astoundingly bad. Flow and grammar were awful. The content barely made sense. Consider this gem, for example:

But now, that’s not the case anymore. And some of the largest publications, such as Forbes and Bloomberg, now use some form of AI in their work. They assert that their systems actually free real reporters to do more fact-checking and quality control. Used that way, I don’t have a problem with AI at all.

But many companies are going beyond that. Just this week, I saw that the Entrepreneur Store had an advertisement for an AI tool specifically marketed as a way for companies to save money as they produced content. That tool wasn’t about quality, but just higher, cheaper production.

It all makes me question, what about a writer who just wants to game the system? Who only wants to produce loads of content to ensure they outrank everyone else with Google? Whose sole aim is to make buttloads of cash through affiliate and other forms of content-based marketing?

Excuse me as I hurl into a bucket.

The purpose of writing is not product

Writing is not about ranking, getting seen, or driving revenue. Writing is about expressing. Storytelling. When you use AI just to produce more, more, MORE, all you do is feed into the more-is-better complex society has. You know, the one that drives FOMO, depression, anxiety, and burnout. You make real writers who value the process of writing, who do it to show their soul and truly connect, feel hopeless in the knowledge they can’t possibly get ahead of you. Like John Henry, they keep swinging their hammers, hoping people will see the value within the uniqueness of their personal swing.

And just to be clear, it’s not like writers don’t already have enough to deal with. I spend countless unpaid hours trying to find the right editors, perfecting query letters, and dealing with people who think the job is unskilled or “quaint.” I understand that the industry is not at all a meritocracy. You can be a fantastic writer, only to have agents, publishers, and editors turn you down based on what they “think” people will read and earn them money. You can submit to top-tier publications and hear crickets, only to submit to them again as a ghostwriter and have someone else’s name suddenly get you in the door.

One concept, one line, one word at a time

So, as I see these AI ads come across my screen, I can’t help it. I want to remind every writer out there that writing is never meant to be a competition. It’s not meant to drown people in more and more stimulation until they get overwhelmed and stop caring completely. It’s meant to be something that unites. Frees.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned. But I believe in creating content one concept, one line, one word at a time, from my own mind and heart. I believe in expending the emotional and energy that takes, even if it means I write only one essay, one blog, one story over the course of my entire life.

Please say you do, too.

The original version of this post first appeared on Medium on December 21, 2021.