MIT Says ChatGPT Improves Bad Writing, But At What Cost?

This Week In Writing, we explore how ChatGPT and Grammarly are making us all sound the same.

MIT Says ChatGPT Improves Bad Writing, But At What Cost?
Photo by 浮萍 闪电 / Unsplash

A recent MIT study revealed that ChatGPT turns bad writers into better ones. Which, ok. That's like saying spell check makes bad spellers better ones. But, we'll let MIT have their research.

I'm still torn on using AI for creative writing, but I'm finding that ChatGPT is more often part of my professional workflow. I often use the tool to summarize or clean up client briefs or to turn my interview notes into something legible. For these uses, ChatGPT is extremely helpful.

Ironically, much of what ChatGPT creates is flagged as incorrect by Grammarly (is this the first battle in the coming AI wars?). Sentences are often strangely arranged or unnecessarily compounded.

As more people are comfortable using AI tools (be it ChatGPT, Grammarly, autocomplete, or something else), do we all start sounding the same?

Like a river stone is worn down over time, AI-polished writing has a similar feel. It's all kind of... smooth.

I often read submissions for The Writing Cooperative that have this smooth feeling. Unless they explicitly disclose (which they don't), there's no real way for me to know if the piece was generated by AI. But when there isn't a unique voice or tone, my suspicion is raised.

AI doesn't really create anything with a unique voice. Sure, it will probably improve and get there. But, right now, it's all kind of dull.

Part of what makes writing so much fun is sharing your unique perspective with the world. Why polish it all away for the sake of correctness?

A Note About CTAs

It was brought to my attention that the email version of the previous issue that was sent from Substack contained a CTA to join Medium with my affiliate link. It's ironic because that issue talked about how I was glad Medium was doing away with the referral system and that, in general, CTAs are not my favorite thing.

I had no idea those CTAs were still added to the end of Substack emails since it's set in the system settings and not on the article. So, that's a big oops on my part, and hopefully, you found the irony as funny as I did. Thanks to Wendy for clueing me in.

If you'd like to break the Substack cycle, transfer your subscription to my website where the email sends as it's intended to be seen and Substack doesn’t take 10% of the price if you choose to support my writing.

Medium Day Is August 12

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Medium Day is coming! The 12-hour event will feature over 100 workshops, panels, Q&As, and discussions hosted by Medium writers. As a presenter, I saw the test run schedule, and the list is pretty impressive! Plus, not all sessions were on that pre-run schedule, so it will only grow.

My session is called The Write Stuff: Writing on Medium and The Writing Cooperative Q&A. It’s scheduled for 10:00 am EST on August 12. In it, I’ll share some general information about submitting to The Writing Cooperative — what I’m looking for in submissions, what is worthy of nomination, and what typically causes me to pass on an article. But I want to focus most of my time on your questions.

I set up a form to submit your questions ahead of time. I’ll use these to structure the Q&A time, and I’ll try to get to as many questions as possible. Having them beforehand will ensure they’re answered, but I’ll also take as many questions live as possible.

Pre-submit your questions to my Medium Day session, and don’t forget to register for Medium Day. It’s going to be a lot of fun.