After a year with ChatGPT, here's my creative director dos and don'ts
Nick Francis is a writer and creative director at Code and Theory. He didn’t use ChatGPT to write one word of this. Promise.
Happy Birthday to the Elvis Presley of Large Language Models (LLMS). ChatGPT, you weren’t the first to do it, but you are the one they will remember. The kids love you while the rest are gasping in horror at the suggestive gyrations of your inexhaustible generative energy.
When AI became the 'Ultimate Headline' last year, it set off a wave of considerations, decisions, proclamations, cuts, hires, investments, panic attacks, curiosities, smiles, and thank yous. It’s safe to say it puts writers on edge with all of the talk about “replacing us.”
Now a year later, it’s clear that ChatGPT is a powerful tool. But it’s just that: another weapon in the arsenal to accelerate creativity. It’s got a lot of positives and negatives. Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts I’ve learned as a writer who still double spaces after a period. (80’s baby.)
Use AI to attack that blank page. We don’t have to build fires by rubbing sticks together anymore, and now we don’t have to practice mental jiu-jitsu to get ourselves off the blocks. Have an idea? Throw it to ChatGPT and see what it comes back with. Take what works for you. Discard the rest. Look, now you’re Bruce Lee.
Treat it like you’re its creative director. Be a good interviewer of this “intelligence.” You are the creative director, and ChatGPT is on your team. It’s not performing the way you need it to? Change your approach, be clear, and be iterative in how you can inspire it to give you something usable.
Challenge it to a duel. Check your good ideas with it. Think you have a sweet line or a perfect term or concept for something? Feed it back into it and see if it can beat it. At the very least you will feel better about your idea, or it may spark a new one.
Ask it to write like Flannery O’Conner. Use it to play. When you need to give something a different twist or flavor, you can (in the privacy of your own home) ask it to take something well-written and try it in a different voice or style. Make it sound like Flannery O’Conner. Or make it sound like Samantha Irby wrote it. Or Rick James. I dunno, go wild. It might take you around a corner you never thought of.
Cut and paste a prompt result. Never call it done. Always take things from the prompt window, even if they seem right, and run them through the paces. Incorporate it into your work, don’t incorporate your work into it. I'm not saying great music can’t be made using stock loops on Ableton, but the real heads know, feel me?
Blow up the spot. Keep it on the semi-low. You aren’t a plagiarist because you used an AI prompt to help you with something. But you also don’t need to signal to anyone who will listen how you are the most tech-forward creator around. It’s just a superpowered search window (for now). You didn’t participate in cold fusion.
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Rely too heavily on it. It should be additive to your process. Repeated behaviors become habits. Sometimes an interaction with it comes up empty. Keep all the tools in your box sharp. This is just another hammer.
Fear it. AI isn’t coming for your job. However, people who are folding the benefits of new technology into their already high-performing abilities could. The story of ChatGPT is big and fast. In reality, the implementations of it are still coming into focus. Get in there and experiment. Especially while it’s still relatively free.
So now let’s blow out the candles and sing a little Viva Las Vegas or Viva ChatGPT. It’s been an interesting first year. Here’s to many more.