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Developing a new ChatGPT workflow (4)

In the final part of this series (which started here), I’m going to look at how ChatGPT can be used in the editing stage of writing. Now, editing can mean a lot of different things to people, from getting a complete independent assessment of whether an article or report ‘works’, to just checking for spelling and grammar. AI can prove useful in many of them.

The habit to get into here is to think of ChatGPT as an advisor. Instead of getting it to ‘do stuff’, it’s often a lot more revealing to get it to comment on it. So, for example, let’s look again at the piece I was quite happy with from yesterday:

From Dictation to Publication: Streamlining Writing with AI

Many people in business have been experimenting with generative AI to replace, rather than enhance, their writing processes. The results may have been disappointing, as directly using ChatGPT to write an entire piece can result in content that probably lacks the author’s own style.

But there’s an alternative: using ChatGPT to formulate the structure of the piece, using ‘starter’ content simply dictated by speech-to-text. Using this as a template for a personally-written article allows for style retention and personal touch. ChatGPT excels at reorganising and refining dictated content.

Writers often avoid using AI for rewriting because they perceive it as an extra step after the initial effort of writing. By dictating ideas loosely, AI can be effectively used to identify key concepts and reformat them appropriately.

That’s the intention of this week’s exercise. I encourage you to experiment with loosely dictating some ideas and using generative AI like ChatGPT to bring them together, exploring how this approach can improve your writing process.

Now, let’s think of some questions we could ask ChatGPT. What about: “Is there any part of this article that you think is superfluous?” Here’s what ChatGPT replied:

“The article overall is concise and directly addresses the topic of integrating AI into the writing process. However, the phrase “Many people in business have been experimenting with generative AI to replace, rather than enhance, their writing processes” could be considered somewhat superfluous. This general statement about people experimenting with AI in business doesn’t add substantial value to the argument being made about the specific method of using AI for writing. The article’s core message is about the benefits of using AI to streamline the writing process by dictating ideas and then refining them with AI, and this introductory sentence doesn’t directly contribute to that message.

“Removing or revising this sentence could make the introduction more focused on the article’s main argument – using AI as a tool to enhance, rather than replace, the personal writing process.”

As with any questions we can come up with, it’s up to us if we use that suggestion. The point is, we’re getting some smart ideas here, and they’ll keep on coming for as long as we ask.

We could simply ask about the spelling, grammar and sentence construction. We can get an opinion on the tone of voice or the reading age, and their consistency. We can request a list of points that might be expanded. We can ask for ideas as to how an article could be made more – or less – ‘wordy’ for alternative presentations.

I’m not going to reproduce all of the answers that ChatGPT returned when I gave it the questions above, as I hope you’ll try them (and others) on your own writing. But it consistently produces food for thought, even on short pieces like this.

It’s 35 years since I’ve had such a good editor sitting next to me, and I like it. Particularly as this one never makes me edit his stuff in return.