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The AI Elephant in the Room

As a writing coach (and a writer myself), I’ve been avoiding this topic like the plague, but I think it’s time to address the AI elephant in the room because it’s not going to go away. In fact, I suspect it’s only going to get crowded with more elephants, and force all of us to build a bigger room, whether we’re ready to dive into a renovation project or not.

I’ll admit, when I first saw the power of what even this first roll out of AI can do, in the form of things like ChatGPT, I was equal parts fascinated and mortified. When I saw my husband copy and paste the contents of a client’s website copy into it, ask it to write a 30 second commercial spot that was inspirational in tone, and then watched it spit out a script in less than 2 seconds (literally), something in me became apoplectic.

What did this all mean? Does anything even matter anymore? Entire industries flashed before my eyes, and the ways they would be affected, and I was pissed. I thought, “well, there it is!” Society has finally figured out how to get rid of us artists altogether. I was positively livid by what seemed like the disrespect of the years we artists toil away to develop a craft that now could so effortlessly be co-opted by a machine. Why create technology that replaces things we actually want to do? Love to do? It made no sense. And yet it’s here.

And just like Covid, and the subsequent lockdowns that forced us all into rapid change, whether we liked it or not, this shall force us into rapid change as well. AI is here and the only choice we have is how we choose to deal with it.

I allowed myself the proper time for a good ole childish temper tantrum, which I highly recommend to all who are feeling like me. But since I’ve never been one to stay there for too long, I dusted myself and began looking for the ways this new era is asking me to pivot. Was there some good to be found in all this? And that’s when it hit me: AI will not be replacing us creatives, but it will be asking us to go deeper. Deeper into what makes us uniquely human, and maybe that part is not such a bad thing.

In this speed obsessed world that seems to value product over process, I find myself constantly needing to tell my students to slow down. Dig deeper. Take your time to get to the heart of the story you’re trying to tell first. Get messy with it. Do that courageous work to get to the emotional truth. Have your own cathartic experience, and then the writing can become almost like dictation. And maybe that’s what AI will force us into. By bringing forth the need (the demand even) to slow down and dig even deeper, while simultaneously allowing us to speed up once we know what we’re doing. Once we understand what the point is.

Because the thing is, AI might help all of us creatives to become faster and infinitely more clever, but it will never be able to help us get to the bottom of and/or express what makes us uniquely human. Only we humans can do that. And that work will always be needed.

This topic is to be continued, as I have no idea what the future holds, and there’s bound to be more curve balls. But one thing I know for certain, is that it’s now more important than ever for us creatives to connect ever deeper with our hearts. Our uniquely human truths. The rest we will have to figure out as we go along.

Would love to hear from you. How’s everyone feeling about this crazy new world we’ve entered into?

***Holly Payberg-Torroija is a writer/writing coach and founder of Loving The Process, a coaching program designed to support writers in getting out of their own way, so they can write the stories they were born to write. Book a free consult by clicking here or check out our latest workshops/retreats by clicking here

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