Whether we, as writers, like it or not, AI is here to stay. In reality, AI is nothing new. Plenty of technology – including search engines – has relied on AI algorithms to function. But the rise of new, complex AI tools like ChatGPT has sparked a heated debate over the ethics of using tech during the creative process.
Throughout all the uncertainty, one thing has remained clear: AI is not going away. AI technology is expected to see an annual growth rate of 37.3% from 2023 to 2030. And the market size is expected to reach $407 billion by 2027.
The time has come to confront AI tools head-on. If you’re not actively having conversations about responsibly using AI – whether that means in moderation or not at all – you may be falling behind.
As writers compete to keep up with changing demands and expectations, those who lead the conversation are those who aren’t afraid to see what AI is made of.
How to Use AI Responsibly as a Writer: The Basics
Before you can learn to use AI responsibly, you’ll first need to familiarize yourself with what’s going on beneath the surface. Understanding AI as a tool, not as a solution, can help you better understand where to draw the line in regard to its practicality.
We believe in using resources like AI to make our writing better, not easier.
How does AI writing work?
Tools like ChatGPT use GPT language models to answer your prompts. They work by trying to understand your query and generating a sequence of words that it predicts will best answer your question.
AI writing can be 100% AI-created, or it can be AI-supported. The latter might include content that has an outline, introduction, paragraph, or other pieces generated by AI. AI-supported content can still get flagged as AI writing, which introduces the need for some boundaries.
Why is my content being flagged as AI?
Even if you swear up, down, left and right that you’ve never touched an AI tool in your life, your writing still might get falsely flagged as AI-generated. But why?
For one thing, there are only so many ways to write certain sentences or answer questions, especially for highly technical topics. Some kinds of writing just may not allow enough creativity to avoid sounding like AI.
Likewise, content that’s, for lack of better words, gone a bit stale – dry, repetitive, surface-level observations, etc. – can read as AI even if it’s not.
Just because something is flagged as AI doesn’t mean AI had anything to do with it, though. Even the U.S. Bill of Rights gets a decently high score on Originality.ai!
What AI detection tools tell you is how likely it is that AI could have written something, not how likely it is that AI did write something. As a result, AI detectors like GPTZero, Originality.ai., etc., are not 100% foolproof. And they should not be treated as such.
But if you’re being compared to AI, the fix is simple: humanize your content.
Vary your sentence structure. Use slang (where appropriate), metaphors, and similes – go back to your roots. Think outside the box. Use all the vocabulary. And, above all else, don’t be afraid to take things to the next level.
5 Ethical Ways to Use AI in Your Writing
The jury’s still out on AI’s utility for writers. Some argue that 100% human-generated content is the golden – and only acceptable – standard. Others point out that, when used responsibly, AI can help writers save time and much-needed brain power.
We’re not here to tell you whether you should use AI in your writing. At Inkless, we aren’t anti-AI or pro-AI. We have clients who prefer to use AI so they can produce more content quickly. We have other clients who prefer solely human-written work– and that’s what they get.
We scan all of our writing with Originality.ai, which is arguably the most accurate AI detector tool out there. We closely monitor our work for plagiarism, copy/pasting, and poor-quality content. But we also recognize the utility of AI, and we know our way around the tool for when it’s necessary.
We believe in using resources like AI to make our writing better, not easier. Here are five responsible ways to use AI while writing that don’t involve cutting corners.
I like to think of AI tools as fancy search engines. After all, they essentially work the same way. You enter a query, and an AI algorithm searches billions of sites, pages, and pieces of content to generate answers that align with what you’re looking for. The only difference is the kind of information you get in response. Instead of websites, you get straight-up content – and that’s where the danger begins.
Instead of relying on AI, use it as a starting point. I know the first thing I do when planning an article is some good ol’ fashioned research. Let’s look at how ChatGPT can help me center my research without doing the work for me.
Instead of copying and pasting this content into a draft, I’ll use it to guide my research. Now that I know early socialization is key for training a puppy, I might dive into some studies on socialization in dogs. Or, maybe I’ll look into socialization tips that can help readers raise healthy, happy dogs.
If I scroll past these basic suggestions, I strike gold: ChatGPT provides me with a list of reputable sources I can reference as I gather information.
Now, I know what to research and which sources I should target while I’m browsing the web.
If you generate lots of content, you’re probably no stranger to writer’s block. When you hit a slump in your creativity, AI tools can help spark new ideas.
Imagine you need some help coming up with topics for the doggy blog we referenced in our first example. Let’s look at how ChatGPT helps us think outside the box:
In this example, I specifically ask for SEO-optimized topics. But it’s important to note that I would never rely on these answers alone when constructing a content plan. I might take these as suggestions, but I will always transform them into my own ideas – and do my own keyword research.
3. Proofreading & Fact Checking
Even if you’re not a fan of using AI to outline, brainstorm, etc., you can probably benefit from its ability to act as your personal editor. AI tools can compare your writing to what else is on the web, giving you insight into what works – and what doesn’t.
Once the AI scans the text, it gives me some suggestions to consider as I proofread and polish my writing. Many times, these suggestions end up getting ignored. But sometimes, they point out key errors or details I might have overlooked, ultimately saving me edits and time down the road.
Using AI to outline is a bit more controversial than using it to, say, check for spelling mistakes. An AI-generated outline can be limited in its depth and originality. But for topics that leave me feeling totally in the dark or that are so nuanced that I don’t know where to start, sometimes an AI outline can be highly beneficial.
Once again, I’d caution against copying and pasting an outline like this into your text and using it as is. Instead, use it to brainstorm your own ideas and understand how to make your article flow. Always view AI-generated content with a critical eye.
You should not use AI to try and “save time.” In fact, I’d argue using AI adds more time to the writing process – you’ll need to edit, filter, and rewrite almost everything you find.
5. Getting Feedback
All writers need feedback to grow. Plain and simple. But sometimes, getting regular feedback just isn’t in the cards. Maybe you write too much content to get feedback every time – maybe you only receive feedback when there’s a problem. But AI tools help you take a step back and analyze your writing from an outside perspective.
In this example, I asked ChatGPT to give me feedback on a blog post I wrote a few months back. It gave me feedback for each area of the text that I can use to assess my strengths and weaknesses.
AI Writing Red Flags: What Not to Do
1. Automating Your Writing
Don’t let the headlines fool you. AI is not here to replace your job as a writer. It may certainly try, but as long as you have a human brain, you’ll always have the upper hand.
That means AI can’t automate parts of your writing for you, at least not if you’re a writer by trade. Focusing on automation is the wrong goal, in my opinion. The question is not “How can I use AI to write content for me,” but “How can I use AI to make some of the tasks that go into writing easier?”
You should not use AI to try and “save time.” In fact, I’d argue using AI adds more time to the writing process – you’ll need to edit, filter, and rewrite almost everything you find. What AI is really useful for is bringing lots of information into one place. Instead of scouring the web and reading dozens of articles to understand a topic, you might only need to type a single query.
But, in this scenario, that doesn’t mean you no longer have to read those articles at all – it just means you have a better idea of which ones are worthwhile.
If you copy and paste AI-generated content, you run the risk of plagiarizing content. You also risk losing your authenticity.
2. Copy & Pasting
AI tools piece together words and phrases from around the web. Imagine AI content as a mosaic of already-written sentences and ideas. If you copy and paste AI-generated content, you run the risk of plagiarizing content. You also risk losing your authenticity.
What search engines like Google care about most is that your written content is original and high-quality. So, for writers who create content for the web, it’s essential to balance AI use with your own original voice. Don’t ever let AI speak for you.
Though it doesn’t officially penalize AI-written content right now, Google generally prioritizes original writing. Google has its own AI tools, so it’s not likely that AI writing will be banned entirely.
But if your content is AI-generated, it probably won’t tick the boxes that Google is looking for. And even if it does, it’s unlikely to engage your readers and drive conversions or loyal readers.
3. Using Classic “AI-isms”
There’s a certain “something” about AI writing that stands out, especially when compared to 100% human writing.
The endless, yet suspiciously similar, adjectives. The non-commital language. The classic “bulleted list with bolded words” or, better yet, AI hallucinations (when AI creates factually inaccurate responses).
As you use AI in a certain niche over time, you’ll start to notice patterns as well in the little phrases that get repeated over and over. Phrases like “in today’s modern, globalized world” and “have an open and honest conversation” tend to be repeated over and over by ChatGPT.
Put simply, AI content reads like AI. It doesn’t have the warmth or personality that human writing does. In my experience, AI tends to overcompensate. But it never fully manages to connect with that sense of humanity that comes from truly original thoughts.
AI can’t synthesize; it can’t create. It can only draw from what exists. And that means that it tends to make the same mistakes over and over and over. And, yes, readers can tell.
What ultimately matters is that you’re disciplined and steadfast in your commitment to using AI like a writer, not a slacker.
The Bottom Line
Using AI responsibly is like entering a twisted tango; it’s easy to misstep. If you, as a writer, decide that AI isn’t for you in any way, shape, or form, that’s okay.
But if you decide that AI helps you write quality, original content you’re proud of, that’s okay, too. What ultimately matters is that you’re disciplined and steadfast in your commitment to using AI like a writer, not a slacker.
Be transparent about your thoughts on AI with clients and peers. Start a conversation about how new technology will transform our careers.
At Inkless, we’re here to help you find your voice, whether that includes AI use or not. While we are committed to producing 100% human-written content, we also understand the importance of working with new resources when that’s what a client is looking for.
We want to deliver content that changes the future of writing, and we know that it’s all but impossible to totally divorce tools like AI from that mission. That’s why we’re here to work with you to create the content that suits your needs.
No matter what, you can count on us to tell a story you can be proud of. Contact us today via LinkedIn, our website, or email@example.com to learn more.