I’m a writer by heart and have been taking joy in writing since school. I have trained in it, and practiced it for at least 20 years.
In a world that is swiftly being dominated by generative AI, it’s true that it has become easier than ever for anyone to write, let’s say moderately well.
Yet, every day I receive at least 2–3 pieces of communication that are terribly written. Bad grammar, incomplete sentences, complicated language, and no sign of any thought process.
I am conscious that English may not be the first language for everyone, however paying attention to written communication you send out can really make or break opportunities for your professional and personal growth.
And now, with tools like Grammarly, there is no excuse to not send out good written communication, ie the basic emails, memos, proposals.
“Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control.” — Jeffrey Gitomer, American author & business trainer
But why spend time on writing when AI can do it for you?
Because information that is processed and spit out from an LLM will never replace the human thought process.
What AI produces is only as good as what has already been produced before. It cannot create original thought but only repeat and mishmash already existing ideas.
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So it’s not about being a writer, it’s about how the act of writing helps you think better
“Writing is the process by which you realize that you do not understand what you are talking about. Importantly, writing is also the process by which you figure it out.” — Shane Parish, Farnam Street
Writing helps me process my thoughts. It helps me understand a subject. Helps me be clear about what I am saying or asking for. Helps me communicate my ideas clearly and connect with others on a personal level.
Writing helps me build and constantly refine my soft skills, a fundamental requirement for any progress you may seek.
Writing if done well, is so defining of your mind and the way you think, it can pave you a yellow brick road towards undeniable and continued success, despite all the developments in technology.
George Orwell, the great English novelist, essayist, journalist (whose real name is actually Eric Arthur Blair!) is known for his lucid writing.
One of his 6 rules of writing is*:
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
“…Throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you — concealing your meaning even from yourself.” George Orwell
This is exactly what generative AI is doing now. We need to learn to use it, yet not let it replace our ability to think.
So, no matter what you do for work, practice the art of writing.
Pay more attention to what you compose and release; to the emails you write, presentations you make and proposals you send.
If you use AI, make sure you edit it to add some human thought and soul to it.
If you are inspired by something you see, heard or read, write about it! You will understand it more deeply and be able to share it in a way that others can be inspired by it too. There is tremendous value in that.
And then you will inspire your children to write too.
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*George Orwell’s principles of writing
Orwells 6 writing principles are an easy guide for when you are writing, or editing AI generated text:
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Also some good questions to ask yourself when you are writing:
“A scrupulous writer will ask himself: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What fresh image will make it clearer? Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?” — Orwell
Great classic books on writing:
On Writing Well: On Writing Well is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet.
Bird by Bird: Bird by Bird is for any of you who may be writers or aspiring writers. The author writes beautifully about the emotion of writing as well as the technicalities of good writing