On Twitter the other day, (as writers do), I came across a writer who had ChatGPT write ten tweets in her style, just to see what it thought of her voice. They were hilarious. Moments later, another writer I followed did the same thing. (Also hilarious.) I won’t lie, I have never used ChatGPT before, but I’d heard a little about the AI chat bot here and there. Mostly that students had used it to write papers, teachers had used it to create lesson plans, and some writers were starting to use it for their novels. Controversial stuff. I’m certainly on the side of not using AI to create art. But as a social media gimmick? It sounded like a fun experiment to me. So, I spoke to ChatGPT for the first time.
First, I asked it to create 10 tweets in my style, just as the others had. It immediately cranked them out. Here were the first three.
- Writing is the closest we can get to magic in this world. One word can spark imagination, create entire worlds, and move hearts.
- There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you’re lost in a good book. Make time for reading, always.
- Inspiration can strike in the most random of moments. Be ready to jot down those ideas whenever and wherever they come.
Inspiring! But also disappointing. I couldn’t help but think they were so very…basic. Anyone writing anything anywhere could’ve tweeted those thoughts. So, I adjusted the prompt. I asked ChatGPT to be funny…even though I know that I’m very much NOT funny online. Here’s the first three from that:
- Writers block? More like writer’s bribe. I’ll give you a cookie if you just spit out some words.
- Just realized I’ve been staring at my computer for 4 hours straight without blinking. Time flies when you’re not productive #procrastinationqueen
- I was about to write a great plot twist but then I remembered I already used it in a previous book. Looks like it’s pizza for dinner instead of a bestseller
These obviously were a lot more entertaining. But did they sound like me? No, not really. I’m not a huge procrastinator for one. In fact, if you search “procrastination” with my handle, you’ll only see three tweets…and all three were in 2012 regarding my last semester at college. Not writing. My guess here is that the bot pulls from other writers’ tweets in general, not just your own. But that would make sense in this case, considering I gave it a task that isn’t reflective of me.
What I found most interesting at this point was how familiar these tweets still felt. I won’t lie, I had a moment where I wondered how many content creators are already using tools like this on a regular basis. Not that I’m judging them for it. That’s their business. It can be hard to consistently create, create, create. But should the solution be to lean on automated tools rather than taking a break, as humans do, to refresh the authentic creative well?
I guess that’s another post for another day.
Alas, I’m here to talk about what I learned about myself, so let’s retract a bit.
After getting my two sets of tweets, I couldn’t help but feel a familiar dread I’ve been coping with over the past couple of weeks. (Maybe even years.) You see, I have 23,000 followers spread out over my website, newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. But I’ve never felt like I stood out and, despite my numbers, my interactions have been dwindling. It’s a little depressing, especially when I haven’t been published in five years. I can’t help but think I’m missing that special spark others have, and that lack of light is holding me back.
This exercise solidified that feeling for me.
Well, because my “voice” through this bot was so bland. It kind of felt like it could’ve been written by anyone about anyone. Granted, I know correlation is not causation. This was more of an exercise and not necessarily an accurate depiction of who I am all of the time, but it certainly got me thinking.
Who am I? What do I have to say that is so unique? Why should anyone care? How can I stand out? How can others immediately recognize my brand upon seeing it, and what should that branding be?
To further my assessment, I asked ChatGPT to write a 1,000-word blog post based on this very blog. I wanted to see what it picked up from my website as a whole. In this scenario, it got a lot wrong. Mainly, it still thought my editing services were available. It incorrectly credited me to running a popular writers’ group on Facebook that I’ve never even heard of, and the rest was basic. Again. Overall, though, it gave a very welcoming tone. Which was nice. But again, pretty bland.
At the end of the exercises, this one helped me see that the AI bot still has plenty of limitations. It shouldn’t be taken too seriously. However, it confirmed my suspicions that I could work a little harder to share my thoughts and feelings in a deeper, more purposeful way. How can people get to know me if I’m too afraid to show them who I am on a more consistent basis? Why would I stand out if I never stand up?
I have to learn to be a more authentic me more often, and not just a play-it-safe version of the Shannon that’s been online this past decade. In fact, I think that might be more important than ever before. Not just because I’ve pivoted away from fantasy to write contemporary, but also because the world is in a place where vulnerability cultivates empathy, and empathy is so incredibly needed right now.
So, thank you, ChatGPT. Through our talks, I’ve realized content creation for me is less about branding and more about living authentically.
And I have a lot of catching up to do.
9 thoughts on “What ChatGPT Taught Me About My Author Brand”
“Basic.” That’s a perfect description of ChatGPT’s capabilities right now. I did a couple of experiments with it and what it spit out was very much that. I’m not impressed. I’ll check back in a couple of years. 😉
Yeah, I think it does a basic voice for lots of folks! I definitely don’t feel like the experiment was an accurate depiction of my work – or others’ – but it did get me thinking about the content I do want to create. I’m not a fan of using AI to be creative. That said, ignoring it won’t make it go away. I want to stay aware of what it’s capable of and how it might be able to be a tool. For instance, non-creative works, like compiling data or analyzing something I have written, like how Grammarly does.
Very interesting how trying out Chat GPT made you feel a.bit insecure about your own writing and interactions on media. I’ve never used it but can imagine a lot would feel the same after trying it. I had to take a break end of last year to recover from an operation, so I didn’t do much for three months in early 2023. As writers we all have doubts about our abilities, sure views, RT’s, shares ect can take a dip sometimes, but I think Chat GPT is just another form of chasing the algorithm, and that’s a trap we can all easily fall into as writers – especially when the numbers (not so good or even good) play on our insecurities. AI cannot replace human creativity and inspiration, and media will be never a substitute for spontaneity either (which is the real key to with social media). You are a great writer, don’t ever let the algorithms tell you otherwise. 🙂
🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌 everything about what you said is amazing. I totally agree. I don’t think an algorithm will ever replace human creativity, just like a camera didn’t replace painters (and you still need to be a great photographer when you use a camera)! It seems to me that these AI chat bots and assistants will be tools, not replacers, and they are here to stay. I know Apple is already working on one as well. It doesn’t seem that different to me than MailChimp offering suggestions on sentence structure or Grammarly scanning a document for technical fixes. But we will see… I hope your recovery has been as swift and smooth as possible.
I totally agree, they will be helpful tools, but that’s about it. Thank you Shannon, I’m well on the mend now. 🙂
Glad to hear that!
Interesting experiment, but I probably won’t try anything like that. I’m the kind of person who sees something fun and wants to do it myself. Tools doing the work for me would not be interesting to me.
But, like you said, everyone can do and try what they want in their own career.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I agree. It’s was an interesting experiment, but I’m not interested in using it for content creation of any kind. It’ll be interesting to see how this technology unfolds.
What a fascinating post! I’m off to go play with Chat GPT now 😀