How to Navigate the Future of Writing with AI

19th June, 2024

5 min read

How to Navigate the Future of Writing with AI

How to Navigate the Future of Writing with AI

Written by:

Jeremy Thompson

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer the stuff of science fiction. It has already permeated many industries and publishing is no exception. For writers, AI presents both exciting opportunities and formidable challenges. In this article, we explore what AI is, how it can aid and hinder authors, the potential dangers and benefits, and its implications in the publishing world for authors.

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and learn like humans. AI systems can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as understanding natural language, recognizing patterns and making decisions. These systems can be found in various forms, from basic algorithms to complex machine learning models and neural networks.

AI for writers: How AI Can Help Authors

There are already a multitude of AI tools that can assist authors with their writing, from auto spellchecking to crafting entire articles and writing books, AI is a powerful tool that the publishing industry is grappling with. The types of assistance offered by AI-enabled software broadly fall into the following categories:

  • Writing Assistance: AI-powered tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid can help authors improve their grammar, style and readability. These tools provide suggestions for clearer and more effective writing.
  • Idea Generation: AI can help authors brainstorm ideas. Tools like ChatGPT can generate plot ideas, character backgrounds and dialogue snippets, sparking creativity and overcoming writer’s block.
  • Research: AI can assist in research by quickly sifting through vast amounts of information and summarizing relevant data. This can save authors time and provide them with insights that may enhance their work.
  • Editing and Proofreading: AI-driven editing tools can detect inconsistencies, repetitive phrases and other issues that human eyes might miss, ensuring a polished manuscript.
  • Illustrations and Cover Designs: AI image generators, such as Dall-e, can create unique images from just a few prompts, so you can create illustrations based on your own very specific criteria. 

AI for Writers: How AI Can Impact Authors Negatively

There is, of course, a downside to all this! AI has ‘learned’ by using data that is publicly available, but there are also accusations that some AI software has ‘learned’ from material that is copyrighted, thus infringing that copyright. Indeed, there is already legal action being taken by some authors who believe that AI tools have been trained using copyrighted works (see Publisher’s Weekly). 

But such issues aside, there are also other reasons why AI and authors may not be the greatest of matches:

  • Creativity Stifling: Over-reliance on AI tools for generating content can stifle an author’s creativity and unique voice, leading to homogenized and uninspired writing.
  • Job Displacement: As AI tools become more sophisticated, there’s a concern that they might replace human editors, proofreaders and even writers, impacting jobs in the literary industry.
  • Ethical Concerns: Using AI to write entire books can raise questions about authorship and originality. Is a book truly authored by the person who input prompts into an AI system, or by the AI itself? Even the AI image generators have 'learned' from original artworks and again, artists have the same concerns as writers over ethical use.

AI for Writers: What Authors Need to Be Aware Of

If you are tempted to use AI in the creation of your work, then be aware of certain issues beforehand:

  • Data Privacy: Authors must ensure that the AI tools they use handle their data responsibly. Personal information and unpublished manuscripts need to be protected from unauthorized access. Can you be sure the text you have plugged in, is not now simply going to become part of the AI platform's 'learning'.
  • Plagiarism: AI can inadvertently generate content that closely resembles existing works, leading to unintentional plagiarism. Authors must carefully review AI-generated content to ensure originality. 
  • Quality Control: AI-generated content may lack the nuance and depth that human writers bring to their work. Authors should use AI as a supplement rather than a replacement for their creative process. Also, AI platforms can have 'hallucinations' where the content provided seems reliable and trustworthy... but has been fabricated. 
  • AI Usage: some retailers, such as Amazon KDP, ask you to indicate if any generative AI has been used in the production or writing of a book or the cover design before making a book for sale. Such declarations are likely to become more common as consumers seek to differentiate AI-generated content. Respectable image libraries now also label any images created using AI.

AI for writers: Poor Quality Books via AI

One of the dangers of using AI for a creative process is that the proliferation of AI-generated books could flood the market with low-quality content, devaluing the work of human authors. AI tools do not have the imagination of a human being, they can only reiterate what has already been created in a modified form – a world with solely AI-generated content would be a bleak prospect!

However, when used judiciously, AI can assist in producing high-quality books by aiding in the editing process and improving overall readability. Where to draw the line on the use of AI is an open debate, and likely very much on a case-by-case basis. But it should really be a supplement to your own creativity… after all, aren’t you writing because you enjoy the process, not just the results?

Author Organization Concerns

Not surprisingly, the creative industries are wary of AI, as they see it as being a threat to those who make their living in them. Illustrators in particular are afraid that AI will simply take their jobs away, as the skills and time required to produce fantastic artwork using a human being is costly – and AI will doubtless take away some of that work. 

The Society of Authors in particular has raised serious concerns for writers that revolve around:

  • Fair Compensation: Ensuring that authors are fairly compensated for their work, even when AI tools are used in the creation process.
  • Ethical Use: Promoting the ethical use of AI in writing and publishing, including transparency about AI's role in content creation.
  • Quality Standards: Maintaining high standards of quality in literature, regardless of whether AI tools are employed.

Conclusion: AI for writers

Artificial Intelligence offers a wealth of tools that can aid authors in their creative process, from idea generation to editing. However, it also poses significant challenges and ethical considerations. Authors must navigate these waters carefully, balancing the benefits of AI assistance with the need to maintain their creative integrity and protect their intellectual property. By staying informed and vigilant, authors can harness the power of AI to enhance their work without compromising their artistic vision or professional standing.