Skip to main content

Writing is thinking ✍️

A brain holding a pen.

Don’t be lazy and use ChatGPT or other LLMs to write things for you.

Writing is not just transcribing your thoughts onto a paper or screen. A lot of the thinking and learning process is embedded in the writing process. If you don’t actually do the work, you lose the opportunity to sharpen your thinking and writing skills. As I’ve argued before, if you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it.

And to be honest, if you use an AI to write text for you, you don’t really add that much. If you can ask an AI to write an article, then anyone can. So maybe you can just share your prompt instead? To add insult to injury, the generated text is often so bland that using it is an offense to the reader.

It makes me think of the quote, often attributed to Henry Ford1, that “if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” It seems to me that what many people use AI for is to make their horses faster.

While a bit over-simplified, I could argue there is never really a case where you should use an AI to write text for you.2

If the task is qualified and requires intelligence, you should do them yourself or miss an opportunity to learn and develop your mind.

Dumb, repetitive tasks, on the other hand, should be designed away or automated. But only after you’ve done them manually a bunch of times. There are often hidden learnings. You could argue that AI could be that automation, but once the problem is well understood, there are most likely far more efficient and predictable ways to automate it.

Updates #

  • 2024-05-25: Original post published.
  • 2024-05-25: Added the “faster horses” quote paragraph.

  1. Though it appears that Ford never actually said those words↩︎

  2. While I think using AI to write is a bad idea, I still believe AI is great for research↩︎